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Nov 11, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Art Carney Dead at 85

Art Carney, who won seven Emmys and an Academy Award but will always be remembered as Jackie Gleason’s pal Norton in “The Honeymooners,” has died at age 85 in Chester, Conn., of natural causes.

Mr. Carney, who most recently was living in a nursing home, appeared on TV, screen and Broadway during a career that spanned seven decades. He last appeared on the big screen in a supporting role in “Last Action Hero” in 1993 and on the small screen as the star of a made-for-TV movie called “Where Pigeons Go to Die” in 1990.

The image of Mr. Carney that will live on forever in reruns is that of the not-too-bright sewer worker and best friend of Mr. Gleason’s Ralph Kramden. He wore a turned up porkpie hat, a slightly dirty white T-shirt and an open vest when in character, greeting his best friend and neighbor with his shout of “Hey, Ralphie boy.”

Norton was always getting caught up in Kramden’s schemes, adding his own signature approach to every situation, usually with an exaggerated style that would make his buddy crazy.

Mr. Gleason often said that Mr. Carney’s great skill as an actor made him work harder and be better at what he did. Mr. Carney went on to a successful film career in the 1970s in hits such as “The Late Show,” “House Calls” and “Harry and Tonto,” for which he won an Oscar as Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1974.

Mr. Carney was born Arthur William Matthew Carney in Mount Vernon, N.Y, Nov. 4, 1918, into an Irish Catholic family. His father was a journalist and a publicist. He began his career in amateur theatricals and got his first professional job in 1937 with Horace Heidt’s band, where he did impressions of popular radio personalities and sang novelty songs.

He married his childhood sweetheart and then divorced her. He later broke up with his second wife and remarried his first wife. He had three children.

ABC, CBS in Close Race for Monday: ABC and CBS finished neck-and-neck in the adults 18 to 49 race last night.

ABC had a first-place 5.7/15 in the demo, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data, but that number could change once final numbers are in for “Monday Night Football,” which featured a fourth-quarter comeback by the Philadelphia Eagles over the Green Bay Packers.

CBS was close behind with a 5.6/14 for the night in adults 18 to 49, thanks to strong performances by “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.2/15) and “CSI: Miami” (6.8/18).

The second episode of NBC’s reality show “Average Joe” dropped 21 percent week to week in the demo to a 4.6/12. It scored 9.3 million total viewers, about 2 million below the previous week. However, “Joe” is up 15 percent in adults 18 to 49 over the time slot’s previous performance this year.

Also of note, The WB and UPN tied in adults 18 to 49 for the night with a 1.4 rating. The WB’s “7th Heaven” beat Fox’s “Joe Millionaire” in total viewers with 6.8 million to 5.5 million.

For the night, ABC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7/15, followed by CBS (5.6/14), NBC (4.9/12), Fox (2.2/5), The WB (1.4/4) and UPN (1.4/3). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 16.2 million, followed by ABC (15.2 million), NBC (11 million), Fox (5.6 million), The WB (4.1 million) and UPN (3.2 million).

Udoji Joins CNN: CNN has hired Adaora Udoji as a New York-based correspondent. Ms. Udoji, a former correspondent for ABC’s NewsOne feed for affiliates, had been based in London, where her husband of a year, NBC News correspondent Ron Allen, was based until being transferred to New York late last summer.

McAtee to Retire From WYFF: David F. McAtee, who has been president and general manager of WYFF-TV, Hearst-Argyle Television’s NBC affiliate in Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C., for 10 years, has announced he will retire at the end of 2003.

His successor will be announced shortly, said David J. Barrett, Hearst-Argyle Television president and CEO, who praised Mr. McAtee for having “helped shape some of the country’s best television stations. … He leaves an impressive legacy of management, community service and journalistic integrity for many television professionals to admire and emulate.”

Mr. McAtee began his 43-year television career as a production assistant at WLWI-TV (later to become WTHR-TV) in Indianapolis. He went on to production posts at KQTV in St. Joseph, Mo., and KWWL-TV in Waterloo, Iowa, before serving in sales positions, first with KETV in Omaha and later with WYFF-TV and WSET-TV, Lynchburg, Va., and WGAL-TV, Lancaster/Harrisburg, Pa., the latter two as general manager. In 1993, he returned to WYFF as general manager. KETV, WGAL and WYFF all were Pulitzer Broadcasting stations; Hearst-Argyle acquired Pulitzer Broadcasting in March 1999.

Granite Broadcasting Q3 Profits Slip: Granite Broadcasting said Tuesday that it posted a widened third-quarter loss of $14.4 million, or 76 cents a share, vs. a year-earlier loss of $7.4 million, or 39 cents a share, even as the company reported an improvement in local advertising revenue at its eight television stations.

Revenue at the New York-based company slipped 1.4 percent to $25.7 million, hurt by a $1.8 million drop in political advertising to $500,000 during the quarter. Excluding the effects of the absence of political advertising, Granite said its revenue would have increased nearly 5 percent.

At the company’s Big 3 Network-affiliated stations, which contribute 68 percent to the company’s overall revenue number, revenue fell 1.5 percent, as the effects of political advertising offset a 9 percent rise in nonpolitical local advertising. Nationally, nonpolitical ad revenue was flat, the company said. Station operating expenses rose 7 percent, thanks to rising health-care costs.

At the company’s WB affiliates, revenue fell 1.4 percent, driven by a 2 percent decline in national nonpolitical advertising. Local nonpolitical advertising jumped 5 percent.

WB Orders More of Four Series: The WB gave full season orders to sitcoms “Like Family” and “Run of the House.” Sitcom “All About the Andersons” and variety show “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” also received orders for extra episodes. All three sitcoms are produced by Warner Bros. TV and “Steve Harvey” is produced by sister studio Telepictures.

Loesch, Stein Launch Agency: Former Fox Kids Network and Hallmark Channel President Margaret Loesch and former Mattel President Bruce Stein have launched The Hatchery, which aims to develop family and kids entertainment and consumer product concepts. Also a partner in the new agency is award-winning producer-writer Dan Angel, whose credits include “Door to Door,” “Goosebumps” and “X-Files.”

Investors in The Hatchery include the top two executives of Mandalay Entertainment Group, Chairman and CEO Peter Guber and Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Paul Schaeffer, who also will serve on the operating committee.

In addition to developing franchises from new properties such as film festival hit “The Freak,” The Hatchery intends to revive old franchises. Ms. Loesch is producing “Benji Returns: Rags to Riches” for theatrical release in summer 2004.

“We’ve assembled a group of entrepreneurs, each of whom has proven accomplishments and creativity in specialized areas,” said Ms. Loesch, an Emmy- and Peabody-winning producer-turned-executive. “Our collective creative backgrounds enable us to identify or create those intellectual properties that fit perfectly within our niche. We will be a much-needed launch pad for the small property creator and a valuable resource for larger players who seek the efficiencies and creative and strategic skills of a streamlined group of professionals in maximizing the potential of their properties.”

Cablevision Probes Expands to Other Divisions; Company Reports Q3 Loss: Cablevision Systems said Tuesday the accounting probe that began earlier this year and led to the dismissal of 14 Rainbow Media executives in June has been broadened to include other divisions of the cable company and will likely result in a restatement of the company’s 2003 financial results.

Announced in an earnings release that reported a widened third-quarter loss, Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision said th
e investigation by law firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering has discovered another $15 million of improperly booked expenses dating back to 2002 and before. This is in addition to the $6.2 million in improperly booked expenses revealed in June (of which $4.5 million has already been properly booked into the correct years, leaving $1.7 million to still be reconciled) and another $3.4 million announced in August.

The company also stated that Wilmer, Cutler’s investigation had been broadened beyond the initial focus on the Rainbow Media unit’s AMC and WE: Women’s Entertainment networks to now include the telecommunications division, which includes the company’s cable systems, Madison Square Garden and the parent company. “The investigation includes a thorough financial evaluation of the facts relating to improper expense recognition and suggestions for improvement of the company’s internal controls,” Cablevision said in a statement.

The discovery of the new crop of rogue expenses will force the company to restate its earnings from the first three quarters of 2003, including the numbers released Tuesday, by the end of November.

According to Cablevision, the investigation this month discovered another $3.8 million in expenses at WE and AMC that were booked in 2003 but should have been reported in earlier years. The probe also found $5 million in improperly booked expenses at other operations within Rainbow Media and another $1.3 million in wrongly booked sales and marketing, maintenance and consulting expenses at other Cablevision units.

The latest revelation comes as Cablevision reported a widened third-quarter loss of $104.6 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with red ink of $79.5 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 12 percent to $975.8 million, driven by revenue growth at the cable systems and advertising and affiliate fee growth at Rainbow.

The cable systems unit reported a 15 percent rise in revenue to $693.5 million, while operating income advanced 17 percent to $76.8 million, thanks to growth in both digital cable and high-speed data services. At Rainbow, revenue climbed 17 percent to $149.7 million, while operating income surged 54 percent to $59.8 million.

(The third-quarter numbers do no reflect the expected restatement coming at month’s end.)

Cablevision said it saw a 157,700 jump in digital cable subscriptions and a 63,700 jump in high-speed data subscriptions. The company lost 8,900 basic cable subscribers, largely due to slower-than-expected completion of the upgrading of cable systems in New York City.

Looking ahead, Cablevision lowered its full-year revenue growth guidance for its cable operations to 11.5 percent to 12.5 percent over 2002 revenue from an earlier growth rate of 12 percent to 14 percent, while revenue growth at Rainbow is expected to now grow by between 18 percent and 20 percent over 2002 levels, vs. previous estimates of 17 percent to 19 percent growth. Total company revenue growth is now expected to grow between 9 percent and 11 percent, down from earlier estimates of 10 percent and 12 percent.

Hallmark Movie Channel Launch Set for January: Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Holdings, said Tuesday it plans to launch Hallmark Movie Channel in January 2004. The new channel will be designed to help operators sell digital service and digital movie tiers. It will also be used help Hallmark boost distribution of its main channel, now available in about 56 million homes. The channel will be programmed with movies from Hallmark’s library and will cost a few hundred thousand dollars to launch, said David Evans, president and CEO of Crown Media and Hallmark Channel. Hallmark Channel, which shows only one movie per day, also said it acquired the rights to the series “Diagnosis Murder” and “Magnum P.I.”

Media Buyer Reports Young Men Still Watching Sports: An analysis of ratings trends found that those elusive young men in the 18 to 34 demographic are still watching sports on TV, according to Steve Sternberg, head of research at media buyer Magna Global USA. Although ratings in the demo are down 13 percent from last season, they were up 17 percent last year. “Eliminate last season’s numbers, and this year’s ratings are perfectly in line with previous trends,” Mr. Sternberg said in a new report. Demographic ratings for NBA games are up 40 percent from last season. Although the percentage of men watching is off from last year, it’s up from two years ago. Similarly, ratings are up among men 18 to 34 for early NHL hockey telecasts.