Breaking News Archives

Feb 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Injured Snowboarder to Return to ‘Letterman’

Gold Medal snowboarder Tara Dakides, who was hospitalized after she wiped out while taping a stunt for Thursday night’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” is scheduled to appear Monday, Feb. 9, on the CBS late-night show.

The host, his studio audience and a crowd gathered on the street were watching when the helmet-less Ms. Dakides, who had executed a successful practice run on a two-story ramp on the street outside “Late Show’s” Ed Sullivan Theater, slid off the ramp and hit the pavement, gashing the back of her head.Mr. Letterman canceled the scheduled tapings of Thursday and Friday night’s shows and went to check on his guest, whose head was stitched up at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, where she was held overnight for observation.

Mr. Letterman told his studio audience Friday afternoon during a rescheduled taping of Friday night’s show, “She’s fine and she’s going to go back to her career, and so what looked like just a horrific, miserable tragedy yesterday in fact has a happy ending. And Monday, the young woman, Tara Dakides, will be here and we’ll talk with her Monday about the ordeal.”

In his monologue, he said: “I was thinking about it last night: As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been a jump that ill-advised since I moved from NBC to CBS.”

Word Named Pax Development Senior VP: Pax Communications Corp. announced today that Rob Word has been appointed senior VP of program development and production for Pax TV. Mr. Word will be based in Los Angeles and will manage the development of original programming.

President of the Pax Television Network, Bill Scott, made the announcement, saying, “Rob is our ideal choice to oversee the new program development just as Pax is staging an aggressive rollout of original programs for 2004. He has distinguished himself as a respected entertainment executive who has successfully developed highly rated quality programming. His experience, energy and fresh perspective will be great assets to Pax.”

Mr. Word comes to Pax with a long list of producing, writing, programming and packaging credits, most recently from Lions Gate Films. He has held senior management positions in marketing and production with Orion, ITC, Quintex, Hal Roach Studios, Filmways and CST Entertainment. He has also served as senior producer and programming consultant for Columbia, Tristar, MGM-UA and Encore Media.

“This is an exciting time to join Pax,” Mr. Word said. “We have a number of programs in various stages of production and development and are moving ahead rapidly to provide a variety of terrific original entertainment programming for the entire family.”

His television production credits include CBS’s “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” the Family Channel action series “T and T” and the Emmy-nominated two-hour special, “An Ozzie and Harriet Christmas.” He also created and executive produced “Totally Tooned In,” an animated series for Columbia TriStar International Television.

Mr. Word began his television career working as a programmer in the local Florida television market.

Pegasus Shares Tumble 30 Percent Following DirecTV Announcement: Satellite operator Pegasus Communications saw its stock price plunge Friday as Wall Street responded to an announcement one day earlier that DirecTV was pulling the plug on mediation talks that sought to iron out a contract dispute between the two satellite companies.

Pegasus shares sank 32 percent Friday to $28.30 a share in heavy trading after falling as much as 37 percent earlier in the day. Shares in the Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based reseller of DirecTV services to rural customers closed Thursday at $41.65 a share.

The stock’s pounding came as Pegasus attempted to control the damage, issuing a statement telling its side of what happened. In the statement, Pegasus CEO Marshall Pagon said his Thursday meeting with Chase Carey, CEO and president of DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics was largely focused on the respective businesses of Pegasus and DirecTV, and that both men agreed the discussions would not touch on the company’s yearlong mediation talks. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes, Mr. Pagon said.

Three hours later, Mr. Pagon said, he received a call on his cellphone from Mr. Carey, who said he planned to issue a press release announcing that DirecTV was terminating the mediation talks.

The announcement also contained comments from Mr. Carey about his view of Pegasus’ business prospects. “With every day that passes, both Pegasus’ significance to DirecTV and its value as a standalone enterprise diminish,” Mr. Carey said in the Thursday announcement.

Mr. Pagon challenged those comments and accused DirecTV of “seeking to intentionally damage the value of our equity and debt securities and thereby interfere with the successful completion of our recently announced financing.”

At issue is the termination date of a agreement with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, of which Pegasus is the largest member, to resell DirecTV services to rural customers in the United States.

NRTC had sued DirecTV, claiming the satellite operator was circumventing the cooperative and selling satellite services directly to rural customers. Both sides reached a settlement in August, with all of the members except Pegasus agreeing to continue selling DirecTV services until 2011.

