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Oct 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Friday, Oct. 18

Moody’s downgrades Disney

Moody’s Investors Service dealt The Walt Disney Co. another blow Friday, downgrading its senior unsecured debt to a Baa1 from an A3 and downgrading ratings for its subsidiaries based on factors including the continuing decline of its TV network and theme-park businesses. High debt resulting from its ABC Family acquisition, limited free cash flow and the threat of a double-dip recession also prompted the move. Moody’s said the sale of noncore assets like its radio stations and sports teams will be “insufficient” for Disney to hit its reduced financial targets in tough times.

CBS’s Thursday lineup beats NBC: For the second week in a row, CBS’s “Survivor”- and “CSI”-fueled Thursday lineup gave the Eye Network a win in total viewers over NBC, also chipping away at the Peacock’s still healthy 25 percent advantage in the adults 18 to 49 demographic last night.

Despite NBC’s “Friends” holding highs for the night and week among adults 18 to 49 (12.7 rating/33 share) in the 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. frame, the succeeding exodus of viewers for the second half-hour of “Survivor: Thailand” keeps growing, according to Nielsen Media Research final national data.

For the full 8 p.m. hour, “Survivor 5’s” 9.2/24 average in adults 18 to 49 posted 7 percent growth from its previous Thursday outing (8.6/22). At 8:30 to 9 p.m., “Scrubs'” 8.7/22 in adults 18 to 49 represented 69 percent retention of “Friends'” lead-in demo score and was down 2 percent week to week.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” again dominated the 9 p.m. hour, setting personal highs in total viewers (30.8 million) and adults 18 to 34 (9.5/26) in addition to winning in adults 18 to 49 (11.6/28). NBC’s “Will & Grace” did manage to increase 16 percent on its “Scrubs” lead-in among adults 18 to 49 (10.1/25), but was down 4 percent from its previous week’s score. At 9:30 p.m., NBC saw freshman “Good Morning, Miami” drop 8 percent week to week in adults 18 to 49 (7.8/19 vs. 8.5/20), but the series is managing about 80 percent retention from “Will & Grace.”

Typical to form, NBC’s “ER” took the 10 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (12.3/32) and total viewers (25.6 million), holding even week to week. CBS’s “Without A Trace,” while improving CBS’s year-to-year position in adults 18 to 49, scored a second-ranked 5.0/14, but was down 5 percent week to week.

For the evening, NBC’s winning 10.9/27 score in adults 18 to 49 was down 2 percent week to week, while CBS’s 8.6/22 inched up 1 percent. CBS won the evening in total viewers over NBC by a 2 percent margin (22.7 million vs. 21.8 million), marking its second consecutive weekly win in the head count race.

‘Hairspray’s’ Winokur nabs ABC deal: Touchstone Television and ABC have signed Marissa Jaret Winokur, the Broadway star of “Hairspray,” to a one-year talent holding deal. The studio and network will develop a project specifically for the actress, and the deal will begin after Ms. Winokur’s run in “Hairspray” has ended.

Gene Blythe, executive VP of casting for ABC Entertainment Television Group, said, “Several networks and studios were after Marissa, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her in the ABC/Touchstone family.”

Ms. Winokur’s feature film credits include “American Beauty,” “Never Been Kissed” and “Scary Movie.” Her television guest-starring roles include “Boston Public,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Felicity” and “Just Shoot Me.” She is represented by Suzie Schwartz and Andy Strausser at SDB Partners, Michael Valeo from McKeon-Valeo Management and Doug Stone of Stone, Meyer and Genow.

Klein joins Endeavor: Lance Klein, a veteran new media executive at International Creative Management, has joined Endeavor Agency as an agent in the alternative TV programming department. Mr. Klein will work alongside fellow alt. agents Sean Perry and Greg Horangic.

Mr. Klein had most recently spent two years as VP of new media at International Creative Management (ICM) where he identified, negotiated and oversaw agreements between new media companies and entertainment clients including networks, studios, Web sites and individuals.

He had previously served as a television packaging agent at ICM dealing in syndication, cable and network reality programming. Mr. Klein packaged the syndicated hit “Blind Date” and the hit PBS animated series “Sagwa: The Chinese Siamese Cat.”

Before ICM, Klein served as VP of Microcast, a company providing consumers with live and archived programming on demand. He was responsible for forging Microcast’s business relationships with Hollywood companies, including Warner Bros., Universal, MGM and Tribune Entertainment.