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The Insider

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Uncle Sam wants TV, too
Previous reports about the Hollywood 9-11 committee formed after White House adviser Karl Rove asked Hollywood movers and shakers to contribute to the war effort have focused on the members of the film industry who’ve enlisted. The Insider has the list of TV volunteers.
It includes Chris Albrecht, HBO’s president of original programming; Hank Cohen, MGM’s television entertainment president; Jody Dreyer, senior VP for corporate public service for ABC and parent The Walt Disney Co.; Joe Earley, senior VP of publicity for Fox Broadcasting; Teri Everett, VP of corporate communications for Fox parent News Corp.; Chris Ender, senior VP for communications at CBS; David England, executive VP and chief financial officer of UPN; Paul McGuire, senior VP of network communications for The WB; Carol Mechanic, senior VP of programming at Showtime Networks; John Miller, co-president of The Agency at NBC; and Richard Plepler, executive VP for corporate affairs at HBO.
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman and CEO Bryce Zabel, who is among the committee members scheduled to participate in a Hollywood 9-11 committee conference call Monday, is doing double civic duty this week. He’s also moderating “Hollywood Goes to War? Politics and the War on Terrorism,” a panel discussion about what the entertainment industry could and should be contributing. Among the TV types on that panel are NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, “The West Wing” executive producer Aaron Sorkin, actress-writer-producer Sheryl Lee Ralph and director-author-composer Paris Barclay.
The 9-11 committee, which is being coordinated by the Motion Picture Association of America’s Jack Valenti, is “eclectic,” said one member, exhibiting a flair for understatement rarely practiced in today’s TV wars. The tasks range from getting movies to American troops to mounting USO shows (the duties of a subcommittee that includes Mr. McGuire) and getting the patriotic word out via PSAs (charged to a subcommittee that includes Mr. Ender, Mr. Miller and Brad Ball, executive VP of domestic corporate marketing at Warner Bros.).
Former reporter rates high at NBC
Tom Bierbaum turned TV ratings into a beat, writing about them for Variety and Inside.com. Now he has turned ratings into a network job. On Nov. 26 he reported to work at NBC, where he will have one foot in the network’s ratings-spin operation (reporting to Rebecca Marks, senior VP, NBC Entertainment publicity) and one foot in the network’s scheduling operation (reporting to Mitch Metcalf, senior VP, program planning and scheduling).
The fact that he was an early adopter of the networks and Madison Avenue’s devotion to 18- to 49-year-old viewers was a major reason NBC wanted Mr. Bierbaum on its staff.
A lump of coal for CNN’s D.C. bureau
Katherine Kross, the deputy who has been CNN’s acting Washington bureau chief since Frank Sesno departed this fall, thoroughly unnerved bureau staffers and is said to have annoyed management with a recent memo. Sources said Ms. Kross’ point in the memo was that the company’s belt-tightening decision to cancel Christmas parties doesn’t mean there’ll be no holiday-season bashes, since there definitely will be “severance” parties.
Two D.C. bureau staffers are expected to take buyouts (an option that expires at the end of the month), but Ms. Kross’ choice of words stoked ongoing fears that further layoffs still are a possibility. Thus, the bureau “freaked out,” in the words of one source familiar with the memo.
Meanwhile, up in New York, Jack Cafferty, the longtime New York broadcaster who has been working the financial beat at CNNfn for nearly three years, is said to have earned a new contract that may have doubled his salary to nearly $400,000 a year.
Mr. Cafferty, who anchors CNNfn’s 6 a.m.-to-8 a.m. (ET) “CNNmoney Morning,” seems recently to be testing his on-air chemistry with Paula Zahn in frequent appearances on her new-and still developing-CNN morning show.
Saban pursuing kids ventures?
Former Fox Family Worldwide Chairman Haim Saban can’t keep his name from being associated with the latest business acquisition machinations swirling around the rumor mill in Hollywood. Mr. Saban, who earned a record onetime $1.5 billion payout when he sold his stake in Fox Family Worldwide, is said by sources to be back on the prowl for new kids business ventures.
Mr. Saban’s name has cropped up as a potential financial backer to one or more independent production companies in separate talks with Fox Kids Network and NBC about leasing out their Saturday morning time periods to outside series producers.
Several kids programming sources say Mr. Saban and DIC Enterprises owner Andy Heyward, whose indie studio is best known for producing and owning the “Inspector Gadget” animated series, have reignited a longtime friendship. A spokesman for Mr. Heyward, who was on vacation in Europe last week, said the DIC chairman had previously denied that Mr. Saban is behind any DIC bid for the Fox Kids Network or NBC time slots.