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Apr 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Meredith Vieira to host syndicated ‘Millionaire’

Just when everyone thought Buena Vista was going to zig with Jeff Probst on the upcoming syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the company has instead zagged and now appears to have signed “The View” co-host Meredith Vieira for the show’s hot seat, according to sources. Ms. Vieira will continue her morning duties on “The View.” A Buena Vista spokesperson had no comment on a deal.

Tech TV lays off 50: San Francisco-based Tech TV has let go approximately 50 staffers, mostly behind-the-cameras employees who worked on the network’s “Tech Live” newsmagazine. ayoffs are associated with a change in programming focus at the privately held network said Joseph Gillespie, Tech’s executive VP and chief operating officer.

“Tech Live” will be cut from an hour nightly to a half-hour beginning this summer.

Mr. Gillespie declined to say what percentage of the network’s workforce was affected by the cuts, citing Tech TV’s status as a privately held company. “This is not a broad restructuring or a major reduction in force at Tech TV,” he said.

The network’s new programming strategy adds original reality series, acquired series and theatricals. Among the acquisitions are “Techno Games” and “Future Fighting Machines,” both new series; “Max Headroom” and the animated “Thunderbirds,” both acquired series; and the “Coma,” “Demon Seed” and “Forbidden Planet” theatrical features.

The new strategy involves “going Hollywood” to an extent, Mr. Gillespie agreed. “Our viewers have told us: Take broader license with the stuff you have on your air. You don’t have to be just about computers of the Internet,” he said. “It’s the right brand strategy.”

Hotel guests sue MTV for ‘Harassment’: A couple from Washington has filed suit against MTV and the Hard Rock Hotel chain for a hidden-camera reality show in development called “Harassment,” claiming to be unsuspecting witnesses to what appeared to be a bludgeoned body in their hotel bathroom. In a suit filed April 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court, James and Laurie Ryan are seeking over $120 million in statutory, compensatory and punitive damages.

The suit stems from a Jan. 25, 2002, incident, where the Ryans were checking into the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and had their keys switched from a third-floor room to keys for a ninth-floor room. Unaccompanied by a hotel employee, the filing said the Ryans entered Room 932 and found”what appeared to be a dead human body covered and surrounded by blood, evidently the victim of a homicide.”

Fearing for their own safety, the Ryans tried to exit the room but found the doorway blocked by two individuals representing themselves as hotel “security guards,” the filing claimed. Another individual purporting to being a “paramedic” came into the room, offering the Ryans any kind of treatment needed for trauma.

Shortly thereafter, several other individuals including Christopher Ashton Kutcher, who is also named in the suit as host and co-producer of “Harassment,” informed the Ryans they have been secretly taped for the MTV hidden-camera show. Mr. Kutcher, also credited as Ashton Kutcher, is a co-star on Fox’s hit “That ’70s Show” sitcom and has previously served as a presenter on “The 2001 MTV Movie Awards.”

The suit went on to claim the Ryans were “subjected to the extreme and outrageous conduct of the staging of an apparent homicide and were unlawfully recorded in their emotionally distressed reaction to the scene” in addition to “suffering humiliation, mental anguish, and severe and extreme emotional distress,” suggesting the Ryans had to seek unspecified medical and mental treatments following the incident.

A spokesman for MTV was not immediately aware of “Harassment’s” status at the network, whether it is either still in active development or even has a telecast date on the network. The Ryans’ attorney, Barry Langberg, as well as other attorneys at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, were unreachable to elaborate on what kind medical and psychological treatment and expenses were incurred by the couple.

Overall, the suit lists nine causes of action, including invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and violation of federal wire-tapping and electronic surveillance laws.

Fox scores at Sports Emmys: Fox took home 11 Sports Emmys, more than any other network, including awards for its NASCAR, NFL and baseball coverage, at the 23rd annual Sports Emmy Awards. ESPN was second with seven awards, followed by HBO with three, including the award for sports journalism for its “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.” ABC, CBS, TBS and TNT each won two awards, while NBC struck out.ABC and ESPN executive Herb Granath, who headed ESPN in the 1980s, received the lifetime achievement award, and the late Dick Schaap received the first Dick Schaap Outstanding Writing Award for ESPN’s “Flashing Before My Eyes.”

The awards, given out April 23 in New York, were hosted by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. A breakdown of the networks and their awards follows:

ABC: (2) for “ABC’s Wide World of Sports 40th Anniversary Special” and “World Figure Skating Championships.”

CBS: (2) for “Pistol Pete: The Life and Times of Pete Maravich” and “Tour De France.”

ESPN: (5) for “Dick Schaap: Flashing Before My Eyes” (2), “Cal Ripken: The Season,” “ESPN Sunday Night Baseball” and “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

ESPN2: (1) for “NFL Films Presents.”

ESPN Classic: (1) for “Sports Century.”

Fox: (11) for “NASCAR on Fox” (3), Terry Bradshaw, Joe Buck, “Fox NFL Sunday,” Tim McCarver, “MLB on Fox,” “MLB on Fox: World Series,” “MLB on Fox Pre-Game Show” and “NFL Under the Helmet.”HBO: (3) for Bob Costas, “Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team” and “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.”

TBS: (2) for “Inside the NBA” and Ernie Johnson.

TNT: (2) for “Inside the NBA” and Ernie Johnson.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications