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Dec 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

ABC Family’s Mancuso Passes Away After Long Illness

Linda Mancuso, senior VP and head of programming for ABC Family Channel, died on Sunday, Dec. 7, according to ABC Family. Ms. Mancuso battled cancer for six years. She was 44.

“Linda made so many contributions to our industry. Her love of the creative process, talent and her team, were inspiring to everyone who came in contact with her. We will remember her warmth, humor and generosity of spirit forever,” said Anne Sweeney, President, ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channel Worldwide.

Ms. Mancuso joined ABC Family after spending more than 20 years at NBC where she became chief operating officer at Peter Engel Productions/NBC Enterprises. In that role, she oversaw prime time series production including more than 500 half-hours of teen comedies for the NBC network, cable and syndication. In addition to series development and production oversight, she served as president of Beyond Talent Management.

Prior to that she served for four years as VP of prime time series at NBC. She was part of the prime time development team and the current executive on the first two seasons of “ER.” She also was instrumental in the launch of “Saved By The Bell.”

Ms. Mancuso received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University. She is survived by her sister Laura, brothers Rob and Rick and nieces and nephews Adam, Cassie, Nick and Rock. A memorial Mass will be held Saturday in Chicago and a memorial service in Los Angeles January 14. The family asks that donations be sent to The Linda Mancuso Memorial Fund at Good Samaritan Hospital Cancer Institute, 1225 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90017.

Sharpton ‘SNL’ Appearance Gets Strong Ratings: The Rev. Al Sharpton’s turn as host of “Saturday Night Live” produced the show’s highest overnight average-a 6.4 rating/14 share-since the March 14, 2003 appearance of Salma Hayek. The show earned the rating despite the fact that nine NBC affiliates in the 55 metered markets in the sample carried an encore “SNL” rather than the Sharpton “SNL” for fear they’d be vulnerable to demands from other Democratic presidential hopefuls for equal time.

Thirty-two affiliates representing 14.5 percent of the TV homes in the country pre-empted the Sharpton “SNL,” which means they also missed the first live appearance by Paris Hilton since her sex tape scandal broke, resulting in her canceling all press appointments scheduled in conjunction with the debut of her hit reality series, “The Simple Life,” on Fox last week. She submitted to a series of double-entendre questions from “Weekend Update’s” Jimmy Fallon.

The cautious affiliates also missed a series of “Snoozeville, U.S.A.”-style jokes at their expense.

In New York, “SNL” earned an 8.4/17, the biggest score in the overnights.

All four NBC affiliates in Iowa declined to carry “SNL” because of Rev. Sharpton’s participation. There also were pre-emptions in California, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oklahoma, where Rev. Mr. Sharpton has filed candidacy papers. He also has filed papers in Washington, a spokesman for his campaign said. A statement posted on the Web site of Raycom-owned KWWL-TV in Waterloo summed up the situation that confronts the stations in Iowa, where caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 19.

“The equal time rule states that television stations must treat all legitimate candidates equally. KWWL-TV cannot be responsible for providing equal opportunity for up to eight candidates. NBC has taken the position that it is up to the individual stations to comply with these rules. Iowa is in a unique position with the early caucuses and no clear-cut definition of who is qualified and who isn’t,” the statement said.

“Since NBC is declining to offer equal time during network programming and is not offering any alternative ‘Saturday Night Live’ programming, we have no choice but to pre-empt [the] network,” said the statement. “NBC is aware of our decision and supports our decision.”

“Since Sharpton’s appearance on ‘SNL’ is not a regularly scheduled newscast, the ‘equal time’ rules would apply,” said Jim Boyer, general manager of New York Times-owned WHO-TV in Des Moines, in a statement on his station’s Web site. WHO-TV aired an “SNL” encore Saturday night.

NBC issued a statement that said: “For a variety of reasons, we do not believe Rev. Al Sharpton’s appearance is subject to demands for equal time. That being said, our affiliates are, of course, able to make their own judgments which has led some to pre-empt the show.”

GLAAD Announces Media Award Noms: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has nominated HBO’s “Angels in America,” Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and ESPN’s “Playmakers” for its annual Media Awards. The awards honor media organizations for positive representations of the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

Television Media Award nominees were divided almost equally between cable (18 nominees) and broadcast networks (17 nominees). Among the broadcast networks, ABC led the way with five nominations. HBO and Showtime led cable nominees with four and three nods, respectively.

The Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on March 27, in New York on April 12 and in San Francisco on June 5.

ABC Renews ‘Kimmel’: ABC has picked up a second season of late-night show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “Kimmel” debuted after the Super Bowl this year on Jan. 26 and has shown growth in total viewers and adults 18 to 34. “Kimmel” is averaging 1.74 million viewers season-to-date, up 17 percent from its average last season (Jan. 27 to Sept. 21, 2003). It’s also up 17 percent among adults 18 to 34 with a 0.7 average rating. “We’ve always known Jimmy’s had a great deal of raw talent,” said ABC Entertainment Television Group Chairman Lloyd Braun. “It’s exciting watching him use that talent to become such a dynamic and gifted late-night host. The sky is the limit for Jimmy and this show.”

Fox Moves Up ‘Idol’ Premiere Date, Adds More ‘Simple Life’: Fox moved up the premiere date of the third “American Idol” by a day. It will now premiere on Monday, Jan. 19, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and air hour-long episodes for three consecutive nights. It will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Wednesday, Jan. 21. “Idol” will then air in its regular time slots on Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Fox also added an original episode of “The Simple Life” to its schedule on Wednesday, Dec. 17. It will air from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first two episodes of the series, which aired last week, will repeat on Thursday, Dec. 11, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fox is also planning a mini-marathon of the first four episodes on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Time Warner Cable Expands its Telephone Service: Building on the success of a trial run in Maine, Time Warner Cable said today that it is rolling out its cable-based telephone service in additional markets and has tapped telecommunications giants MCI and Sprint to help with the effort.

The nation’s No. 2 cable operator said it will rely on MCI and Sprint to deliver calls, provide enhanced 911 service, carry long-distance traffic and assist in local number portability as the cable operator expands the service to other systems.

Already, Time Warner has expanded the service to systems in North Carolina. The company wouldn’t say which of its nearly 11 million subscribers in 27 states will be offered the service next.

Time Warner’s telephony product, called Digital Phone, offers unlimited local and long distance service using voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) technology, the format most cable operators, most notably Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems, have adopted to deliver telephone service to cable customers.

Bypassing traditional telephone networks, and many of the regulations governing them, VoIP technology breaks phone conversations into digital packets that are then transmitted over the same networks that carry e-mail and Web content.

Messier-Vivendi Court Date Set: A French court today set Jan. 26 as the date on which Vivendi Universal and its deposed chairman and CEO, Jean
-Marie Messier, will face off in court in their battle over whether Mr. Messier is to be paid a $23 million severance package to which he says he is entitled.

The Paris Tribunal de Commerce ordered Vivendi to produce records of board meeting minutes and attendance, plus notifications of those meetings, in connection with the legal fight.

The battle between Mr. Messier, who was ousted in July 2002, and Vivendi centers on a severance payment Mr. Messier claims he is due. Vivendi disputes that claim, asserting the severance package did not get proper board approval.

DuPont Awards Announced: “Frontline” programs will receive three silver batons at the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards Jan. 21 when “ABC News Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel hosts the annual ceremony honoring excellence in TV and radio journalism.

The award winners, selected from nearly 600 submissions, are:

* ABC News and Ted Koppel for “Nightline: Tip of the Spear,” a one-hour special drawn from his experience as an embedded correspondent during the war in Iraq.

* CBS News and David Martin for coverage of national security.

* “Frontline: A Dangerous Business” on PBS, a collaborative report by “Frontline,” The New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Co. on accidents and fatalities at McWane foundries.

* “Frontline: Failure to Protect: The Taking of Logan Marr”; “The Caseworker Files”; and “A National Dialogue” on PBS, a three-hour report that uses one tragic case to look at child welfare.

* “Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero” on PBS, a two-hour report on the impact of Sept. 11 on spirituality.

* HBO and Maysles Films Inc., “LaLee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton,” a report on the intersection of education and poverty.

* KBCI-TV, Boise, “Shake-Up at City Hall,” a report on corruption.

* KHOU-TV, Houston, “Evidence of Errors,” an investigation of the city police department’s troubled crime lab.

* KMGH-TV, Denver, “Honor and Betrayal: Scandal at the Academy.”

* National Public Radio, for coverage of the war in Iraq.

* “P.O.V.,” Whitney Dow and Marco Williams, “Two Towns of Jasper,” an exploration of race relations in the Texas town where James Byrd Jr. was chained to a truck and dragged to his death, on PBS.

* WESH-TV, Orlando, and Dan Billow for coverage of the Columbia space shuttle disaster.

* WTVF-TV, Nashville, “Friends in High Places,” reports on contracts awarded by the Tennessee governor’s office.Highlights of the ceremony, an hour-long program titled “Without Fear or Favor: The Best in Broadcast Journalism,” hosted by “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, will air at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 26 on public broadcasting stations.