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Mar 18, 2004  •  Post A Comment

MTV, Telepictures Sued Over Osbournes Shows

The “Osbournes'” designer says it wasn’t paid for all of its work.

California design company Bountiful Inc. filed a lawsuit Thursday against MTV Networks Enterprises and Telepictures Productions claiming breach of contract and negligence, among other complaints. In the suit filed with the Superior Court of California in the County of Los Angeles, Bountiful claims it was not appropriately compensated for its work on MTV’s “The Osbournes” and Telepictures’ “The Sharon Osbourne Show.”

Bountiful asserts that it was not paid in full for selling decorative furniture and other accessories, as well as for providing design consultation, on the two shows.

“We are still determining the amount of the damages but it would be in the hundreds of thousands,” said Arthur Barens, attorney for the plaintiff.

The lawsuit claims that MTV, Telepictures and other defendants failed to pay Bountiful more than $356,000 for design work on “The Osbournes,” and almost $315,000 for design work on “The Sharon Osbourne Show.”

“I think those numbers are indicative and I believe accurate as to the amounts outstanding,” said Mr. Barens.

An MTV spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.

FCC Rules Bono Incident in Violation: The Federal Communications Commission announced late Thursday that it had decided that rock star Bono’s use of the F-word on NBC’s live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards last year ran afoul of agency regulations barring broadcast indecency and profanity.

In a controversial ruling last year, the agency staff held that Bono’s use of the phrase “f***ing brilliant” did not violate agency indecency prohibitions because it was used adjectivally without reference to sexual activity. In overruling the agency staff, the FCC’s commissioners warned that “similar broadcasts in the future will lead to forfeitures and potential license revocation, if appropriate.”

Also late Thursday, the FCC announced that it had fined Infinity Broadcasting $27,500 for an indecent broadcast on shock jock Howard Stern’s show. In addition, the agency announced a $55,000 fine for off-color programming by a pair of Florida radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Holland Resigns WGA Post: Charles Holland has resigned as president of the Writers Guild of America West on the eve of contract negotiations between writers and producers, the Writers Guild announced today.

Mr. Holland had assumed the presidency in January when the guild’s previous leader, Victoria Riskin, stepped down after an eligibility controversy. Daniel Petrie Jr., who was appointed to fill Mr. Holland’s vacated vice presidential post at that time, now succeeds to the presidency, in accordance with the guild’s constitution.

Since becoming president, Mr. Holland had been dogged by charges that he grossly exaggerated the extent of his military background and lied about playing college football. Those charges, which first surfaced publicly in the Los Angeles Times, spurred angry WGA members to circulate petitions calling for Mr. Holland to be forced from office. But petitioners failed to tally the 300 signatures required by guild rules to force a recall.

In voluntarily stepping aside, Mr. Holland released a statement saying in part, “I am now persuaded that the personal aspersions cast upon me will continue and that they will distract our Guild’s focus, hindering our negotiating position. That I cannot allow.”

Mr. Petrie, who previously served as WGA president from 1997-1999, takes over immediately. “I hope that we can now put all the extraneous issues behind us and focus on the important job of securing the best possible agreement for the writers we represent,” Mr. Petrie said in a statement released by the guild.

Fox Moves ‘Bernie’ Again: “The Bernie Mac Show” is moving to a new night and time slot as Fox shakes up its Sunday night schedule. “Mac” moves from Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. to Monday nights at 8 p.m., leading into new sitcom “Cracking Up.” “Bernie’s” first Monday airing will be March 22. As for Fox’s Sunday schedule, “Oliver Beene” was yanked in favor of back-to-back “King of the Hill” episodes (one original and one rerun) from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. “The Simpsons” stays at 8 p.m. with a rerun airing at 8:30 p.m. The 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour of “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Arrested Development” stays the same.

‘Swan’ Gets New Premiere Date: Fox has changed the premiere date for its newest reality show, “The Swan,” to Wednesday, April 7, at 9 p.m. The move was made to give the show an “American Idol” lead-in. The show then moves to its regular Monday 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. time period April 12. That will bump reality soap “Forever Eden” to Thursdays at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. starting March 25.

‘Restaurant’ Reopens April 19: NBC is bringing “The Restaurant” back Monday, April 19, in the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. time slot after “Average Joe: Adam Returns” finishes its run. NBC has had much success with the reality franchise “Average Joe” in that time slot. The six-episode second season of “Restaurant” picks up six months after the first season ended, in which cameras chronicled chef Rocco DiSpirito’s struggles to open a new restaurant “Rocco’s on 22nd.” The new season will include the real-life conflict between Mr. DiSpirito and his major financier, who has accused Mr. DiSpirito of financial mismanagement.

‘Stones’ Falls Flat for CBS: CBS’s midseason sitcom “The Stones” debuted last night to fourth-place time slot finish in adults 18 to 49 with a 2.7 Nielsen Media Research rating and 7 share and total viewers with 7.1 million. Its 18 to 49 numbers were 13 percent lower than what previous time slot occupant “Becker” (3.1/8) had been drawing, and it held on to only 67 percent of the audience from its lead-in “King of Queens” (4.0/10).

“Survivor: All-Stars” saw its worst numbers of the season with its temporary NCAA-induced move to Wednesday night at 8 p.m. However, it still managed to win the 8 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (7.1/20) against Fox’s “That ’70s Show” and the first half of “American Idol.” “Survivor” pulled 19 million total viewers.

Fox’s “Arrested Development” got a special airing following “Idol” at 9:30 p.m. and saw its highest numbers to date with a 4.2/11 in adults 18 to 49 and 9.6 million total viewers.

