Briefly Noted

Apr 1, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Uncle Miltie dead at 93
Milton Berle, the legendary vaudeville comedian who became TV’s first comic superstar, died in his sleep on March 27 at his home in Los Angeles at age 93, according to his publicist Warren Cowan. Since suffering a mild stroke in 1998, Mr. Berle had been out of public view. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2001, but the exact cause of death is not yet known. Born Mendel Berlinger in New York on July 12, 1908, Mr. Berle-revered by millions of fans as “Uncle Miltie” and “Mr. Television”-was widely credited with ushering in TV’s Golden Age of comedy, starting in the late 1940s. His overall entertainment career-including vaudeville, Broadway theater, radio and film-spanned eight decades.
Viacom can hold all 38 stations
The Federal Communications Commission granted Viacom a waiver last week allowing the media company to hold all of its TV stations until at least a year after the agency decides what to do about a regulation that bars broadcasters from owning stations reaching more than 35 percent of the nation’s TV homes. The regulation is an issue because Viacom’s acquisition of CBS gave it interests in 38 stations reaching 41 percent of homes. When the FCC originally blessed that deal two years ago, it granted Viacom a temporary waiver, and a federal appeals court subsequently stayed any divestiture obligations while the national ownership regulation was under appeal. Earlier this year, the court sent the regulation back to the FCC for further review.
Shapiro to head ABC Family Channel
ABC Daytime President Angela Shapiro was named president of the ABC Family Channel and will be responsible for the channel’s day-to-day operations, including creative direction, programming, business affairs, finance, scheduling, on-air promotions, marketing, publicity and research. Ms. Shapiro succeeds Maureen Smith, who resigned the post March 26 after holding it since September 2000, dating back to when the network was called Fox Family Channel and was under the ownership of News Corp. The channel was later sold by News Corp. to The Walt Disney Co. for $5.2 billion, including the assumption of debt.
CineGroupe, Film Roman team up on series
CineGroupe, one of Canada’s leading independent animation and special effects production companies, has formed a strategic alliance with Hollywood-based Film Roman, animator of Fox’s “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” to jointly produce animated TV programming. CineGroupe, the series producer of Fox Kids Network series “Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension” and PBS’s “Sagwa, The Chinese-Siamese Cat,” has agreed to pool its resources with Film Roman on a non-exclusive basis with an eye toward producing numerous projects during the coming year. The alliance was announced jointly by Ken Katsumoto, CineGroupe’s head of U.S. entertainment, and Peter Schankowitz, Film Roman’s president of television programming and development. Company officials say they are gearing up to announce their first joint project this week. In related news, Fox Kids Network has extended a 13-episode order with CineGroupe on “Galidor,” taking it to a full season’s complement of 26 episodes. After debuting Feb. 9 in FKN’s 8 a.m.-to-8:30 a.m. (ET) Saturday time slot, the hybrid live-action/computer-generated “Galidor” posted increases of 45 percent in kids 6 to 11 (3.1 rating vs. 1.7) and 54 percent in the kids 2 to 11 demographic (2.6 rating vs. 1.2) during the past two weeks.
Ogden named NBC affiliate board chairman
Roger Ogden, president and general manager of KUSA-TV, the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate in Denver, has assumed the chairmanship of the NBC affiliate board from Jack Sander, executive VP of media operations for Belo. Mr. Ogden will represent a group that includes 10 NBC affiliates. Previously he worked for NBC as president of then-network-owned KCNC-TV in Denver for 14 years and was in charge of NBC operations overseas for two years before returning to Denver to run KUSA in 1997.
NFL firms up its network playbook
“Monday Night Football” didn’t get the late-season schedule flexibility it wanted to pick stronger matchups from other networks’ lineups, but the ABC football franchise did get an NFL schedule that starts Sept. 9 with a sequel to last season’s Patriots-Steelers matchup and includes appearances by each playoff team from last season. “This schedule should ensure that `MNF’ remains telelvision’s No. 1 show for men and a Top 10 prime-time program,” said ABC Sports President Howard Katz, who will team Al Michaels with new hire John Madden in the booth. Starting Sept. 8, Fox Sports will broadcast 111 games over a regular season that includes nine doubleheader Sundays, Thanksgiving Day and two Saturdays. CBS Sports’ lineup of 111 regular-season games will include eight doubleheader weekends.