Breaking News Archives

Mar 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, March 12, at 10:45 a.m. (PT); last updated at 2:20 p.m.

Senate Commerce to review Bush’s merger-review decision

A Senate panel has launched a “formal review” of a new Bush administration policy that removes the Federal Trade Commission from the process of evaluating the antitrust and competitive implications of media mergers. The FTC has long divided the responsibility with the Justice Department, which now has sole authority in this area.

The Senate Commerce Committee, headed by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., notified the agencies Monday of its plans. The panel is seeking additional information about a “memorandum of agreement” reached by the agencies that modifies the government’s policies for scrutinizing mergers across several industries. Sen. Hollings has complained that Congress was never informed about the changes until they were about to be announced.

Global broadcast of ‘9/11’ set for anniversary: A worldwide broadcast of “9/11” is set for Sept. 11, 2002, the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.

International broadcasters already committed to the airing include BBC1 in Britain and RAI in Italy, as well as major networks in France and Germany.

The two-hour documentary focusing on New York City firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks originally aired domestically March 10 on CBS to both high ratings and excellent critical notices.

The broadcast will be a “global event,” reaching approximately 80 percent of the world’s TV viewers, said Ben Silverman, the agent who represents the Naudet brothers, the two documentarians who were filming New York Fire Department’s Engine 7 and Ladder 1 on the day the terrorists struck. Mr. Silverman brokered the original CBS deal and arranged the worldwide rebroadcast.

CBS may be aboard for the rebroadcast as well. CBS’s “9/11” deal gives it the right to a second airing, a network spokesman confirmed. A rebroadcast on Sept. 11 is “under consideration,” but no rebroadcast date has as yet been determined, the spokesman said.

The worldwide rebroadcast “will be the same film with some localization,” Mr. Silverman said. “In moments where there is maybe CBS Radio voice-over in the North American film, we will use BBC Radio voice-over or RAI Radio voice-over” in those markets.

The “9/11” rebroadcast will be on public networks in the majority of the international markets, Mr. Silverman said, so there is no international commercialization issue, and there will be charitable appeals at the end of the broadcast.

Mr. Silverman this week announced the formation of his own New York-based production company, Reveille, backed by Vivendi Universal and by USA Entertainment’s CEO Michael Jackson.

‘9/11’ boosts CBS’s week: Closing the week of March 10 with its successful “9/11” documentary — which scored a season-high viewer level for a non-sports special — CBS was the only broadcast network to post week-to-week growth, coming within a tenth of rating point from front-running NBC in adults 18 to 49.

Also boosted by strong young demo scores from “Survivor: Marquesas” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS posted a second-ranked 4.8 rating/9 share average in adults 18 to 49, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. CBS moved up 4 percent from its previous week’s prime-time average in adults 18 to 49 (4.7/12) while NBC’s top-ranked 4.9/13 was down 7 percent from the week ending March 3 (5.3/14).

Overall, CBS’s “9/11” documentary, airing at 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) Sunday, March 10, emerged as the top-ranked program for the week in adults 18 to 49 (16.2/34), households (22.3/33) and total viewers (39.0 million), as well as taking every demographic set from NBC’s perennially top-ranked “Friends” sitcom. Aside from “9/11,” CBS also placed “CSI” (9.6/23), “Survivor IV” (9.4/23) and “Everybody Loves Raymond” (7.8/18) within the top 10 prime-time shows among adults 18 to 49.

For the 24th week of the 2001-02 season, CBS was also first for the 14th time this season in households (9.4/15) and total viewers (14.5 million).

As for the other networks in adults 18 to 49, Fox’s 3.6/9 was down 5 percent from the previous week, followed by ABC’s 2.8/7 (down 13 percent), UPN’s 1.5/4 (down 17 percent) and The WB’s 1.4/3 (down 14 percent).

NBC’s super-sized celeb ‘Fear Factor’ steals top Monday ratings: NBC got a super-sized, 90-minutes ratings bonanza out of a celebrity edition of “Fear Factor” Monday night, helping the Peacock Network to an easy win of the adults 18 to 49 demographics for the evening.

From the 8 p.m.-to-9:30 p.m. (ET) span, “Fear Factor” started with a 5.9 rating/16 share in the first half-hour and peaked at 9.0/21 for the last frame, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. For the entire 90-minute run, “Fear Factor” averaged a top-ranked 7.9/21 in adults 18 to 49 and 17.7 million viewers.

“Fear Factor’s” major spike in the 9 p.m.-to-9:30 p.m. frame took away from Fox’s premiere of “American Embassy,” which dropped 25 percent from its lead-in by averaging a third-ranked 3.5/8 in adults 18 to 49 for the full hour. “Embassy” was also off 20 percent from the previous week’s run of “Ally McBeal” in the key demo (4.6/10).

Despite the blockbuster lead-in from “Fear Factor,” the 9:30 p.m.-to-10 p.m. premiere of “The Colin Quinn Show” sunk 60 percent in its lead-out turn at a 3.6/9 in adults 18 to 49, which was also off 38 percent from NBC’s week-prior airing of “Third Watch” (5.0 rating). For the 10 p.m. hour, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live Remembers John Belushi” (4.1/11) won the hour frame, improving 19 percent on its sagging “Colin Quinn” lead-in.

CBS’s spring premiere of “The Amazing Race II” (3,9/10) came in second, improving the 10 p.m. time slot by 18 percent over last week’s airing of “Family Law” (3.3 rating).

SAG votes to relax rules on ad agencies’ stakes in talent firms: In a critical first step in allowing advertising agencies to expand their ownership positions in Hollywood talent agencies from 10 percent to 20 percent, the national board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild voted 57 to 44 late Monday to approve a motion that would formally relax the 63-year-old regulations.

Passage of the proposed agreement with the Association of Talent Agencies and National Association of Talent Representative will now be decided in a special referendum for SAG members on April 3, with a deadline for return of the ballots set for April 18. Also included in the ballots will be a minority report outlining dissenting issues placed in the referendum. A vote in the affirmative to loosen up on advertiser ownership restrictions would lead to an amendment of the agency regulations and the basic agreement struck between SAG and the ATA/NATR.

The long-standing rules, which restricted advertising agencies to a 10-percent ownership cap in talent agencies, were designed to protect SAG acting clients from any potential conflicts of interest if their talent reps had worked hand-in-hand with advertisers in placement of talent in TV commercials and other productions. SAG membership is expected to approve enlarging of the ownership cap to 20 percent, which is still significantly lower than the 49 percent level some talent agencies and advertisers had been seeking.

“I am pleased that the majority of the board of directors saw fit to give the entire SAG membership the opportunity to review and vote on this very complex agreement and allow each member to have a voice in this important decision,” SAG President Melissa Gilbert said in a prepared statement. Ms. Gilbert — who won a hotly contested revote for the presidency of SAG last Friday over Valerie Harper — had been a moderate proponent for easing the agency ownership rules in light of the talent agencies lobbying heavily for some relief from long-standing regulations.

ATAS recognizes students with College TV Awards: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation announced the winners of its 23rd Annual College Television Awards Competition. First- and second-place winners will be flown to Los Angeles and honor
ed at a special “Awards Gala” on Sunday, March 17 at the St. Regis Hotel and at the annual College Television Awards Festival on Monday, March 18.

The College Television Awards Competition recognizes excellence in college student film/video productions. At the black-tie Awards Gala, student filmmakers will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders that attend the invitation-only ceremony. The 23rd Annual College Television Awards received 302 entries submitted by 112 colleges and universities across the country.

On Monday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. (PT), the winning entries will be screened at the Academy’s College Television Award’s “Festival of Winners,” hosted by Sam Haskell, worldwide head of television for the William Morris Agency at ATAS’s Goldenson Theater in North Hollywood. This event is open to the public. For more information, call the Festival hotline at (818) 754-2838

Winning entries (in order of finish) are as follows:


“Roadside Assistance,” Jennifer Derwingson, USC

“Kosher,” Emily McMahon, Florida State University Film School

“Trysting,” Sebastian Leda, Art Center College of Design


“A Piece of Earth,” Hilda Mercado, Alberto Gonzalez-Reyna, AFI

“The Truce,” Eric Rolnick, Kevin Frakes, NYU

“Dos Mas,” Bas Dumoulin, Columbia University


“The Elements,” Christoph Baaden, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

“Armor,” Jason Goldberg, Amber Owens, Northwestern University

“Nutcracker Suite,” Joseph K. Aikala, Eastern Washington University


“Robofly” Jason Spingarn-Koff, UC Berkeley School of Journalism

“From Third Reich to Michael Rey, Stefan Knerrich, Third Generation,” Amy Rubin, Columbia University School of Journalism

“Living by Instinct: Animals and Their Rescuers,” Linda Klicker, USC


“Nursing Home Crisis,” Mike Dello Stritto, University of Florida

“alt.news 26:46,” Otto Arsenault, Jody Leggio, Southern Illinois University

“Faces in the Crowd,” Matthew MacLean, Kelly Davis, Yvonne Kennedy, UC Berkeley


“Boobie Girl,” Brooke Keesling, Cal Arts

“Super Domestic Robogod Warrior,” Josie Trinidad, Patrick Strand, Cal Arts

“E=MC2,” Alina Hiu-Fan Chau, UCLA


“Horses on Mars,” Eric Anderson, USC

“Crossing Guard,” Josh West, Ringling School of Art & Design

“The Toilet Republic,” Ming Huei Shih, Cal Arts

New news directors at Meredith stations: Regent Ducas, formerly the assistant news director at Post-Newsweek-owned NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, Detroit has been named news director at Meredith-owned CBS affiliate KCTV, Kansas City, Mo.

Also, Kathleen Sullivan has been named news director at Meredith-owned Fox affiliate KVVU-TV, Las Vegas, She was an assistant news director at CBS-owned WCCO-TV, Minneapolis.

Nickelodeon shows agencies what it’s got: Nickelodeon has unveiled five new series, new programming for the Saturday morning Nick on CBS kids block aimed at the 2 to 11 set that includes proven Nick ratings magnets and a new Sunday afternoon two-hour action block debuting this fall.

The new Nick series are “Angelica and Susie’s School Daze,” a 13-episode order of the first spinoff from Nickelodeon’s signature “Rugrats” animated series; “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” a 20-episode order of the series version of the Oscar-nominated big-screen animated picture that so far has grossed more than $80 million in theaters; “Danny Phantom,” a six-episode order of an animated series about a 14-year-old superhero and his family; “My Neighbor is a Teenage Robot,” a 13-episode order of an animated series about a teen girl robot; and “Max and Ruby,” a 13-episode order of an animated series that explores sibling relationships, aimed at Nick Jr. preschoolers.

For the first time this fall, the Nick on CBS block will include Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold!” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” along with “As Told by Ginger” and “Pelswick,” while Nick’s own Saturday morning block will telecast “Jimmy Neutron” and “The Fairly Odd Parents,” joining its “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Rugrats,” CatDog” and “Rocket Power” lineup.

Nick’s new action block will include a “kid-friendly adaptation” of “Robot Wars,” Nick’s entry into the homemade fighting robots genre, joining a lineup that includes “Butt-Ugly Martians” and “Invader Zim.”

The Nick new-season announcements were made Tuesday morning in the packed ballroom of a midtown Manhattan hotel, where approximately 500 agency executives and other media people were regaled with the first big, splashy presentation of the 2002 upfront season. The big-ticket presentation included several musical-and-dancing numbers, billed as “Upfront: The Musical” (with good-humored participation by Mediacom’s John Mandel), and a performance by rock band Smash Mouth, which played a short set that included the group’s soundtrack song from “Clockstoppers,” Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies’ upcoming sci-fi adventure directed by “Star Trek’s” Jonathan Frakes.

In the latest example of cross-platform promotion, 13 Viacom cable networks will simulcast a two-minute live promotional $10,000 giveaway for “Clockstoppers” on March 26, at 8 p.m. Eastern time (5 p.m. PT). Networks telecasting the promo will be BET, CMT, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon’s Games & Sports, Noggin, TNN, TV Land, VH1, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul and VH1 Country.

WE picks up ‘Two Guys and a Girl’: WE: Women’s Entertainment has acquired off-network series “Two Guys and a Girl,” picking up all 81 episodes of the half-hour comedy that aired for four years on ABC. For its first two seasons, the series, set in a Boston pizza parlor, was titled “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.”

“Two Guys” is produced by Infront Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television. This is the second recent off-network acquisition by WE, a Rainbow Media network, which recently picked up “Felicity.”

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications