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Oct 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Wednesday, Oct 23

‘Jenny Jones’ ruling overturned

The Michigan Court of Appeals this morning overturned the $29 million judgment entered against “The Jenny Jones Show” in 1999 stemming from the murder of a former guest, Scott Amedure, by another guest, Jonathan Schmitz. The Court held that the show “had no duty to anticipate and prevent the act of murder committed by Schmitz three days after leaving [the] studio and hundreds of miles away,” and ordered the trial court to enter judgment on behalf of the show and its production company, Telepictures Productions.

“We are deeply gratified by the court’s ruling” Telepictures President Jim Paratore said. “This important victory, however, in no way diminishes the tragedy of Scott Amedure’s death. We continue to extend our deepest sympathy to the Amedure family for their terrible loss. But for seven years our position consistently and steadfastly has been that the show was not to blame for this brutal murder, and the court today affirmed that the case against us had no legal merit and should have been thrown out of court long before it ever went to trial.”

In its ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals said Mr. Amedure’s murder was completely unforeseeable, and therefore “The Jenny Jones Show” had neither the ability nor the duty to predict and prevent it.

“Scott Amedure’s murder was a horrible tragedy, but I have always believed that it was fundamentally wrong and unfair to blame the show,” Ms. Jones said. “I am thrilled that the Court of Appeals agreed that the show could not possibly have predicted and prevented this brutal crime.”

AOL Time Warner restates, reduces AOL’s financial numbers: Saying it has found several additional instances of questionable accounting of advertising deals in recent years at its America Online, AOL Time Warner late Wednesday informed the Securities and Exchange Commission it will restate and reduce the historical financial numbers for the unit. As a result, America Online advertising and commerce revenues were reduced by $190 million, or 1 percent, and its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were reduced by $97 million, or 1.5 percent, for the eight quarters from Sept. 30, 2000, to June 30, 2002.

AOL Time Warner said its overall consolidated operating income for the period was reduced by $83 million, and its overall net income was reduced by $46 million. The company, the SEC and the Justice Department continue their parallel probes of America Online’s accounting practices.

AOL Time Warner reported third-quarter results that met or exceeded analyst expectations. A 1 percent decline in earnings to $2.2 billion on a 6 percent rise in revenues to $10 billion was driven by gains in all of its cable, online and magazine subscriber revenues and television networks. That was offset by a 30 percent decline in earnings to $432 million on a 7 percent decline in revenues to $2.2 billion at America Online.

Company officials said they stand behind their 2002 full-year forecast for a 5 percent earnings rise on a 5 percent to 8 percent rise in revenues, but for the first time, raised the possibility of having to take a substantial noncash charge based on current market conditions and lower-than-expected results at the AOL division in the fourth quarter.

UPN stays in the ‘Zone’: UPN has given a nine-episode extension order to the freshman remake of “The Twilight Zone,” making a full season’s 22-episode order.

The decision to extend the order on the sci-fi anthology series is based on what UPN says is 73 percent retention from the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) Tuesday lead-in of “Enterprise” among total viewers (3.89 million vs. 5.32 million), according to Nielsen Media Research national data.

Furthermore, network officials pointed out that “Twilight Zone’s” 1.7 rating/4 share average in adults 18 to 49 is maintaining 68 percent retention from “Enterprise” (2.5/7) for the first four weeks of the 2002-03 season. Last season, before the cancellation of “Special Unit 2,” it had maintained only 56 percent retention of “Enterprise’s” demo score.

However, it should be noted that “Twilight Zone” is off by 11 percent from what “Special Unit 2” averaged in the key demo (1.9/5) over the comparable year-ago span. The lower baseline for “Twilight Zone’s” ratings could also be attributable to the fact that “Enterprise’s” current adults 18 to 49 demo average is down roughly 40 percent from the comparable year-ago span (4.3/14), and minus 50 percent when including its two-hour premiere bow (5.3/14).”