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News Briefs

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

NBC News has won the competition for Richard Engel, who became a star of the war in Iraq as a free-lancer who stayed in Baghdad, reporting for ABC News, after other U.S. TV news crews were ordered out either by their protective management or by the Iraqi government.
Mr. Engel, 29, will be based in Baghdad and will cover the Middle East (where he has lived since graduating from Stanford University in 1996), Asia, Africa and Europe. He is fluent in Spanish, Italian and several Arabic dialects. His resume also cuts across borders. He has reported for The World (produced by the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH Radio in Boston) and has written for USA Today, Reuters, AFP and Jane’s Defence Weekly.
“I am grateful to ABC News for the opportunity to report on the war with Iraq from Baghdad,” said Mr. Engel, who reported from Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel on the room-rattling first night of coalition bombing of the Iraqi capital.
Cheskin Discovering Other Options
Steve Cheskin, an 18-year Discovery Networks veteran, has resigned his position as executive VP and general manager of the Travel Channel and is leaving the company.
Mr. Cheskin’s current contract expires this week and he is moving on to other opportunities, according to a Discovery spokeswoman. He has headed the Travel Channel for the past three years.
20th Reups `24’s’ Cochran
Robert Cochran, co-creator and executive producer of the Fox hit 24, has signed a new two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television, which co-produces the second-year drama with Imagine Television.
Mr. Cochran will develop new TV series for the studio as well as continue as the showrunner for 24.
Lifetime Orders Two Series
Lifetime Television has given the series green light to 1-800-Missing and Wild Card, two of the four pilots it unveiled at its upfront presentation earlier this month, and most likely will use them to anchor Saturdays, its second night of original programming.
Both 1-800-Missing and Wild Card have been given 13-episode orders and will premiere in August. 1-800-Missing stars Gloria Rueben as a female FBI agent whose partner is a young woman who has the psychic ability to find missing people. Wild Card stars Joely Fisher as a former Las Vegas blackjack dealer who assumes care of her sister’s children and stumbles into a career as an insurance fraud investigator.
For the 2003-04 season nearly 60 percent of the network’s lineup will consist of original programming, the highest percentage in its history.
RTNDF Founder Dies
Col. Barney Oldfield, USAF (Ret.), founder of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, died April 26 in Los Angeles. He was 93.
Col. Oldfield was a World War II correspondent, a broadcast journalist, a publicist and a scriptwriter. In 1967, as chair of the finance and fund-raising committee of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, he launched an effort to endow a broadcast journalism scholarship. The result was to establish the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation. Today, RTNDF awards 22 scholarships and fellowships, including the Barney and Vada Oldfield National Security Reporting Fellowship.