The second episode of “Game Over” was more bad news for UPN. It actually dropped a tenth of a ratings point in adults 18 to 49 week-to-week to an anemic 0.5/2 and drew only 1.7 million total viewers. ABC’s “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” at 10 p.m. continued to drop in its third week, pulling a 3.0/9 in adults 18 to 49, down 19 percent from last week.

For the night, Fox won adults 18 to 49 with a 7.1/19, followed by CBS (4.2/12), NBC (3.6/10), ABC (3.4/9), The WB (1.0/3) and UPN (0.7/2). In total viewers, Fox won the night with 16.4 million, followed by CBS (11.7 million), NBC (10.1 million), ABC (8.4 million), The WB (2.6 million) and UPN (2 million).

Showtime Tops Vision Awards Nominations: Showtime Networks has received eight nominations for the 10th annual Vision Awards being held April 16 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Showtime received the most nominations among the cable networks.

Presented by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, the Vision Awards honor cable television and its commitment to producing multi-ethnic and cross-cultural programming.

HBO and Disney Channel each received six nominations. BET, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Video Rola, Zee TV and ESPN also received multiple nominations.

Nominations in the performance categories include Antonio Banderas (HBO’s “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself”), Ossie Davis and Forest Whitaker (Showtime’s “Deacons for Defense”), Blair Underwood (HBO’s “Sex and the City”) and Dave Chappelle (Comedy Central’s “The Dave Chappelle Show”).

Special honors for the evening will include the North Star, Quasar and Legacy awards. Disney Channel will receive the North Star Award, which recognizes an individual or an organization that has demonstrated a commitment to programming that reflects ethnic and cultural di
versity. The Quasar Award goes to an individual in the telecommunications industry who has worked to advance diversity and is being presented to California Cable & Telecommunications Association President Spencer Kaitz. Suzanne de Passe, chairwoman and CEO of de Passe Entertainment will receive the Legacy Award, which honors a trailblazing individual or body of work that has impacted the landscape of diversity.

Filmmaker Robert Townsend will host the awards ceremony.

NAMIC was founded in 1980 and has initiated programs aimed at achieving diversity in leadership, employment, procurement, programming and ownership.

Cosgrove Leaves ABC Family Channel: Another senior manager left ABC Family Channel as senior VP-channel operations and strategy Tom Cosgrove departed to pursue other opportunities. Since Anne Sweeney’s ABC Cable Networks Group took over the channel, president Angela Shapiro and a handful of other managers have departed in what has been described by insiders as a housecleaning.

While the network seeks a new president to form a new management team, Mr. Cosgrove’s responsibilities will be handled partly by Tom Zappala, VP, scheduling and acquisitions, and partly by other ABC CNG staffers.

Utah Companies Settle With FTC: Several Utah companies agreed today to pay $40,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived 25,000 consumers who were trying to vote for their favorite performers on “American Idol” during the 2002-2003 season. According to the FTC, the companies took advantage of viewers by acquiring phone numbers similar to the toll-free number for the show. When viewers misdialed, they were routed to the companies’ own toll-free lines. They were then informed that they had to call a 900 number to place their vote, for a fee ranging from $1.99 to $2.97 per call.

Viewers who actually called the 900 numbers were then simply referred to the real toll-free number for the show. “These defendants tried to mislead fans of ‘American Idol’ but found they got harsh reviews from the FTC,” said Howard Beales, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The defendant companies, according to the FTC, are Telemarketing Inc., Apex Investments and Universal Innovations.

Janet Jackson to Appear on ‘Letterman’: Janet Jackson is scheduled to give her first network TV interview since baring her breast during the CBS broadcast of the Super Bowl on “Late Show With David Letterman” Monday, March 29.

“Late Show” seems to be the new late-night TV home for girls gone wild. Troubled rocker-actress and bad girl Courtney Love put on a frenetic and flailing display during her visit to “Late Show” Wednesday, when she flashed her breasts at Mr. Letterman repeatedly.

Meanwhile, ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week claimed the distinction of landing Ms. Jackson’s “first television performance” since the halftime show that opened up a new front in the culture wars. “GMA” will broadcast a five-second-delayed performance on the ABC morning show Wednesday, March 31.

Ms. Jackson’s album “Damita Jo” is being released in the United States that week.

Gray to Acquire License for Virginia Channel: Gray Television has agreed to acquire the Federal Communications Commission license for Channel 19 in Charlottesville, Va., from Charlottesville Broadcasting Corp. Gray announced it intends to build facilities for a TV station that would begin broadcasting in August and that has a 10-year affiliation agreement with CBS. It will be the 16th CBS affiliate and the 30th TV station owned by Gray.

The only full-power local TV station now serving the college town, which ranks as the 186th-largest market in the country, is Waterman Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate WVIR-TV.

Gray Regional VP Tracey Jones, who also is general manager of Gray-owned ABC affiliate WHSV-TV in neighboring Harrisburg, Va., will oversee the new CBS station.

Stewart Renews With ‘Daily Show’: Jon Stewart has agreed to stay on as host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” through the 2008 presidential election campaign. Mr. Stewart’s contract was set to expire at the end of this year. He is also executive producer and a writer on the show. “A lot of people like to get out when their show’s still going well,” Mr. Stewart said in a statement. “This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground.”

Sinise Takes ‘New York’: Gary Sinise has signed to star in CBS’s “CSI: New York.” He will portray Det. Rick Calucci, who leads a team of forensic experts in New York. The third “CSI” will be spun off from an episode of “CSI: Miami” later this year. Mr. Sinise joins Carmine Giovinazzo and Vanessa Ferlito in the cast.