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Dec 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

TNT restructuring Originals, halves staff
New York-TNT has dramatically cut staff at its TNT Originals division, letting go 23 employees, representing just over half of the division, which now will be restructured.
“We’re taking it from a stand-alone unit,” said a Turner Broadcasting System spokeswoman. “Now it’s becoming a department under TNT.” As a stand-alone entity, TNT Originals reported to Bradley Siegel, president of general entertainment networks, TBS; as a department, it now will report to Steve Koonin, TNT’s general manager. Both the head of the division, Robert DeBitetto, president of original programming, TNT, and Julie Weitz, executive VP, will be leaving after a transition period, and a senior-VP-level executive will be hired for the department, the spokeswoman said.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the production slate and development pipeline will be unaffected by the cuts, according to the spokeswoman. Four to six original pictures are slated for 2002, and eight are expected in 2003, she said. Among the highest-profile projects from TNT Originals were new adaptations of literary classics “Animal Farm,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Don Quixote.”
Must-carry obligations ruled constitutional
Washington-In a win for broadcasters on Friday, a federal appeals court upheld the constitutionality of must-carry obligations for satellite television companies. According to Federal Communications Commission rules, satellite providers must carry all local signals in a market if they decide to carry one. The satellite industry, including EchoStar and DirecTV, challenged those requirements in a federal court in Richmond, Va., insisting they violate their First Amendment rights. The dish TV companies want to offer a handful of local signals in many markets, not every signal in fewer markets. But the court said the rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2002, are “content neutral” and impose only “incidental burdens on speech.”
Hollywood has war powwow in Washington
Washington-Hollywood executives and lobbyists met with Bush administration officials at the White House Thursday to continue their discussions on how Tinsel Town can aid the war effort. After a briefing about the war on terrorism, they shared their plans for public service announcements on television and radio here and abroad emphasizing patriotism, the nation’s tolerance of other faiths and support for U.S. troops. Patriotic movie trailers are also in the works. A source said the Hollywood group, headed by Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Jack Valenti, has no further meetings planned with White House officials. But the executives will meet once more before the holidays and every few weeks after that.
Sony Pictures makes big Super Bowl ad buy
Los Angeles-In an unusually big commitment for a movie studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment intends to purchase 13 30-second national spots in and around Fox’s Feb. 3 TV broadcast of the Super Bowl in a package valued by media analysts at $5 million to $7 million, according to Advertising Age. The buy includes two or more spots in the game itself, plus a number in Fox’s pregame and postgame programming to promote its 2002 movie slate. The most unusual aspect of the program is the post-game buy on the special one-hour version of Fox’s hit TV show, “Malcolm in the Middle.” Sony is buying commercials in all six breaks during the show, effectively giving the studio exclusivity.