Hollywood Notes

Sep 24, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Tribune close to deal for more `Friends’
The Tribune station group is reportedly close to sealing a second-cycle renewal of Warner Bros.’ off-network sitcom “Friends.” A major-market Tribune station source says Tribune’s head of group programming, Marc Schacher, is “going through the final deal points” on a four- to five-year renewal for the 20 Tribune stations that currently carry the top-rated off-network sitcom. Specific terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. Warner Bros. had been looking for high license fees on par with those “Seinfeld” got in its second cycle-$350,000 per week in top markets New York and Los Angeles.
Advertisers bail on `Politically Incorrect’
Federal Express and Sears, Roebuck and Co. pulled ads from ABC’s late-night “Politically Incorrect” series last week on the heels of remarks made by host Bill Maher that referred to the U.S. using cruise missles in the Middle East as being “cowardly.” After claiming to have been hit with complaints from viewers around the country, Federal Express and Sears reviewed the Sept. 17 episode and decided to indefinitely suspend any further ad placement in the show, spokespersons at both companies confirmed.
ABC issued a statement emphasizing that the network stands by Mr. Maher and “Politically Incorrect’s” First Amendment right to free speech. An ABC spokeswoman said the network had no further comment on Federal Express’ and Sears’ decisions to pull their ads. Meanwhile, Mr. Maher issued a clarification of his comments last week, saying he was in no way “intending to say … that the men and women who defend our nation in uniform are anything but courageous and valiant, and I offer my apologies to anyone who took it wrong. My criticism was meant for politicians who, fearing public reaction, have not allowed our military to do the job they are obviously ready, willing and able to do, and who now will, I’m certain, as they always have, get it done.”
Twentieth sued over `Divorce Court’
A former producer of an early version of “Divorce Court” is suing current distributor Twentieth Television for breach of oral contract and misrepresentation, claiming that the idea to bring back the current syndicated hit came from her. The lawsuit was filed last week when plaintiff Karol Pozniak claimed that after observing the success of “Judge Judy,” she approached the syndicator to revive “Divorce Court.” Rights to the series, however, have belonged to Twentieth since it inherited the series from former syndicator New World during the `90s. “Twentieth Television believes that the allegations of the complaint are groundless. We cannot comment further on pending litigation at this time,” read a statement from the company.
NBC pulls terror-themed `Law & Order’
NBC and series producers Studios USA and Dick Wolf Films announced that they are scrapping plans to produce and air a five-hour “Law & Order” miniseries centering on terrorism in New York. The miniseries, originally slated for NBC’s midseason schedule, was to incorporate casts from the three “L&O” shows on the network’s schedule. NBC, Studios USA and Wolf Films said in a joint statement last week that they “believe it is inappropriate to produce the `Law & Order’ miniseries dealing with terrorism, in light of the horrifying events that have unfolded over the past week.”
`Danny’ sued for copying floor plans
CBS’s and Paramount Network Television’s Daniel Stern-led comedy “Danny” is being sued by a Los Angeles production facility for allegedly copying interior and exterior set floor plans for use at an alternative studio facility. In the suit, filed Sept. 14 in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, plaintiff Lacy Street Productions alleges Paramount Pictures Corp. and its Big Ticket Television production division took pictures and building measurements to “re-create an exact replica” of the production location. Besides naming Paramount and Big Ticket, Lacy Street listed defendants not yet identified in the suit. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified monetary damages as well as interim and permanent relief on use of the exterior and interior sets. A Big Ticket spokesperson said they don’t comment on onging litigation.