• NBC's Zucker: Scripted Shows Aren't Dead, Just Costly
    In the wake of NBC Universal's sweeping staff and budget cuts, the Post's Frank Ahrens interviewed Jeff Zucker, who has headed NBC's prime-time schedule since 2000 and has brought news, sports and cable under his wing. Describing him as "by turns curt and voluble," Ahrens also said he was forthright about his network's problems (third place in the ratings) and pragmatic about the cost of the digital future. While it was widely reported last week that Zucker declared scripted programming "dead," he denies that's what he meant. "I don't think I ever said scripted programming is dead. That's a ...
  • Fox Stations To Get 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'
    NBC Universal has sold off-network episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" to some Fox-owned stations as a Monday-Friday strip for next fall. The barter deal for the crime drama--now in is sixth season--is the first time in years that a major off-net hour has been offered to stations for weekday runs. NBC is also shopping the show to other station groups, but Fox has it for its New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major market outlets under a multi-year agreement. In the late 1980s and early '90s, shows like "Magnum, PI" and "Quincy" were staples of ...
  • New Ad Attack In Stem Cell Debate
    Just days after actor Michael J. Fox appeared in a TV ad urging Missouri voters to support stem cell research, opponents of the potentially life-saving process have rolled out their own commercial. St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitcher Jeff Suppan is among several celebrities who appear in the minute-long ad. Others include Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ." In the ad, Suppan says that a ballot measure "makes cloning a constitutional right. Don't be deceived." The amendment would provide constitutional protections for embryonic stem cell research in the Show-Me ...
  • Jane Pauley Sues New York Times
    Jane Pauley, the former host of NBC's "Today Show" and "Dateline," has slapped The New York Times with a lawsuit, claiming the newspaper duped her into giving an interview for a story that was actually an advertising supplement for a drug company. The suit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, says Pauley believed she was giving an interview about mental health issues for a story in the newspaper, but her words and a photograph ran in a "special advertising supplement" that promoted psychoactive drugs from Eli Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies. Catherine Mathis, a spokesperson for the newspaper, says ...
  • Disney Uses Gibson To Promote Movie
    At a time when many in Hollywood have been publicly distancing themselves from Mel Gibson, Disney's film marketers are embracing the controversial filmmaker as a way to hype the upcoming release of his latest project, "Apocalypto." Despite Gibson's anti-Semitic rant during a drunken-driving arrest this summer, Disney executives are closely associating the movie promotion with the Academy Award-winning actor/writer/director. Gibson has done some of the requisite mea culpas, most recently in an interview with Diane Sawyer on Disney-owned ABC. "It's critical that he be the voice and face of this film," says Jim Gallagher, president of Buena Vista Pictures ...
  • Citgo Launches Media Campaign
    Citgo Oil's new ad campaign is aimed at branding the oil company as a strong and charitable American business. Breaking this week with a 30-second broadcast spot and a print ad, the new creative comes after full-page "public statement" ads that ran last week in several daily newspapers. The new ads promote the Venezuelan-owned firm's community involvement, heritage and corporate largesse. It took something of a PR hit among some Americans last month after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush an imperialist devil who sought to oppress the world's poor. "What we are doing comes from ...
  • GOP Pulls Racist Spot In Tennessee
    A furor over a Republican-financed television commercial in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Tennessee has led to the ad being pulled. Financed by the Republican National Committee, the spot--widely decried as racist--was aimed at Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a black Democrat whose campaign has kept Republicans on the defensive. It first aired last week, and featured a series of people in mock man-on-the-street interviews talking sarcastically about Ford and his stands on issues. But the real problem was one of the people featured: a blonde white woman who says she met Ford at a "Playboy party," ...
  • Brits Overhaul TV Sponsorship Rules
    Advertisers can now sponsor entire British television and radio channels as 50 years of tight regulations have been swept away. Under the new rules, channels such as ITV1, Bravo or Capital Radio could, in theory, be sponsored by brands such as Coca-Cola or Sony. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom says the move is designed to open more revenue possibilities in a world where "on demand" TV and radio means the value of traditional advertising breaks is being undermined. However, the new rules do have some provisos, including one that a channel cannot rename itself after a commercial product. So while ...
  • Record Political Ad Spending In 2006
    Candidates and their political allies will spend a record $2.6 billion on campaigns for the midterm election that will determine control of Congress, according to a watchdog group. That comes to an average of $59 per vote in Senate races and $35 per vote for House contests, says the Center for Responsive Politics. And with control of the legislative branch on the line Nov. 7, it is no surprise that candidates and outside groups are expected to raise and spend more money than ever before, says Sheila Krumholz, the nonprofit group's acting executive director. "The money in this campaign ...
  • Is There A Link Between Cable TV And Autism?
    Over the past three decades, the number of children diagnosed with autism has grown from 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 166, and some researchers think that may be partly tied to the rise of cable TV. Authors Michael Waldman and Sean Nicholson found that a rise in autism incidence in certain counties in Oregon, California, Washington and Pennsylvania starting in 1980, and it mirrored a rise in cable television subscriptions. Waldman, a professor at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, says he got the idea from news reports on rising rates. "I like working on puzzles. It ...
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