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Oct 27, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Tauzin Spokesman Denies MPAA Rumors

Rumors that Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., will succeed Jack Valenti as chief of the Motion Picture Association of America were boiling in Washington Monday in the wake of a report in Saturday’s New York Post alleging that the fun-loving lawmaker had already received the nod for the $1 million post behind the scenes.

Ken Johnson, Rep. Tauzin’s spokesman, said the story-which has been swirling around in one form or another for almost a year-was wrong. “How can he accept a job which hasn’t even been offered to him?” Mr. Johnson said. “No one at MPAA and none of the studio heads that write the checks have talked to him personally about one day replacing Jack Valenti.”

But Mr. Johnson said the rumors have gained enough momentum that House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asked Rep. Tauzin about them Friday. “He did tell the speaker the other day that if Jack Valenti retires and MPAA makes a proposal, he’s willing to hear what they have to say,” Mr. Johnson said. “Is he on their wish list? Probably.” In a story in this morning’s New York Times, Mr. Valenti, 82, is quoted as saying he might retire next year.

Discovery Launches Hospital Web Site: Discovery Communications will provide health care information for hospitals through a new Web site. The project, called Discovery Hospital, offers 5,000 online pages of articles and tools for exclusive use by health care providers. The launch of Discovery Hospital coincides with the announcement of the first hospital to utilize the service, Upson Regional Medical Center in Thurston, Ga.

“Using digital assets from Discovery Health Channel as well as from The Health Network (now FitTV) we were able to leverage the content to provide an important educational service to both hospitals and patients across the country.” said Mark Irwin, VP of operations, Discovery Interactive Media. “Now we can deliver Discovery’s health information to consumers through local hospitals to provide reliable health information to the communities they serve and provide patients with a much greater understanding of the challenges they confront.”

Get Ready for H.Y.P.E. TV: A new premium cable network called H.Y.P.E. TV (as in “Hot Young People’s Entertainment Television”) is planned for launch in 2004. The programming slate will include uncensored music videos, movies, fashion, public affairs and original programming reflecting the hip-hop lifestyle. Key figures include founder Peter Griffith, CEO of hip-hop consumer portal site Hookt.com, and President Tracy Lawrence, a former executive for MTV Networks and Fox Family Channel.

“We have witnessed the growth of hip-hop into a cultural phenomenon with economic, political and social impact so vast that television, with its power to reach millions, is the next natural step,” Mr. Griffith said. “Our carriage strategy will give us the freedom to be true to the hip-hop audience and deliver a no-holds-barred destination for hip-hop devotees.”

H.Y.P.E. TV is in negotiations to secure financial and carriage distribution deals. The network has signed a partnership agreement with Blue Flame Marketing + Advertising, a division of Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group, an entertainment conglomerate owned by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

Fuse Spoofs Bravo in ‘Queer Eye’ Sketch: Fuse’s animated parody program “Behind the Music That Sucks” takes on the Fab Five and Arnold Schwarzenegger in an upcoming episode. This Saturday’s episode includes a segment called “The Arnold Eye for the Girly Guy” in which Mr. Schwarzenegger, Rosie O’Donnell, Ashton Kutcher, Howard Stern and Snoop Dogg make over Michael Jackson into a “manly man.” The team coaches Mr. Jackson in the five areas of “Queer Eye” expertise-food and wine, grooming, fashion, culture and interior design.

Animal Planet to Run ‘Wild Kingdom’: Animal Planet will telecast a second season of the new “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” beginning Dec. 7. The show returns to the 7 p.m. Sunday time slot in which the original series prospered for many years on broadcast network and syndicated TV.

Time Warner to Intro Digital Sports Tier: Time Warner Cable will introduce a Digital Sports Tier for digital customers in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Mount Vernon and mid-Hudson Counties, N.Y., and Bergen and Hudson Counties, N.J. For $3.95 monthly, customers can view NBA TV, Tennis Channel, three Fox Sports Digital Networks and Fuel, beginning Nov. 19.