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Jul 28, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Bob Hope Dead at 100

Funnyman Bob Hope, the movie and radio star who made a seamless transition to television in its earliest days and entertained America’s troops around the world during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, died last night at the age of 100. Cause of death was pneumonia.

Mr. Hope passed away in his longtime home in Toluca Lake, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, surrounded by his family and near his fabled joke vault, a large room in his estate devoted completely, floor-to-ceiling, to files of the one-liners and jokes he amassed in his seven-decade career.

Asked once by a young reporter if he had any regrets, the comedian, known as a sharp businessman as well as a consummate entertainer, replied that he only wished he’d bought a string of television stations in the medium’s early days when he’d had the opportunity.

Mr. Hope also starred in more than 50 motion pictures and, though he never won an Oscar for his film work, was for years a mainstay of the annual Academy Awards show as its host.

NAB Reverts to Board-Mandated Position on Ownership Cap Rollback: In the wake of a meeting of the National Association of Broadcasters board in Washington today, NAB said it is going back to its original board-mandated position of support for legislation to roll back the national ownership cap to 35 percent, at least for the time being.

NAB chief Eddie Fritts surprised key board members a couple of weeks ago when he announced that the association had decided, without a board vote, to oppose all legislation to overturn any aspect of the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership deregulation — including legislation that focused exclusively on the cap — because NAB was afraid it wouldn’t be able to prevent lawmakers from adding amendments to roll back deregulatory provisions broadcasters support.

NAB’s latest shift comes in the wake of a 400-21 vote by the House of Representatives to approve appropriations legislation that includes a Network Affiliated Stations Alliance-supported rider that focuses exclusively on the cap. “So long as it’s a clean 35 percent rollback, NAB will support that legislation strongly,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the NAB.

Mr. Wharton also said the NAB board decided to limit its legal appeals of the FCC’s deregulatory decision to one provision limiting radio ownership opportunities and another that many broadcasters believe fails to provide sufficient duopoly relief. In addition, Mr. Wharton said the board decided to let NASA “take the lead” in the legal appeals of the FCC’s decision to raise the national TV ownership cap to 45 percent of the nation’s TV households.

The board, according go to Mr. Wharton, also gave Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO, a unanimous vote of confidence.

Hallmark Lands ‘MASH’: The Hallmark Channel will soon become “MASH” HQ when it kicks off an exclusive cable run of the acclaimed series with a Labor Day marathon beginning Sept. 1. Each episode has been digitally remastered and will air uncut with content from its original 11-year run. During the holiday marathon Hallmark will also show the 1970 feature film “MASH” and a “Memories of “MASH” 20th anniversary special.

Mediacom to Distribute Mag Rack: Mag Rack, Rainbow Media’s on-demand “video magazine” service for hobbyists and other niche enthusiasts, has reached a multiyear digital distribution agreement with Mediacom Communications, the nation’s eighth-largest cable operator.

The first three Mediacom systems to launch Mag Rack are in Mobile, Ala., Moline, Ill., and Des Moines, Iowa, beginning Aug. 31. Mediacom will continue to roll out Mag Rack as additional systems become VOD-enabled.

Multiple system operators Charter, Insight and Cablevision, the parent of Rainbow Media, also make Mag Rack available to their digital customers.

Showtime Networks Picks Up ‘Sparkhouse,’ ‘ Best of Both Worlds’: Showtime Networks has picked up “Sparkhouse” and “The Best of Both Worlds,” two British miniseries, and a second season of British domestic comedy series “Linda Green” from BBC Worldwide Americas.

“Sparkhouse,” a three-episode period drama, tells the story of star-crossed young lovers. “Both Worlds,” also a three-parter, is the tale of an airline stewardess with a double life.

The new programming will air on Showtime Women, one of the Showtime digital networks, beginning this September.

Granada Announces Reality Prod Slate

Granada USA N.Y. Announces Reality Productions for Cable: Granada USA New York has announced three prime-time reality productions for cable nets. The new programs are:

“Airline,” a half-hour show that goes behind the scenes of Southwest Airlines. “Airline” is being produced for A&E and is based on a United Kingdom show with the same title.

“Room Mates,” for MTV, where a person has to choose a date based on the contents and conditions of their bedroom.

“House of Dreams,” for A&E, where 13 contestants spend a summer building a dream home in Florida that only one will win.

Orlando Named NAB Government Relations Exec VP: John Orlando, acting chief of government relations for the National Association of Broadcasters, today was named executive VP of the department. He succeeds Jim May, who resigned as the association’s top lobbyist earlier this year to become president and CEO of the Air Transport Association. Mr. Orlando was formerly a lobbyist for CBS and an aide to Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

Goit Promoted at A&E: Whitney Goit II has been promoted to senior executive VP at A&E Television Networks. He will be responsible for all revenue-generating activities at A&E, including advertising sales, affiliate sales, consumer products and international. Previously, he was executive VP overseeing the ad sales, integrated marketing, research, corporate communications and creative solutions departments.

Garvey Leaving NBC, Starting Consulting Firm: Vic Garvey, who established NBC’s corporate special events department in 1987 and went on to help stage major corporate and customer marketing events, ranging from NBC upfront presentations and NBA championships to Wimbledon and the Olympics, is leaving NBC after 20 years to start his own executive consulting team.

Mr. Garvey, whose most recent title was senior VP of NBC Olympics, was with NBC for 20 years. He has signed a multiyear consulting deal with NBC but also will consult with other clients.