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Jun 21, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Carroll O’Connor dead at 76

Carroll O’Connor, star of the CBS series “All in the Family,” whose Archie Bunker character became an American icon, died of a heart attack Thursday in a Culver City, Calif., hospital.

Mr. O’Connor, 76, collapsed at home Thursday and was rushed to the hospital accompanied by his wife, according to a report by the Associated Press.

His 40-year career included stage work and appearances in the 1960s films “Lonely Are the Brave,” “Cleopatra,” “In Harm’s Way,” “Hawaii” and “Point Blank,” but it was his role on the then-controversial 1971-79 Norman Lear sitcom that made him a star. Mr. O’Connor won four Emmys for his work as the bigoted-but-vulnerable Bunker and continued to portray the character on a successor series entitled “Archie Bunker’s Place.”

Mr. O’Connor also starred in the hit drama “In the Heat of the Night,” which ran on NBC from 1988-92 and on CBS from 1992-94.

Yankees buy back TV rights for $30 million: The New York Yankees made the decision Wednesday to pay Madison Square Garden $30 million to buy back the TV rights to 85 games next year to start a regional cable channel. There was no comment from MSG on the timetable for deciding how to fill the baseball holes left in its schedule by the exit of the deep-pocketed Yankees after a 13-year TV relationship.

Two days before the decision deadline set in a settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the Yankees’ plan to form a network, the team decided to pay Cablevision, the majority owner of MSG, $5 million on Friday, $13 million on Oct. 1 and $12 million on Dec. 1. The team will now have the TV rights to each of its 150 games not included in Major League Baseball’s national contracts with Fox Sports and ESPN.

Harvey Schiller, chairman of YankeeNets, the corporate umbrella that controls the Yankees, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, has said a regional cable channel showing Yankees games, Nets games (available after next season) and Devils games (available in 2007) could generate cash flow of $150 million its first year and double the Yankees’ 2001 local TV income of $52 million.

The Yankees said in a statement they are “in a position to immediately participate in their own regional sports network to begin televising Yankees and Nets games as early as March 2002.”

‘Jack’ lifts ABC’s summer numbers in key demos: The summer replacement premiere of the Paul Reubens-led “You Don’t Know Jack” on ABC posted some relatively healthy percentage increases in households and certain key demos Wednesday night. “Jack,” based on the popular computer game, quizzed its way to a win in adults 18 to 49 (3.3 rating/12 share) in ABC’s leadoff 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) slot, according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data.

“Jack” improved ABC’s time slot by 10 percent in adults 18 to 49 compared with repeats of “The Drew Carey Show” and “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” which averaged a 3.0/10 in the hour last week. Also encouraging were “Jack’s” wins in adults 18 to 34 (3.3/13), households (5.4/10) and total viewers (8.0 million). Compared with last week, “Jack” improved adults 18 to 34 by 14 percent, households by 23 percent and total viewers by 27 percent over the “Drew”/”Whose Line” repeats.

However, ABC was less fortunate with its 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. replacement drama “The Beast,” which dropped 29 percent in adults 18 to 49 (1.9/9) in its second weekly bow. The behind-the-scenes newsroom drama also dropped 24 percent and 29 percent, respectively, in households (3.4/6) and total viewers (4.5 million), finishing last in those categories to repeat programming on NBC and CBS.

Despite the poor showing at 10 p.m., ABC won the night in adults 18 to 49 (2.9/9), dropping only 3 percent from its previous week’s average.

Among other rarely seen original summer programming, Fox’s “Teenapalooza” concert special posted a disappointing 1.7/6 in adults 18 to 49 but scored some impressive numbers among its core teen demographics. The 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. concert special posted a 3.4/16 among teens 12 to 17, making its score almost double CBS’s “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” (1.7/8 on May 30) and almost four times higher than ABC’s “Walt Disney World Summer Jam Concert” (0.7/3 on June 10). “Teenapalooza” started its first half-hour at a 2.8/14 score and improved 29 percent over the course of the evening to a 3.6/15 in the closing frame.

Powell pushing for EEO rules for communications field: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said Thursday he wants to resurrect some sort of equal employment opportunity regulations for the industry that can pass muster with the courts. In its most recent blow to the FCC’s EEO obligations, the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington on Tuesday refused to reconsider a decision by a court panel earlier this year that rejected the EEO rules as unconstitutional. But in a speech to the Federal Communications Bar Association in Washington, Mr. Powell said he is urging his agency colleagues to “consider new rules that increase employment opportunity in a manner that complies with judicial limitations of the Constitution and that are not unduly burdensome on the industry.”

Baer signs on with Studios USA: Studios USA Programming has signed a multiyear network drama development deal with writer/producer Neal Baer, who is currently executive producer and head writer for Wolf Films/Studios USA’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” airing on NBC.

David Kissinger, president of USA Television Production Group, said Mr. Baer will continue to serve as executive producer on “L&O: SVU” and develop other projects for the Barry Diller-owned studio.

Mr. Baer was a two-time Emmy Award nominee as a writer on NBC’s “ER.” He joined “ER” as a staff writer in 1994 while he was still completing Harvard Medical School.

