News Briefs

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Charles Holland resigned as president of the Writers Guild of America West on the eve of contract negotiations between writers and producers, the Writers Guild announced last week. Mr. Holland 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 VP post at that time, now succeeds immediately 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. Mr. Holland voluntarily stepped aside and 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 previously served as WGA president from 1997-99.
Herzog Returning to Comedy Central
Doug Herzog’s return to Comedy Central was officially announced last week by MTV Networks. Mr. Herzog, now president of USA Network, will rejoin the comedy channel in early May, replacing President Larry Divney, who announced his retirement in January. As expected, Mr. Herzog will be based in the network’s Los Angeles office. Mr. Herzog left Comedy Central in November 1998 to become president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting. He was named president of USA in March 2001.
Cosgrove Leaves ABC Family Channel
Another senior manager has left ABC Family Channel. Tom Cosgrove, senior VP, channel operations and strategy, 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 by Tom Zappala, VP, scheduling and acquisitions, and by other ABC CNG staffers.
Showtime Tops Vision Award Nominations
Showtime Networks has received eight nominations for the 10th annual Vision Awards, slated for April 16 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Showtime received the most nominations among the cable networks. Presented by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, the Vision Awards honor cable TV’s 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 “Chappelle’s Show”).
Ad Industry Pushes to Block Anti-Violence Bills
A coalition of advertising industry groups last week urged federal lawmakers to oppose legislation aimed at restricting violence in TV programming. The measure at issue, included in Senate legislation to crack down on broadcast indecency, paves the way for a federal ban on violent programming on broadcast, cable or satellite television when children are likely to be in the audience. In a March 17 letter to all U.S. senators, the groups-the Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies and American Advertising Federation-said the prohibition raises serious First Amendment concerns. “We cannot allow the government to decide what Americans can see in their homes and when they can see it,” the letter stated.