Hollywood Notes

Feb 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Ebert undergoing cancer surgery
Roger Ebert, co-host of Buena Vista Television’s “Ebert & Roeper,” was scheduled to have a cancerous growth on his thyroid gland surgically removed Friday, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times film critic, who is 59, had a similar operation in 1987. “I am told this type of tumor is slow-growing and not aggressive and that my prognosis is excellent for a quick and complete recovery,” Mr. Ebert was quoted as saying in a statement. He added that Buena Vista had taped several “Ebert & Roeper” programs in advance to cover his absence.
Dick Clark Productions slapped with suit
Dick Clark Productions, which last week announced that it would be acquired by CDP Capital Entertainment on behalf of Mosaic Media Group for roughly $140 million in cash, has been slapped with a shareholder’s class-action suit. The suit, brought by shareholder Walter Valenti, claims Mr. Clark and other principals of DCP entered an “unlawful plan” to undertake “self-dealing” and undermine the value of other outside-owned public shares in the Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment company.
Mr. Valenti’s suit, filed on Feb. 15 in state Superior Court in Los Angeles, charges that Mr. Clark and Francis La Maina, chairman and CEO of DCP, and four company directors agreed to sell public shares to CDP Capital Entertainment for $14.50 per share-a “grossly inadequate and unfair price.” CDP Capital Entertainment is not named in the suit. Mr. Valenti’s suit also claimed DCP officials deliberately delayed release of second-quarter financial results until an acquisition agreement had been reached with CDP Capital and Mosaic Media Group.
Rosenberg to head new studio
Sources said Studios USA Domestic Television President Steve Rosenberg will be the point man to run a combined syndication studio at newly merged Vivendi Universal SA, while Ned Nalle, Universal Worldwide TV’s president, will leave the studio’s TV division. Mr. Nalle could remain at the studio in a different capacity. The moves come as a result of Vivendi Universal’s recent $10 billion acquisition of USA Networks’ entertainment assets. The syndication studio will be based on the Universal lot in Los Angeles. With the top dog at the company in place, the studio will now focus on the rest of the executive corps, with some layoffs expected on both sides. Studios USA would not comment on the appointment.
Duchovny to return for `X-Files’ finale
Now that Fox’s “The X-Files” is set to air its series finale during the upcoming May sweeps, departed co-star David Duchovny has agreed to reprise his role as FBI agent Fox Mulder for the final two-hour episode to air on Sunday, May 19. According to Fox, the final five episodes will begin to provide long-awaited answers to many of the show’s most-asked questions, culminating in the two-hour finale in which Mulder is reunited with agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) after having been missing for the past year. The series finale is being written by series creator and executive producer Chris Carter and directed by co-executive producer Kim Manners. Mr. Duchovny is also confirmed to direct an “X-Files” episode set to air April 28, which is based on a story idea he co-wrote with Mr. Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz.
Short takes
The WB has slated a back-to-back premiere of new half-hour comedy “My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star,” with two episodes to air 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Thursday, March 14. A third original episode of “Rock Star,” starring Oliver Hudson, will air at 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 15. … Filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer is teaming with ABC to produce “Profiles From the Front Line”-a 13-episode series dealing with branches of the U.S. military engaged in various battlefield actions. Slated to air this summer or fall 2002, the reality series is said by ABC to have the “full cooperation” of the Pentagon and U.S. Department of Defense. … Fox TV Pictures has commenced production in Vancouver, B.C., on the two-hour reunion telefilm “L.A. Law: Return to Justice” for a yet-to-be set May sweeps air date on NBC.