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Dec 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Ramseys Sue Fox News

The Fox News Network has been sued by the parents of JonBenet Ramsey for defamation in a federal lawsuit demanding $12 million. The suit charges that a story on Fox News marking the sixth anniversary of the 6-year-old’s disappearance and death incorrectly made the parents appear to be suspects in the case.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Atlanta by John and Patsy Ramsey, who have maintained their innocence all along. The child was strangled and beaten to death Dec. 26, 1996, in the basement of the family home in Boulder, Colo.

Since then prosecutors and a federal judge have indicated that there is evidence that an intruder killed the child. The lawsuit relates to an interview in which a man stated there is no evidence linking an intruder to the killing. Mr. And Mrs. Ramsey, now living in Atlanta, have never been charged with any crime.

A Fox News spokesman did not return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.

MSNBC Pulls Plug on ‘Jesse Ventura’s America’: “Jesse Ventura’s America” is going dark indefinitely. MSNBC President Erik Sorenson notified the staff at the all-news channel Tuesday that Mr. Ventura will continue to serve as a political commentator during “the all-important 2004 campaign season,” but the Saturday show is gone less than three months after it launched.

The project was plagued by delays from the start. Mr. Ventura, fresh off his lone term as governor of Minnesota, announced on “The Tonight Show” in February that the speculation was true: He would host a weeknight show on MSNBC, which has been unable to climb out of deep third place in the cable news competition.

Originally the show was to have originated from Los Angeles and MSNBC’s Secaucus studios, but it proved difficult to find a format that fit the aggressive personality of Mr. Ventura, who became famous as a pro wrestler. And Mr. Ventura upended the development process by declaring he wanted to originate from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Then MSNBC decided Mr. Ventura should do a weekly show for the little-watched Saturday lineup — where talk shocker Michael Savage had an abortive and unproductive run last summer — instead of weeknights.

The show finally debuted Oct. 4 to no buzz. It has averaged 249,000 viewers, 105,000 of them in the target 25 to 54 news demographic. While that was an improvement over third-quarter performance in the time period, it was not enough to justify the expense of a studio and a staff in Minnesota, where it reportedly was not easy to scour up audiences.

“I’ve decided to focus the majority of our resources on Monday-to-Friday prime time in 2004,” said Mr. Sorenson, who has been fine-tuning his budget for 2004, in his internal memo. “Consequently, the holiday hiatus for ‘Jesse Ventura’s America’ will continue indefinitely.”

Taking the place of the show will be taped documentary programming.

Winfrey Remains No. 1 Personality: According to an annual poll done by Harris Interactive, Oprah Winfrey is once again Americans’ favorite TV personality. She received the same honor in 1998, 2000 and 2002, and in the 11 years the poll has been taken, has always ranked among the top three, according to an announcement by Harris.

Fourth place went to Ray Romano, who dropped from the No. 2 position last year. Jay Leno was No. 5, his best showing ever, up from No. 9 last year. The survey among a nationwide sample of 1,109 adults was conducted between Nov. 17 and Nov. 21.

Other TV personalities who made it into the top 10 this year are Dr. Phil McGraw, talk show host, and Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, tied at No. 6; William Petersen of the CBS drama “CSI,” who made the list for the first time at No. 8; Whoopi Goldberg, who now stars in her own TV series, at No. 9; and Jennifer Aniston (who was No. 6 last year), Ellen DeGeneres and Martin Sheen, all tied at No. 10.

Three people dropped off the list this year: Katie Couric (No. 4 in 2002), Tom Brokaw (No. 8) and Dan Rather (No. 10).

WB, USA to Share ‘Elf’: The WB has agreed to share the holiday blockbuster “Elf” with USA Network. The WB will get to run the picture twice during a very narrow window in late December 2007 and 2008. Those runs can be proceeded by multiple runs on cable’s USA Network anytime from July through mid-December. USA will have the film to itself in 2009. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but demand for the film ensured that distributor New Line will receive at least $25 million, or more than 15 percent of the film’s domestic box office, now at $154 million. The WB already shares another holiday-season staple, “The Wizard of Oz,” in a similar arrangement with cable. Turner’s cable networks have aired the Judy Garland classic before The WB’s turn in each of the past two years, with The WB still drawing a good audience.