With the talks ended, Hughes said Pegasus is left with the choice of either ending its right to sell DirecTV services in June 2008 or signing on to the NRTC agreement and selling the services until 2011. Hughes said Pegasus has until March 8 to decide, after which the June 2008 termination date kicks in.

Super Bowl Halftime Sparks Thousands of Complaints to FCC: The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday afternoon that it has received more than 200,000 complaints about Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl display-too many for the agency to acknowledge individually. So instead the FCC put out a public notice reaffirming that it has already launched an investigation into the alleged indecencies and will post the results on its Web site, www.fcc.gov.

NBC Kicks Off Sweeps With Demo Win; CBS Takes Total Viewers: On the first night of February sweeps, NBC won the night in adults 18 to 49 by a 17 percent margin while CBS won total viewers by nearly 3 million viewers.

From 8 p.m. to 8:44 p.m., a supersize “Friends” scored a first-place 11.1/29 in adults 18 to 49 and 24.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. “Survivor: All-Stars” finished second with an 8.9/22 in adults 18 to 49 and 23.1 million viewers. “Survivor” dropped 40 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 31 percent in total viewers from its post-Super Bowl debut, but still pulled some of the best numbers in total viewers and adults 18 to 49 for a “Survivor” episode this season.

NBC saw dramatic improvement in its 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. hour with “The Apprentice” (which actually started at 8:44, immediately following “Friends”). In the 9 p.m. hour, “Apprentice” scored a 9.3/22 in adults 18 to 49, up 43 percent over NBC’s season-to-date average in the time period. However, that wasn’t good enough to beat CBS’s juggernaut “CSI,” which won the time slot with a 10.7/25 — its best 18 to 49 numbers so far this season. “CSI” won the total viewers race by almost 11 million viewers with 29.6 million viewers to “Apprentice’s” 18.6 million.

At 10 p.m., NBC’s “ER” easily beat CBS’s “Without a Trace” in adults 18 to 49 (10.5/26 vs. 6.4/16) but the race was closer in total viewers with “ER” scoring a first-place 22.3 million to “Trace’s” 19.4 million. “Trace” tied its best-ever 18 to 49 numbers and pulled its best total viewer numbers ever.

ABC’s two hours of “Extreme Makeover” didn’t make much of a dent, with the 8 p.m. hour scoring a 1.9/5 in adults 18 to 49 and 6.7 million total viewers and the 9 p.m. hour pulling a 3.4/8 and 9.1 million viewers.

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 10.2/25, followed by CBS (8.7/21), ABC (2.8/7), Fox (2.0/5), UPN (1.7/4) and The WB (0.9/2). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 24 million, followed by NBC (21.3 million), ABC
(8.2 million), Fox (5.1 million), UPN (4.7 million) and The WB (2.3 million).

Belo Reports Decline in Q4 Profits: Newspaper and station group owner Belo reported a 7 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit to $42.4 million, or 37 cents a share, vs. a year-ago profit of $48.5 million, or 41 cents a share, with a steep drop in political advertising revenue contributing to the profit results. Revenue for the Dallas-based company slipped nearly 2 percent to $387.8 million.

For the year, Belo’s profit fell 2 percent to $128.5 million, while revenue was down nearly 1 percent to $1.4 billion.

Belo said its 19 television stations posted an 8 percent decline in fourth-quarter revenue to $172.5 million, the result of a 9 percent drop in spot advertising. The company attributed the drop in spot to weakness in political advertising spending, which tumbled 83 percent to $4.8 million in the fourth quarter.

For the year, the TV group’s revenues slipped 2 percent on a 2 percent drop in spot advertising. In 2003 Belo stations took in $10.3 million in political advertising, compared with $48.7 million in 2002.

Turner to Air Atlanta Braves Game: Turner Broadcasting will air 128 Atlanta Braves baseball season this year, down three from last season. TBS Superstation will carry 82 games and Turner South will have 46. TBS has been airing Braves games for 32 consecutive years. This is Turner South’s fifth season with the Braves.

Wynter to Guest Star in ‘Dead Zone’: Sarah Wynter, best known for her role in “24” last season, will sign to guest star in a six-episode arc of USA Network’s hit “The Dead Zone.” The third season of “The Dead Zone” will premiere in June. Shooting began this week.