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Feb 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, Feb. 25, at 8:15 a.m. (PT); last updated at 4:05 p.m.

Kaczmarek walks off ‘Malcolm’ set

Jane Kaczmarek, co-star of Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” walked off the set of the hit sitcom two weeks ago in what is being alleged as a salary dispute.

As first reported in USA Today, an apparent sickout staged by Ms. Kaczmarek, who claims her absence is due to migraine headaches, has raised questions about whether production on the 8:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday staple will be cut short to 22 episodes.

Because the show is shot out of sequence, sources say previously filmed scenes shot with Ms. Kaczmarek could be inserted to fulfill Fox’s original 24-episode order with producer Regency Television.

Ms. Kaczmarek, who has been nominated for outstanding actress Emmy Awards two years running, left “Malcolm” for a couple of episodes in a similar salary dispute last season. The cast of the show ended up getting small salaries bumps for this season.

In a statement from PMK Public Relations, publicists for Ms. Kaczmarek reiterated that there is “no connection between her health issues and any contractual matters.” It went on say the “health misfortunes” are “short-term” and that she will be able to resume work “soon.”

“The physician at Fox Studios has examined Jane as well and has confirmed this diagnosis. To say more at this time would contribute to further invasion of Jane’s privacy, which we should all want to protect,” the statement added.

A spokesman for Regency Television had no comment. Press representatives for Fox could not be reached for comment. USA Today’s story had also noted that Ms. Kaczmarek’s sickness may have taken inspiration from her husband, Bradley Whitford, who had joined other cast members of NBC’s “The West Wing” in a brief walkout last summer-before getting a doubling of their paychecks to $70,000 per episode.

Sorkin slams Bush, media: Aaron Sorkin, executive producer and creator of NBC’s “The West Wing,” is at the center of a storm, quoted in The New Yorker as being critical of President Bush and what he see as the media “waving pompoms” in regards to coverage of the administration’s war on terrorism.

In the story, first revealed on the the Drudge Report Web site and dated March 4 for publication in The New Yorker, the magazine’s Tad Friend quoted Mr. Sorkin as being critical of NBC News’ recent look at the day in the life of the Bush presidency, titled “The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing,” which aired a few weeks ago and was hosted by “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw.

“The White House pumped up the President’s schedule to show him being much busier and more engaged than he is, and Tom Brokaw let it happen-the show was a valentine to Bush,” Mr. Sorkin was quoted in The New Yorker’s Talk of Town section. “That illusion may be what we need right now, but the truth is we’re simply pretending to believe that Bush exhibited unspeakable courage at the World Series by throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, or that he, by God, showed those terrorists by going to Salt Lake City and jumbling the first line of the Olympic opening ceremony. The media is waving pompoms, and the entire country is being polite.”

Similarly, the article also highlighted what Mr. Sorkin allegedly saw as wider complicity by other mainstream media organizations, which he also states are toeing the administration line since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 in New York and Washington.

“President Bush seems to be handling things very well, and I support him 100 percent,” Mr. Sorkin said. “I also think it’s absolutely right that at this time we’re all laying off the bubblehead jokes. But that’s a far cry from what the Times and CNN and others on whom we rely for unvarnished objectivity are telling us, which is that” — his voice took on a worshipful tone — “‘My God! On September 12th he woke up as Teddy Roosevelt! He became the Rough Rider!'”

Mr. Sorkin suggested a more accurate portrayal of President Bush can be seen in a forthcoming documentary by Alexandra Pelosi called “Journeys With George.” “It’s about life on Bush’s campaign plane, and the White House is worried about it because it shows the president in an amateurish light,” Mr. Sorkin said.

Furthermore, The New Yorker story reported that Mr. Sorkin is considering doing a storyline in “West Wing,” where fictional President Josiah Bartlett is up for re-election in November, incorporating President Bush’s contested win of the electoral vote (determined by the controversial recounting of ballots in Florida) during the 2000 election against then-Vice President Al Gore.

“Bartlet is going to be running against Gov. Robert Ritchie, of Florida, who’s not the sharpest tool in the box but who’s raised a lot of money and is very popular with the Republican Party,” Sorkin said. “It was frustrating watching Gore try so hard not to appear smart in the debates — why not just say ‘Here’s my f—ing rÈsumÈ, what do you got?’ We’re a completely fictional, nonpolitical show, but one of our motors is doing our version of the old Mad magazine — ‘Scenes We’d Like to See.’ And so to an extent we’re going to rerun the last election and try a few different plays than the Gore campaign did.”

The Drudge Report, citing a White House staffer on background, suggested that Mr. Sorkin had been rebuffed on a request to feature key Bush administration players in “The West Wing.” Sources at NBC and series producer Warner Bros. Television denied there was any such request to feature Bush staffers in future episodes and roundly dismissed any allegations that Mr. Sorkin is “bitter,” as the White House source is quoted as saying in the Drudge Report.

At one point, the Drudge Report quoted a “top” NBC executive based in New York as saying, “Mr. Sorkin is way out of bounds, and his comments certainly do not, I repeat, do not represent the view of NBC, or anyone I know who works here, or our advertisers.”

