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Aug 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Judge Denies Fox News Channel’s Injunction

A judge in New York has denied Fox News Channel its request for an injunction to block humorist Al Franken from using the Fox slogan “fair and balanced” in the title of his new book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said the book is a parody protected by the First Amendment.

“This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally,” Judge Chin said. “It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it.”

The judge also said the “Fair and Balanced” trademark itself is weak, considering those words are used so frequently “in the context of the public marketplace.”

The network had asked that the Penguin Group-which had pushed the publication of “Lies” from September to Aug. 21 to take advantage of the publicity from the lawsuit-be barred from using “Fair and Balanced” on the cover of Mr. Franken’s book or in any promotions of it. Fox said it trademarked the slogan in 1998.

Mr. Franken called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment and “even bad satirists.”

“In addition to thanking my own lawyers,” Mr. Franken said, “I’d like to thank Fox’s lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Penguin and Mr. Franken now could file a motion to dismiss the suit.

Penguin added 50,000 copies to the original run of 270,000 after the suit was filed. On Aug. 22, the book was No. 2 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list, behind “The South Beach Diet.”

A Fox spokesman said the network is considering its options, including an appeal. “We don’t care if it’s Al Franken, Al Lewis or Weird Al Yankovic,” he said. “We’re here to protect our trademark and our talent.”

Lopez to Host ‘Latin Grammy Awards’: George Lopez will host “The 4th Annual Latin Grammy Awards” on Sept. 3. The awards will be broadcast live on CBS from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) from American Airlines Arena in Miami.

‘Amazing Race 4’ Has Strong Finish: “The Amazing Race 4” ended with a victory by married gay couple Chip and Reichen-and the best ratings for the series since its May 29 premiere. “Race” scored a 3.6/12 in adults 18 to 49, good enough for second place in the time slot and was first in total viewers with 9.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. It won the second half-hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a 4.1/13 in adults 18 to 49, up a full ratings point from the first half-hour.

“CSI” won the 9 p.m. hour in 18 to 49 with a 4.8/14-14 percent ahead of NBC’s comedies “Will & Grace” and “Scrubs.” NBC’s stunt at 10 p.m., running an hour-long episode of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” paid off with an 18 to 49 victory over CBS’s “Without a Trace.” “Queer Eye” had a 4.2/12 to “Trace’s” 3.9/11.For the night, CBS and NBC tied in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.1/13, followed by Fox (2.8/9) and ABC (2.2/7). In total viewers, CBS won with 12 million, followed by NBC (8.4 million), Fox (7.3 million) and ABC (6.6 million).

CBS Acquires Rights to Elizabeth Smart’s Life Story: CBS has bought the exclusive broadcast rights to Elizabeth Smart’s life story. CBS will produce a made-for-TV movie in full cooperation with the Smart family, tentatively titled “The Elizabeth Smart Story,” about Ms. Smart’s abduction and return home. Dylan Baker will star as Elizabeth’s dad, Ed Smart. Lindsay Frost will play her mom, Lois Smart. And Amber Marshall will star as Elizabeth Smart. The movie will be executive produced by Patricia Clifford, Jeff Morton, Frank von Zerneck and Robert Sertner for von Zerneck/Sertner Films and Patricia Clifford Productions. The screenplay is being written by Nancey Silvers.

CNN Mum on Dobbs’ Reported Banning of Wesley Clark: CNN was unable to confirm a U.S. News & World Report story that was posted on the Internet Friday that said Lou Dobbs had banned former NATO leader and retired Gen. Wesley Clark from his show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” The anchor reportedly took the action because he believed comments from the longtime military man, who was an analyst for CNN during the Iraq War, were more agenda-driven than analytical. A spokeswoman for the news network did say that the retired general has not been on CNN’s payroll “for some months, ever since it was clear he was actively considering running for president.”

WOTV Lays Off Staffers, Moves Newcast to WOOD: Citing financial and competitive pressures, WOTV-TV, the LIN Broadcasting-owned ABC affiliate located in Battle Creek, Mich., fired nearly all of its 31 news personnel. The station announced it will now carry newscasts produced by WOOD-TV, the LIN-owned NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is in the same West Michigan market, the 38th-largest DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research. Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Mich., news will be fed to WOOD by the two photographers, one producer and one reporter who did not lose their jobs Thursday.