Briefly Noted

Dec 31, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Court TV aims to televise terrorism trial
Court TV has petitioned for the right to televise the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged “20th hijacker,” who is the first person to be indicted in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Moussaoui is charged with six counts of terrorism-related felonies, four of which carry the death penalty, and his trial is expected to begin as early as March in federal court in Alexandria, Va. Currently there is a general ban on cameras in federal trials.
The Court TV petition to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia follows the passage of a U.S. Senate bill, introduced by Sen. George Allen, R-Va., that would require the court to make the trial proceedings available on closed-circuit television so that relatives of victims of the terrorist attacks can watch.
Court TV’s petition takes note of the general ban on cameras in federal courtrooms, which it contends is unconstitutional. Court TV also argues that its single stationary camera, which uses only available light, is unobtrusive. Those arguments aside, the thrust of the Court TV petition is “as Sen. Allen himself pointed out, that in New York City alone, literally millions of citizens probably can properly claim to be victims or survivors of victims of the attacks.”
A hearing on Court TV’s petition is scheduled for Jan. 11. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the Allen legislation in January.
A&E launching series especially for repeats
The new year will bring a new weekly programming banner to A&E Network, which is launching “A&E Network Studios,” a Thursday night showcase for repeats of its highest-profile movies and miniseries.
“Studios” debuts on Jan. 3 with part one of the four-hour “Victoria & Albert” miniseries, which will conclude the following week. Also getting the “Studios” treatment will be A&E’s Emmy-winning “Horatio Hornblower” miniseries and its productions of “The Great Gatsby,” “Vanity Fair” and “Emma.” Upcoming projects that also will get second runs on “Studios” include “The Magnificent Ambersons,” set to debut on Jan. 13; the miniseries “Shackleton,” scheduled for spring 2002; and “Lathe of Heaven” and “The Lost World,” two new original movies.
NBC-not ABC-to pay tribute to `Roots’
NBC plans to air a one-hour special celebrating the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking miniseries “Roots,” which debuted in 1977 on ABC. Original “Roots” cast member LeVar Burton will host “Roots-Celebrating 25 Years: The Saga of an American Classic,” which will feature interviews with several other cast members, including Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, Richard Roundtree and Ed Asner, who will talk about how the television event affected their lives. Special guests will include Will Smith, Dr. Maya Angelou, Bill Duke, Larry King, and David Wolper, who executive produced “Roots.”
“Roots” went on to win nine Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. During the eight nights the miniseries originally aired, some 130 million Americans tuned in, making it the third-highest rated telecast in the history of American television. The special will air at 8 p.m. (ET) Friday, Jan. 18, in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
ABC reportedly passed on the project. A spokesman at the network was unavailable for comment.
Encoda Systems gets contract renewals
Encoda Systems said Gray Communications has signed five-year renewal contracts for eight stations on Encoda’s Columbine and JDS traffic systems. Gray is renewing contracts for stations in Lexington, Ky. (WKYT-TV); Hazard, Ky. (WYMT-TV); Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT-TV); North Augusta, S.C. (WRDW-TV); Eau Claire, Wis. (WEAU-TV); and Waco (KWTX-TV), Sherman (KXII-TV) and Bryan (KBTX-TV), Texas.
Gray Communications operates 13 television stations, three NBC affiliates and 10 CBS affiliates, in the Southeast and Midwest. WKYT, was a beta site for early releases of the Columbine system nearly 30 years ago.
CBS on top for Christmas
CBS won the annual Christmas race, according to metered-market results for the typically slow night. The network ran repeats of its regular lineup, trimming its tree with an average 5.8 rating/10 share for the night. ABC took the silver at a 4.8/9, while NBC and Fox tied with a 4.1/8. The WB finished fifth with a 2.8/5, with UPN following at a 1.4/3.
The CBS drama “JAG” won the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) block with a 4.8/10. Fox ran second with its comedy repeats, led by “The Simpsons” at 8:30 p.m. with a 4.4/9. The following hour was again ruled by CBS, with “The Guardian” earning a 5.3/10 followed by ABC’s sitcom tandem “Dharma & Greg” and “Spin City,” averaging a 4.7/9 for the hour. At 10 p.m., CBS’s “Judging Amy” took the top spot with a 6.0/11, followed by “NYPD Blue” with a 5.8/11.