Sources at NBC said that NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker will address Mr. Sorkin’s comments during a February sweeps conference call with the media, scheduled for Tuesday morning. NBC press representatives were not reachable for comment.

Bay News 9 launching Spanish version of channel: Bay News 9, Tampa Bay’s 24-hour Time Warner news channel, is launching Bay News 9 en Espanol on March 4. It will be the country’s first 24-hour Spanish language local news channel found on Time Warner cable’s digital Channel 139 in that market. Gloria Montoya will be the weekday anchor, and Carleth Keyes will be the weekend anchor as well as a reporter.

Los Angeles Emmys scheduled for June 29: The 54th Annual Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards will be presented June 29 at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, it was announced Monday by Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the show’s executive producer Hal Eisner. Mr. Eisner, a reporter with KCOP-TV, also announced the return of Park Hill Entertainment President Shirley Neal as producer and 17-time Emmy Award winner Harry Kooperstein as the show’s director. All three are returning for their sixth consecutive year.

Torricelli brings back discount-ad-rate provisions for politicians: Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., will try to resurrect his controversial political-ad-rate amendment Tuesday by adding it to an election-reform bill to be considered by the Senate. The provisions, which lower the already reduced rates federal candidates pay for political ads, were recently struck by the House from pending campaign-finance legislation.

Broadcasters visiting Washington this week for the National Association of Broadcasters’ state leadership conference are helping the NAB lobby against the measure.

Sen. Lott not happy with FCC: Addressing the NAB’s state leadership conference in Washington Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., lashed out against the Federal Communications Commission, accusing the agency of being slow to act — and moving in the wrong direction when it does. His remarks included a critique of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, a fellow Republican who rarely faces
criticism from members of his own party. On another issue, Sen. Lott said he has reservations about the proposed EchoStar-DirecTV merger because it would reduce competition in the dish-TV business.

Tauzin slams Enron coverage: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., thinks cable and broadcast news outlets were unfair to him and other lawmakers during the Enron hearings when they flashed how much in Enron contributions the legislators had received as they questioned witnesses.

“(This) carries implications that there’s something wrong,” the Cajun congressman said Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters’ state leadership conference in Washington. He also thinks the numbers they used were incorrect. Rep. Tauzin said TV news outlets should never list such figures or should always do so. In particular, he said, they should include in their coverage the amounts TV executives contribute to lawmakers when those executives testify before Congress.

Olympics Closing Ceremony draws 38 million viewers: A record medals bounty for Team USA and a wellspring of nationalistic pride translated to NBC scoring a 22.3 rating/33 share and 38.6 million viewers for Sunday night’s Closing Ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. According to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data, the 17th and final day of the Olympics also scored a 13.1/29 in adults 18 to 49 for the three-hour Closing Ceremony (8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET).

The final day’s celebration on American turf is pacing about 85 percent ahead of the closing night’s party at the 1998 Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan, which came in with a final 12.0 rating nationally in households when it was telecast by CBS on Feb. 21, 1998. Furthermore, the Closing Ceremony in Salt Lake City is on track to best the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics’ closing celebration (15.8 rating) by 41 percent. The previous high for a closing party was the 1994 Winter Olympics from Lillehammer, Norway, which posted a 22.8 rating for CBS.

Leading off the night at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., a special edition of “Dateline,” mostly dedicated to contrasting biographies of Olympic figure skating champions Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill, pulled a surprising victory over CBS’s perennial time-period-winning “60 Minutes. “Dateline” handily beat “60 Minutes” by 53 percent in households (13.2/22 vs. 8.4/14), 166 percent in adults 18 to 49 (6.4/18 vs. 2.4/7) and 64 percent in total viewers (20.9 million vs. 12.7 million).

Overall, NBC’s 7 p.m.-to-11 p.m. Sunday prime-time rotation took home gold at a 20.0/30 in households, 11.4/27 in adults 18 to 49 and 34.2 million total viewers. NBC’s scores in the fast nationals beat the other three of the Big 4 networks’ cumulative scores by 14 percent in households (17.6/26) and by 9 percent in adults 18 to 49 (10.5/24).

Full national averages for NBC’s Sunday closing, as well as its 17-day average over the entire Olympics, are expected to be released this afternoon.

Fox came in second in adults 18 to 49 for the evening (4.5/11), finishing second in every time slot except for a third-ranked repeat of “Bernie Mac” (3.2/7) in the 9:30 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frame. Original double-run episodes of “King of the Hill,” posted 2.9/9 and 4.0/11 averages in adults 18 to 49 during Fox’s 7 p.m.-to-8 p.m. frame, and an original episode of “The Simpsons” drew a 6.3/15.

In adults 18 to 49, ABC saw its two-hour “Tarzan” cartoon (3.0/8) come in third for the 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame, while drama “Alias” (3.9/8) came in third at 9 p.m. and “The Practice” (3.9/9) was in second place at 10 p.m. ABC finished Sunday with a third-ranked 3.4/8 in adults 18 to 49.

