Paul Buccieri has been named to the newly created position of president of programming of Twentieth Television, effective Jan. 17. Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television, made the announcement last Friday. Mr. Buccieri will be responsible for overseeing first-run program development and production. Mr. Buccieri, who will report to Mr. Cook, will be based in Los Angeles. Robb Dalton, the company’s president of programming and production, will now report to Mr. Buccieri. Most recently, Mr. Buccieri has been in an overall production deal with Endemol USA in Los Angeles, where he is serving as executive producer of NBC’s upcoming reality series “I Want to Be a Hilton.” Before working with Endemol USA, Mr. Buccieri was senior VP of program development at Chris-Craft/United Television, also in Los Angeles.
Sloan Steps Down at CBS
Chris Sloan, VP of alternative programming at CBS, is stepping down from his position at the network, sources said last week. Mr. Sloan will stay at the network as a producer, working on CBS reality product. He joined CBS in September 2004, replacing Ghen Maynard, who left CBS for NBC. Previously Mr. Sloan was VP of production at The Learning Channel, and before that he was senior VP of reality programming and specials for USA Network. CBS declined comment.
FCC Launches Williams Probe
Under mounting pressure to act, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell on Friday announced the launch of an investigation into whether conservative TV commentator Armstrong Williams violated the law by failing to disclose that he had been paid by the U.S. Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on-air.
Democratic Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps publicly demanded an investigation earlier in the week to determine whether Mr. Williams’ promotion of the pet project for the Bush administration ran afoul of payola law, which prohibits broadcasters from airing sponsored programming without disclosing the sponsorship.
After word surfaced that Mr. Williams had received $241,000 from the Bush administration to promote the act, the arrangement was widely condemned in Congress and in the media.
“We need to get to the bottom of these very serious allegations,” said Mr. Adelstein, who added that violations of the payola statute are punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.
“People are concerned when their media are abused and misused,” added Mr. Copps, who said the FCC had received thousands of complaints about the issue.
Credited for generating many of the complaints is the watchdog Free Press, a group that has posted an electronic complaint form on its Web site at www.freepress.net. Free Press said the Bush administration’s contract with Mr. Williams was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum Public Relations that included advertisements and commentaries promoting the No Child Left Behind law on Mr. Williams’ syndicated show “The Right Side.”
SAG, AMPTP Suspend Contract Talks
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers suspended negotiations last week on their new three-year television and theatrical contract. The parties had been in talks since Dec. 6. SAG and AMPTP released a brief joint statement: “The parties have concluded they cannot reach an agreement at this time. There are no scheduled dates for the resumption of talks.” The current contract expires in June. The issue of DVD residuals is reportedly a key sticking point.
ABC, Hallmark Developing `Ten Commandments’
ABC and Hallmark Entertainment last week announced plans to develop “The Ten Commandments,” a four-hour miniseries. The two-part epic, which will present the biblical story of the exodus, will be executive produced by Robert Halmi Sr. Robert Dornhelm is directing, Ron Hutchinson is writing and Howard Ellis is producing. Quinn Taylor, ABC’s senior VP of motion pictures for television and miniseries, will oversee the project.