News Briefs: Stewart Previews ‘Apprentice’ for Press

Aug 29, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Annie Lennox’s “Sweet Dreams” will be the theme song for “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” Ms. Stewart revealed last week during a press conference she and the show’s executive producer Mark Burnett held in Manhattan. The pair, who also are collaborating on upcoming daytime show “Martha,” said Ms. Stewart has come up with a “commonality” but no catchphrase with which to dismiss the fired contestants at the end of each show. Ms. Stewart’s daughter Alexis, a Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia consultant, and MSO Board Chairman Charles Koppelman will be advisers to Ms. Stewart on “Apprentice.”

Nielsen Reports Increase in U.S. TV Homes

The number of TV homes in the United States increased 0.5 percent in the past year to an estimated 110.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research, which announced its 2005-06 season estimates last week. The number of African American TV homes increased 0.8 percent to nearly 13.3 million, which represents 12.1 percent of the U.S. TV universe, Nielsen reported. The fastest-growing segments of the population are Hispanic and Asian.

Askin Re-Elected ATAS Chairman

Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment, was re-elected last week to a second term as chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Menounos Joins ‘Access Hollywood,’ ‘Today’

Entertainment reporter Maria Menounos is joining both NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood” and NBC News’ “Today” this fall, NBC Universal executives announced last week. Ms. Menounos, who most recently was a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” will serve as a special correspondent for “Access Hollywood” and be a West Coast contributor for “Today.”

WGA to Award Series Writers

The Writers Guild of America will add three television series categories to its annual Writers Guild Awards, the guild announced. Awards for outstanding achievement in writing for a dramatic series, a comedy series and new series will be presented at the Feb. 4 ceremony next year.

WGA Joins Reality Class-Action Lawsuit

The Writers Guild of America West said it has joined a class-action lawsuit on behalf of reality TV storytellers who are suing former employers for unpaid compensation. At a press conference in Los Angeles last week, the WGA-W announced it filed a suit charging Fox Broadcasting and production company Rocket Science Laboratories with violations of California’s labor laws governing payment of overtime, wages and meal periods. More than 30 reality crew members from Rocket Science shows such as “Joe Millionaire,” “Trading Spouses” and “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé” attended the press conference. Ten of the crew members are named as plaintiffs in the suit. Tony Segall, WGA-W legal counsel and attorney for the plaintiffs, said the group is seeking a “very, very substantial number” from the defendants, but the figure has not yet been totaled, since payroll records are still being collected. The plaintiffs and WGA-W allege reality show workers were told to falsify their timecards, denied meals and made to work up to 80 hours a week without being paid overtime. This is the second such lawsuit the WGA-W has backed in recent months. Fox and Rocket Science had no comment.

FX Renews ‘Rescue Me’ for Third Season

FX has ordered a third season of its firefighter drama “Rescue Me,” the network announced. The renewal of the Denis Leary-starring drama will include 13 new episodes for debut next year. Season to date the show has matched its first-season average of 2.7 million viewers and is down slightly among adults 18 to 49 (1.7 million), according to Nielsen Media Research.