He was the co-writer of an episode of “China Beach,” for which he received a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for best dramatic teleplay of 1990. Mr. Baer also wrote and directed the telefilm “Private Affairs,” an ABC After School Special dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, selected as the best children’s drama of 1990 by the Association of Women in Film and Television. He also wrote “The Doctor Corps,” a feature film for 20th Century Fox, and “Outreach,” a WB pilot starring Rob Estes.

‘Barnicle’ cut loose at MSNBC: June 28 will mark the end of Mike Barnicle’s reign as host of his own show, “Barnicle,” on MSNBC. Mr. Barnicle will continue to contribute commentary to “The News With Brian Williams” and “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” which move into their new time slots of 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. (ET) weeknights, respectively, starting July 9. “MSNBC Investigates” will fill the 6 p.m.-to-7 p.m. hour.

The “Barnicle” staff has been told the cost of doing an hour daily of live remote broadcast from a rented studio in Mr. Barnicle’s home turf of Boston was too much for these tough economic times. Mr. Barnicle did not want to do the show out of MSNBC’s Secaucus, N.J., studios.

Buckland to develop pilots for NBC: NBC Studios has signed an exclusive development deal with Marc Buckland, who has produced and directed such series as NBC’s “Ed,” “The West Wing,” “Brutally Normal” and “Murder One.” In a deal sealed by Ted Harbert, president of NBC Studios, Mr. Buckland is signed for two years to direct, produce and develop pilots beginning July 1.

Most recently, Mr. Buckland was co-executive producer and director of “Ed” during its freshman season last year and was co-executive producer of “Brutally Normal” (Fox, 1999-2000). He served as director and supervising producer of CBS’s short-lived “Brooklyn South.”

Mr. Buckland is represented by the Broder, Kurland, Webb, Uffner Agency.

Lieberman asks Bush to support media content bill: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., is seeking support from the Bush administration for legislation he’s authored that arms the Federal Trade Commission with the authority to penalize movie studios, record labels and video-game manufacturers that market violent, sexually explicit and profanity-laden content to kids. He sent a letter Thursday to President Bush asking him to back the legislat
ion, and he’s also seeking the support of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., introduced a House version of the Lieberman bill Thursday. Meanwhile, Sen. Lieberman plans to hold oversight hearings before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which he heads, on his concerns about media content and is urging Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to hold hearings on his bill.

WHDH-TV names news director: Ed Kosowski, news director at ABC-owned KGO-TV, San Francisco, will become news director at NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston, starting June 27. WHDH News Director Nancy Nydam left earlier this month due to what WHDH General Manager Mike Carson called “philosophical differences” between her and the station.

Gilbert to become Initiative Media CFO: Suzanne Gilbert has been appointed vice chairman and chief financial officer of Initiative Media Worldwide. Ms. Gilbert, who will be based in New York, will oversee Initiative’s financial operations and will join the company’s board. She replaces Joseph Studley, who is transferring to the Initiative’s corporate parent, the Interpublic Group of Companies.

ValueVision changing its name: ValueVision International is officially rebranding as ShopNBC and ShopNBC.com in an initiative designed to take advantage of the parent network’s well-known Peacock logo and give the shopping channel a higher profile. A branding promotional campaign that will run through the holiday shopping season and will include the launch of a private label ShopNBC credit card is set for this fall. In addition, ShopNBC has signed an ageement with news/talk personality Star Jones to host “It’s All About You With Star Jones,” which will debut in the fall.

Liberty to acquire German cable systems: John Malone’s Liberty Media Group has reached a $4.7 billion cash and securities deal with Deutsche Telekom AG to acquire cable systems that serve more than 10 million homes in Germany, according to a report. The new deal supplants a previous agreement between Liberty and Deutsche Telekom, under which Liberty would have become a majority partner in the analog cable systems.

That deal foundered on regulatory and other issues, according to the report. The agreement in principle is expected to close this summer, and the German systems are expected to proceed shortly thereafter with upgrades to their infrastructure. AT&T acquired Liberty in 1999 as part of its acquisition of Telecommunications Inc. Liberty, which currently trades as an AT&T tracking stock, is due to be split off from the media giant on Aug. 10.

More Masters golf coverage planned for 2002: The Masters golf tournament is shaking up some of its traditions by expanding TV coverage to all 18 holes of the final round and by changing its sponsor mix. The 2002 tournament will be played April 8-12, with USA Network carrying the preliminary rounds and CBS carrying weekend play. Sunday coverage on CBS will start at 2:30 p.m., 90 minutes earlier than usual, and will be scheduled to conclude at about 7 p.m.

Augusta National Golf Club chairman Hootie Johnson said there will still be only four minutes of commercials per hour during the expanded final round. In other changes, Cadillac will continue to provide cars during the tournament but will not be a sponsor. Citigroup, which has been involved with the tournament under the Travelers name since 1958, will be joined by first-timers Coca-Cola and IBM as sponsors. “The Masters is Global,” said Mr. Johnson, “and we want our television sponsors to be able to support the tournament on a worldwide basis.”