News Briefs

Feb 23, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NBC knocked out the competition to buy the rights to “The Contender,” the latest project from reality guru Mark Burnett. “The Contender” will follow a nationwide search for the next real-life Rocky. Mr. Burnett, DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg and actor Sylvester Stallone, who played the title role in numerous “Rocky” feature films, will executive produce the show. The three principals also plan to launch their own boxing federation.
Museum of Television & Radio Chooses Brotman
Stuart Brotman, a communications consultant and academic, has been named president of the Museum of Television & Radio after what board Chairman Frank Bennack Jr. described as a “very exhaustive and thorough search” for the successor to Robert Batscha, who died in July 2003 after 22 years at the helm of the museum. Mr. Brotman will take his new position March 1.
Disney Acquires `Muppets’ Assets
The Walt Disney Co. has acquired the “Muppets” and “Bear in the Big Blue House” properties from The Jim Henson Co. The value of the deal is about $60 million plus profit sharing from future revenues, according to published reports. The deal will include all Muppets assets, including the characters Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Animal; the Muppet film and television library; and all associated copyrights and trademarks, as well as all the “Bear in the Big Blue House” characters, television library, copyrights and trademarks. The two companies announced last week they have signed a binding purchase agreement and expect the transaction to close within two months. The deal does not include the “Sesame Street” characters, such as Big Bird and Elmo, which are owned by Sesame Workshop. The deal also includes non-exclusive production and consulting agreements under which Henson will develop potential new programming featuring the Muppets and “Bear in the Big Blue House” for Disney.
Academy Fine-Tunes Reality Emmy Rules
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has changed the rules for awarding Emmys to reality television programs and has made several other changes in the nomination procedures for prime-time programs. Reality and competition programming will now fall under the competition category of Outstanding Reality/Competition Program, which will have only one winner. Previously, reality programming fell under a Special Class programming category, which meant that one, more than one or no program could win the award. That arrangement led to reality shows such as “Survivor” being lumped into the same category as shows such as the Bob Hope specials. The Outstanding Reality/Competition Program category will include all game shows and any program that awards a prize or is a contest or competition. Another procedural change is allowing the 12,000 academy members who nominate shows cast up to 10 votes per category, instead of the current five-vote maximum. The top five vote-getters in each category will be nominated. The academy also increased to six from three the minimum number of episodes required for consideration to be nominated in the comedy and drama series categories. Once nominations are revealed, the number of episodes submitted for the final round of judging to determine the winners is now six episodes, instead of the eight episodes previously required.
Linkletter to Receive Christopher Award
Art Linkletter, who became “America’s grandfather” through his 19 years of hosting “People Are Funny” and his 26 years with “House Party,” will receive the Christopher Life Achievement Award at the 55th annual Christopher Awards program Thursday, Feb. 26, at New York’s Time-Life Building. The Christopher Awards recognize those who use their talents to raise the standards of public life.