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Dec 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Wednesday, Dec. 18

‘Frontline’ big winner of Columbia-duPont Awards

Seven reports on Islamic terrorism earned “Frontline” a Gold Baton, the highest of the duPont-Columbia Awards given to news programming that aired between July 1, 2001, and June 30, 2002. The winners announced by Columbia University also include a first-ever foreign-language award-winner.

CNN en Espanol and reporter Jorge Gestoso will pick up a Silver Baton at the Jan. 15 duPont-Columbia ceremony, to be held in the Rotunda of the Low Memorial Library on the university’s campus on New York’s Upper West Side. Mr. Gestoso reported on Argentina’s “disappeared persons.”

Silver Batons also will go to: double winner ABC News for “Nightline’s” series on Rwanda and for Sept. 11 coverage including “Answering Children’s Questions”; Court TV and Lumiere Productions for “Ghosts of Attica”; HBO for “In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01”; KPBS-TV and Lee Harvey for “Culture of Hate: Who Are We?”; National Public Radio for coverage of the events of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan; NBC News and Martin Fletcher for coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; “P.O.V.” and Tasha Oldham for “The Smith Family”; Steeplechase Films, Sierra Club Productions for WGBH (CQ) and “American Experience” for “Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film”; Boston’s WBUR-FM for “Surviving Torture: Inside Out”; WCVB-TV for “Chronicle: Beyond the Big Dig”; and WFAA-TV, Brett Shipp and Mark Smith for “Fake Drugs, Real Lives.”

Mathiesen to ‘Open Exchange’: CNBC finally got around to announcing what viewers of its weeknight “Capital Report With Alan Murray and Tyler Mathisen” learned last Thursday: Mr. Mathisen has signed off “Capital Report” and will begin hosting “Open Exchange With Tyler Mathisen” weekdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. starting Jan. 6. “Exchange” will feature everything from “market-moving information” and discussions to daily segments from CNBC’s Ron Insana and reports from business editors at leading U.S. newspapers.

‘Trio’ sample works in Philadelphia: A recent 90-minute Saturday afternoon time buy on WTXF, the Philadelphia Fox affiliate, by Trio, the Universal Television Group digital arts channel, went over locally like cheese steak, garnering a 1.0 rating that beat the local NBC affiliate, as well as more than 70 cable networks.

The ploy, airing Trio’s original documentaries “Brilliant, But Cancelled” and “Perfect Pitch,” without commercials on a broadcast outlet, was aimed at raising awareness of the channel in the Philly DMA, where Trio, an “emerging” network, has a limited availability.

Minnelli, Gest sue VH1:Entertainer Liza Minnelli and David Gest, her impresario husband, have taken their dispute with VH1 to New York State Supreme Court, filing a $23 million breach-of-contract suit against the cable channel, its corporate parent Viacom and others.

The lawsuit stems from the cable channel’s abrupt October cancellation of a projected reality series to star the couple. The court filing claims the couple’s contract called for payment of $1.25 million for 10 one-hour episodes and that it included a “play or pay” provision.

The complaint also alleges that 60 hours of filming were completed and that the couple has only received an initial $100,000 advance payment.

Moreover, the complaint alleges that a show producer “physically accosted and intimidated” Mr. Gest and that an unnamed Viacom employee defamed him in a New York Post account of the show’s cancellation in which Mr. Gest was described by an anonymous source as being a “control freak” and “almost insane.” That and other early accounts of the cancellation described a tense situation at the couple’s New York apartment in which Mr. Gest interfered with the show’s production and prevented the crew from filming.

A VH1 spokeswoman declined comment, citing the company’s policy against discussing pending litigation.

Showtime sets ‘What’s Going On?’ date: Showtime will premiere “What’s Going On?,” a 10-part documentary series that examines global issues through the eyes of children, on Jan. 19.

Subjects include HIV/AIDS, African refugees, Cambodian landmines, child labor, hunger in the United States and slums in India. Celebrity hosts of the series include Danny Glover, Angelina Jolie, Jeff Bridges, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas.

The RC N Entertainment production will be reprised in Feb. on Showtime FamilyZone, one of the Showtime digital networks.

LIN sells two Texas stations: LIN TV Corp. has reached an agreement to sell its NBC affiliates KRBC-TV, Abilene, Texas, and KACB-TV, San Angelo, Texas, to Mission Broadcasting for $10 million. The deal is expected to close in thwe first half of 2003, pending Federal Communications Commission approval.