CBS saw “The Education of Max Bickford” sink to a third-ranked 5.4/8 in households and fourth-ranked 1.6/4 in adults 18 to 49 for the 8 p.m. hour. Meanwhile, CBS’s two-hour telefilm “The Rosa Parks Story” came in a commendable second in households (6.7/10) and total viewers (10.4 million) for the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. frame. CBS finished the night with a second-ranked 6.9/10 in households and fourth-ranked 2.6/6 in adults 18 to 49.

Peacock poised for biggest adults 18-49 win of season: NBC is expected to win its third week of prime-time ratings — corresponding to the Feb. 8-24 airing of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics — by its healthiest margins yet in adults 18 to 49, adults 18 to 34, teens and total viewers.

For the week of Feb. 18 to 24, which includes preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national returns for last Friday through Sunday, NBC is scoring an 11.4 rating/29 share average in adults 18 to 49 and 32.9 million total viewers. NBC’s preliminary averages are pacing 19 percent ahead of both of the previous week’s (Feb. 11-17) final national adults 18 to 49 (9.7/25) and total viewers (28.0 million) scores.

The record medals haul for Team USA (34 medals, second only to Germany’s 35) should translate to NBC beating Fox in adults 18 to 49 (3.6/9) by a commanding 217 percent margin for the latest week, based on the preliminary tracking. Following Fox in adults 18 to 49 is ABC’s 2.8/7, CBS’s 2.7/7, UPN’s 1.7/4 and The WB’s 1.3/3. NBC also wins the week in adults 18 to 34 (8.4/24) and teens 12 to 17 (5.9/20).

Where NBC previously had single-digit declines in most of the key demos prior to start of the Olympics, the effect of the home-based games has the Peacock Network’s 5.5/14 average in adults 18 to 49 (Sept. 24, 2001-Feb. 24, 2002) up 10 percent over its year-ago average (5.0/13). NBC’s is also up 17 percent in total viewers (14.1 million) vs. its year-ago averages.

UPN is the only other network in adults 18 to 49 (2.0/5) showing positive traction this season, up 18 percent from last year. Meanwhile, Fox is down 7 percent at a second-ranked 4.3/11 among adults 18 to 49 this season, followed by third-ranked 3.8/10 scores held by ABC and CBS (down 19 percent and 5 percent, respectively) and The WB’s sixth-ranked 1.6/4 average (down 6 percent).

Final national ratings for the week ended Feb. 24 will be released Tuesday afternoon.

NBC scores $75 million in Olympic profits: NBC executives say the network made $740 million in revenue and $75 million in profits from the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Helping to maximize the revenue was NBC’s decision to hold back some commercial inventory. “We added $20 million in sales since Day 1 of the Games,” said NBC Television Network President Randy Falco during a conference call.

Mr. Falco and NBC Olympics and Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol clearly were pleased with how the Games played out — for reasons ranging from the cooperative weather and the unexpected competitiveness of the U.S. athletes to the promotions campaign that started nearly two years ago and helped produce an audience that surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers.

Through Saturday night, the prime-time portions of the coverage averaged a 19.0 rating and 31 share, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. Advertisers had been guaranteed 17 ratings points.

The cumulative gross ratings points add up to the equivalent of eight Super Bowls, Mr. Falco said.

NBC Enterprises, MGM form media sales company: NBC Enterprises and MGM Worldwide Television Distribution have created a new media sales company, MGM/NBC Media Sales Group, to oversee all barter sales efforts for their respective off-network series and first-run syndication programming.

The venture will be based in New York and led by MGM Media Sales Executive VP Michael Daraio. Its oversight of barter sales activities will begin immediately, combining NBC Enterprises’ and MGM’s off-network and first-run syndicated programming, including first-run talk strip “The John Walsh Show,” upcoming action hour “B.A.I.T.,” the weekend news program with Chris Matthews and MGM’s sci-fi adventure series “Stargate SG-1.”

New title for Disney’s Padden: Preston Padden, The Walt Disney Co.’s executive VP for government relations, has been named executive VP of worldwide government relations for the company.

Cramer, Kudlow to co-host ‘America Now’: After a two-month tryout, James Cramer and Lawrence Kudlow have won the jobs as
co-hosts of CNBC’s “America Now,” the 8 p.m. (ET) weeknight show that deals with the top news stories and related economic and business issues of the day. The show was developed by and is overseen by NBC News.

Setos named Fox Group engineering chief: Andrew Setos has been named president of engineering for the Fox Group. Mr. Setos, formerly the senior vice president for broadcast operations and engineering for Fox Television and executive vice president of the News Technology Group, will be the senior technology strategist, overseeing engineering for all of Fox’s TV and film units. He will continue to oversee the Fox Technology Group and Fox Digital.

‘The View’ goes cable: The latest example of cable repurposing will bring “The View,” ABC’s morning talker, to the A&E Network. Beginning April 1, “The View” will get two rebroadcasts on the cable network, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (ET/PT), following the ABC live broadcast. “The View” features Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Joy Behar and Lisa Ling. Ms. Walters is also the show’s creator and executive producer. A&E Television Networks is a joint venture of ABC, the Hearst Corp. and NBC.#

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications