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Jan 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Shock Jock Stern Gets Prime-Time ABC Special

Syndicated radio shock jock and self-declared “king of all media” Howard Stern has an order for a prime-time special on ABC. According to an ABC spokesman, the hour will feature Mr. Stern, “not as you know him on his radio show,” but “buttoned up” interacting with a cross-section of personalities and celebrities. The special will be taped and executive produced by Lee Hoffman.

Videotaped portions of Mr. Stern’s radio show, which originates from New York’s WXRK-FM, are seen nightly on E! Entertainment Television. His raunchy parody of “Baywatch,” “Son of the Beach” lasted three seasons on FX. However, this is his first project on broadcast TV since the 2001 cancellation of “The Howard Stern Radio Show” Saturday night show after three years of low ratings and declining carriage by CBS television affiliates.

Alleged Luster Victim Sues CBS, ’48 Hours’: A California woman who says she was one of the women drugged and assaulted by convicted rapist Andrew Luster is suing CBS and its newsmagazine “48 Hours,” claiming her privacy and a judge’s gag order were violated when “48 Hours” broadcast portions of videotape showing her and taken by Mr. Luster, the great-grandson of the late makeup mogul Max Factor.

The plaintiff, identified as Lynn Doe or Shawna Doe, also named in the suit several people associated with the newsmagazine and with the transaction by which “48 Hours” is alleged to have obtained the tape. They include Elizabeth Luster, the mother of Mr. Luster, who became the subject of an international manhunt after he jumped $1 million bail.

The suit was filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court. The Los Angeles Times reported that the plaintiff seeks $27 million in punitive damages and $3 million in compensatory damages.

A spokeswoman for CBS News declined to comment except to say her company had not seen the lawsuit.

Scientific-Atlanta Reports Q2 Surge: Cable and satellite set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta Thursday reported a 238 percent surge in fiscal second-quarter profit to $51.1 million, or 33 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $15.1 million, or 10 cents a share, in part due to increased shipments of set-top boxes equipped with digital video recorders.

Revenue for the Atlanta-based company rose 18 percent to $416.6 million for the three-month period ended Jan. 2.

The company said its results included a $6.5 million charge associated with its settlement of a lawsuit against German cable operator ish, as well as $6.8 million in income generated by the sale of shares in German cable operator Kabelnetz. In addition, the company took a $6.1 million charge related to a settlement with satellite company ViaSat.

Scientific-Atlanta said the company saw its set-top box bookings surge 38 percent to $460.5 million, while the company’s backlog climbed 6 percent to $404.6 million. The company said its backlog includes orders for 1 million Explorer set-top boxes, including more than 350,000 units with DVR functionality. The company also got its first “significant” Japanese order for digital set-top boxes.

The company reported that it shipped 260,000 DVR-equipped set-top boxes during the quarter, which represented a 47 percent jump over year-ago levels.’Apprentice’ Gets Thursday Berth: After seeing “The Apprentice’s” ratings cut in half with its move to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. against Fox’s juggernaut “American Idol,” NBC has moved the reality series back to Thursday nights permanently. “Apprentice” scored a 10 rating/25 share in adults 18 to 49 last Thursday from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It was only supposed to air on Thursday for two weeks before moving to Wednesday night. However, last night it only managed to pull a 4.9/12 in adults 18 to 49.

Starting next Thursday “The Apprentice” will air from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Friends” will continue to lead off the night at 8 p.m., followed by “Will & Grace,” which moves to 8:30 p.m. from 9 p.m.

The move displaces “Scrubs,” which heads to Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. leading out of “Frasier.” “Whoopi” will start Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. followed by “Happy Family” at 8:30 p.m. Current Tuesday night series “Tracy Morgan” gets bumped to Saturdays at 8 p.m. The odd man out is “Good Morning, Miami,” which loses its place on the schedule.

On Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. NBC will wave the white flag against “Idol” and air repeats of “The Apprentice.”

‘Todd TV’s’ Dire Debut: FX’s new reality series “Todd TV” premiered to 0.7 last night (803,000 homes), dropping more than 50 percent from its lead-in-the film “Dude, Where’s My Car,” which had a 1.5 rating. A rerun of “Todd” at 11 p.m. generated a 0.3 rating.

“Todd TV” is an interactive program where viewers control the decisions of a reality show contestant via phone, text message or e-mail. The premiere failed to build on its time slot from last week, in which reruns of “Cops” generated a 0.7 rating. Movies aired across that slot during December averaged more than a 1 rating.

In an interview last week, FX’s new head of programming, John Landgraf, said he had not “seen one frame” of “Todd TV.”

At the recent Television Critics Association press tour, the panel for “Todd TV” went poorly for FX due to the absence of Todd himself. Explanations that Todd was “home in Hermosa Beach” and “a little scared” didn’t sit well with critics, who expressed concern about the ethical implications of a program where a person’s actions are dictated by home viewers.

“He’s a sturdy guy, but a nervous guy,” said co-executive producer Tom Forman.

‘Bachelor’ Drafts Palmer: NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer is ABC’s newest bachelor. Mr. Palmer, who is a quarterback for the New York Giants, is the first professional athlete to star in “The Bachelor.” The fifth edition will premiere in April.

Pax to Air ‘Making of Passion of Christ’: Pax TV doesn’t usually have hot-button specials during sweeps periods. But the low-profile network has scheduled a one-hour special, “The Making of The Passion of Christ,” to air at 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb.22, and repeat at the same time Tuesday, Feb. 24.

The behind-the-scenes special will air just in time to give another boost to the movie, produced and directed by actor Mel Gibson, which began stirring controversy long before it was completed. With the premiere set for Feb. 25, Mr. Gibson’s Icon Productions screened “The Passion” for several hundred members of various clergy, whose reactions were reported in pieces that aired Wednesday on “Entertainment Tonight” and “Access Hollywood.”

“We are pleased to bring viewers the story behind one of the most talked about and highly anticipated films in recent memory” said Pax Television Network President Bill Scott. “This special gives audiences an opportunity to get a firsthand understanding of Mel Gibson’s vision for this movie.”

A spokeswoman for Pax said the Icon-produced special was purchased by Pax, but she was unable to say the purchase price.

NATAS, ATAS Agree on New Division: A truce has been brokered in the 30-year, not-always-civil war between the East Coast and West Coast TV academies.

Under an agreement approved by the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Board of Trustees of the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will become a division of ATAS, and the Los Angeles Chapter of ATAS will transfer, with full membership rights, to NATAS.

The agreement seeks to end all litigation and arbitration, such as that involved with NATAS’ stalled plans to stage Emmys for Spanish-language programming and to redefine revenue-sharing arrangements for ongoing ventures and new initiatives.

The “historic alliance” was announced Thursday by Dick Askin, chairman and CEO of ATAS, and Dennis Swanson, chairman and CEO of NATAS.

“This alliance represents a new beginning in the relationship between ATAS and NATAS and is an important first step in significantly improving our ability to work effectively together in the future,” Mr. Askin said. “This agreement will allow us to extend the ATAS brand o
n a global basis, end existing arbitration and open the door to greater revenue opportunities.”

Added Mr. Swanson: “NATAS trustees will come together in early June for our annual meeting, to take place this year in Los Angeles. During this time we look forward to representatives from IATAS and ATAS joining us in an historic occasion to celebrate and further discuss the opportunities this agreement has created.”

Scripps Reports Q4, Full-Year Profit Surge: Broadcast and cable company E.W. Scripps said today its fourth-quarter and full-year profits surged thanks to strong results at the company’s cable interests, particularly Scripps’ Home & Garden Television and Food Network properties.

The Cincinnati-based company, which owns 10 broadcast stations in addition to cable channels DIY-Do It Yourself and Fine Living, reported that its profit soared 34 percent to $101.5 million for the quarter, and 44 percent to $270.8 million for the year. Revenue for the quarter soared 13 percent to $514.3 million, while full-year revenue surged 22 percent to $1.9 billion.

Scripps officials said the results were directly related to strong performances by the company’s Scripps Networks unit, which includes the cable properties, and by the company’s Shop at Home channel.

Scripps Networks reported a 59 percent jump in profits to $66.4 million for the year, while revenue jumped 31 percent to $128 million. Much of the growth was driven by strong results at HGTV and Food Network, both of which recorded profit and revenue gains. Meanwhile, DIY and Fine Living continued to extend their reach, the company said.

The Shop at Home channel, of which Scripps is in the midst of taking full ownership from Summit America Television, continued to make gains as well, recording a 16 percent pro forma increase in revenues to $65.1 million for the year.

The company’s broadcast stations, meanwhile, saw their profits fall 28 percent to $26.4 million for the year on a 9 percent decline in revenue, fueled largely by a sharp decline in political advertising spending.

Adelphia to Carry TV One: Adelphia Communications said it began carrying TV One, the new channel targeting African American adults, on its expanded basic tier on its Cleveland systems, making the network available to more than 250,000 subscribers.

Picabo Street to Host Outdoor Life Show: Two-time Olympics medallist Picabo Street joined Outdoor Life Network as host of “Picabo’s SnowZone.” The program airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. through March 25 and highlights the latest action in winter sports.

Actor Ray Rayner Dead at 84: Ray Rayner, the actor who played Oliver O. Oliver on “Bozo’s Circus” for a decade and who hosted his own kids show, “Ray Rayner and His Friends,” for 19 years on WGN-TV, Chicago, died Jan. 21 following complications from pneumonia. He was 84 years old. Mr. Rayner retired from WGN-TV in December 1980.

Senate Locks In 39 Percent Ownership Cap: The U.S. Senate approved a massive appropriations bill Thursday that includes a provision locking in national media ownership at 39 percent. The measure, which passed on a 65-28 vote, will become law with the signature of President Bush, which is expected shortly.

The Senate cleared the way for the legislation’s adoption with a 61-32 vote earlier in the day that shut off the debate on the appropriations bill, getting one vote more than the required 60-vote majority.

In a largely partisan vote earlier this week, a similar motion to shut down the debate failed on a 48-45 vote with 48 votes for shutting it down. Sources said the failure of that effort, which was blocked mainly by Democrats, was intended to embarrass President Bush on the eve of his State of the Union speech.

The 39 percent cap was negotiated in a compromise between the White House and Senate GOP leaders. Its adoption at least offers an opportunity for reconciliation between the major TV networks and their affiliates, which have been battling over the cap for the past couple of years.

To the applause of the networks, the Federal Communications Commission’s Republican majority voted to raise the cap to 45 percent last June. But the affiliates and the National Association of Broadcasters launched an all-out lobbying effort to roll the cap back to 35 percent in an effort to curb the networks’ power.

‘Idol’ Again Draws Big Audience for Fox: “American Idol” is unstoppable this week, with last night’s episode drawing more total viewers than each of the first two episodes and leading Fox to its third nightly victory in a row in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers. “Idol” garnered 29.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data, just beating Monday’s premiere episode, which drew 29 million.

“Idol” won its time slot in adults 18 to 49 with a 12.7/32 and took some thunder out of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” “The Apprentice” in its first showing in its regular Wednesday, 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. time slot, saw its adult 18 to 49 ratings cut in half from its Thursday airings. It scored a 4.9/12. “Apprentice” had 12.3 million viewers.

“Idol” also boosted Fox’s “The O.C.” at 9 p.m. The drama scored above-average numbers with a first place 5.7/14 in adults 18 to 49, which was good enough to beat ABC’s “The Bachelorette” (5.2/12). “The O.C.” also recorded a rare total viewers victory with 12.9 million, beating “Bachelorette’s” second place 11.6 million viewers.

Also of note, a rerun of UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model” at 9 p.m. equaled the 18 to 49 ratings of an original “Angel” on The WB. Both scored a 1.7/4. “Model” (4 million) beat “Angel” (3.5 million) in total viewers.

For the night, Fox won in adults 18 to 49 with a 9.2/22, followed by NBC (4.3/11), ABC (3.9/10), CBS (2.5/6), The WB (1.9/5) and UPN (1.5/4). In total viewers, Fox won with 21.1 million, followed by NBC (11.6 million), CBS (9.7 million), ABC (9.1 million), The WB (4.3 million) and UPN (3.6 million).

ABC Orders More ‘Life of Luxury’: ABC ordered four more “Life of Luxury” specials. “Life of Luxury,” hosted by Robin Leach, shows viewers the world of the super-rich. Two of the specials are slated to air this spring, with the other two set for fall. ABC is also searching for a co-host to work with Mr. Leach. “Luxury” is produced by Andy Friendly Productions. Andy Friendly executive produces the show.