BBC CHAIRMAN QUITS UNDER FIRE
Gavyn Davies, the chairman of the BBC has reportedly submitted his resignation (Wednesday) following the release of the findings of a formal investigation that condemned the public broadcasting corporation's handling of a controversial report by one of its journalists. (Britain's Guardian newspaper said that Davies had submitted his resignation to the BBC's board of governors at 5:00 p.m. GMT, but there was no immediate official confirmation.) The report by Andrew Gilligan had asserted that the Tony Blair government had demanded that an intelligence document be "sexed up" to make the case for war against Iraq. The 328-page statement of findings by Lord Hutton called the claim "unfounded" and charged that editorial oversight of Gilligan had been "defective."
ALL IS GOLDEN FOR NBC
The Golden Globe Awards proved to be especially golden for NBC, whose ratings shined last week thanks in large measure to the record 26.8 million viewers who turned into its coverage. Fox's American Idol nabbed even more, drawing between 28.6 million and 29.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen Research, but many of its other low-rated offerings offset the numbers for Idol and kept the network out of first place. For the week, NBC averaged an 8.2 rating and a 13 share. Fox followed with 7.5/12. CBS dropped to third place with a 7.3/12, while ABC trailed with a 4.9/8.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 16.9/25; 2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 16.2/24; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 16.2/25; 4. American Idol (Monday), Fox, 15.9/23; 5. Friends (8:00 p.m.), NBC, 13.4/21; 6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 13.2/20; 7. Friends (8:30 p.m.), NBC, 13.1/20; 8. Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Fox, 11.6/17; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 10.6/17; 10. Will & Grace, NBC, 10.4/16.
HERZOG TO RETURN TO COMEDY CENTRAL
USA Networks President Doug Herzog plans to return to his old job as head of Comedy Central channel following the completion of USA's takeover by NBC later this year. Today's (Wednesday) Daily Variety described Herzog's decision as "the biggest exec aftershock yet" of the pending merger. Herzog reportedly decided to step down after learning that he had been passed over for the top job at the NBC Universal cable unit. Herzog, a former MTV exec, headed the comedy channel in the late 1990s and was credited with drawing big audiences to it with such programs as South Park and The Daily Show. He became president of Fox TV Entertainment in 1998, only to leave the following year after reportedly clashing with Chairman Sandy Grushow.
CNN EMPLOYEES KILLED IN IRAQ
Two CNN pick-up news employees were killed Tuesday when they were ambushed as they were returning to Baghdad from an assignment in the southern city of Hillah, the cable news network reported today (Wednesday). the men were Duraid Isa Mohammed, a producer and translator, and Yasser Khatab, his driver. Scott McWhinnie, a cameraman riding in another vehicle was grazed in the head by a bullet but was not seriously injured. Correspondent Michael Holmes and producer Shirley Hung, who were traveling with McWhinnie were not injured. They were accompanied by a security adviser who returned fire. Holmes later reported that, if not for the security adviser, "everyone in our vehicle would have been killed. ... They were clearly trying to take us out."
ABC'S STOSSEL: THE MEDIA ARE DOMINATED BY LEFTISTS
John Stossel, who co-anchors 20/20 with Barbara Walters, has accused mainstream journalists, including those at ABC, his own network, of being leftists who view conservatives with hostility. Appearing at the libertarian Cato Institute to promote his new book, Give Me a Break, Stossel commented, "Where I live in Manhattan and where I work at ABC, people say conservative the way people say child molester." As reported by CNSNews.com, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center, Stossel told the group: "Leftist thinking is just the culture that I live in and the culture the reporters who populate the mainstream media live in." He accused the press of being "filled with hatred for capitalism" and said that in his own case, "Everything I do has to be read by two liberal ABC lawyers and at least two liberal ABC producers." Nevertheless, he added: "ABC, God bless them, they don't always agree with me ... but they let me do most of the things I want to do."
LEGENDARY TALK SHOW HOST JACK PAAR DEAD AT 85
Jack Paar, who is often credited with inventing the present-day late-night talk show when he took over as host of The Tonight Show in 1957, died in Greenwich, CT Tuesday at age 85. Critics often maintained that no talk-show host ever commanded the intelligence, sophistication and edge that Paar brought to an interview. He quit the show in 1962 and was succeeded by Johnny Carson.
FOR EISNER, REWARDS AND RAPS
Disney Chairman Michael Eisner on Tuesday found himself on the one hand being rewarded with a $6.25-million stock bonus for the recent turnaround in the company's performance and on the other hand being denounced by former Disney board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold for failing to "generate long-term growth and performance." A letter to shareholders from Disney and Gold urged them to vote no on the reelection of Eisner and three other directors at a board election on March 3. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gold conceded that the effort was largely symbolic since he and Disney had not put up an alternative slate of candidates. "We think we can send a message that shareholders are dissatisfied with both Michael's performance and the board's," Gold said. Eisner's stock bonus was disclosed in an SEC filing, which also revealed that the company is attempting to settle an SEC complaint that it had failed to disclose that relatives of several supposedly independent board members actually had dealings with Disney, a complaint echoed by the Roy Disney-Stanley Gold statement.
WITHOUT SPIDEY, SONY SLUMPS
Sony today (Wednesday) blamed a huge fall-off in revenue from its film division for being partly responsible for a 20-percent plunge in quarterly operating profit in the last yarter. Sony said its operating profit fell to $1.5 billion, down from $1.89 billion in the comparable quarter a year ago. Sony was also unable to turn out a film that was the equal of Spider Man and Men in Black 2 at the box office. Sony also cited a slowdown in sales of its PlayStation 2 game consoles, although it reported improvement in sales of DVD recorders and flat-panel TV sets.
WGA VOTES TO KEEP ITS NEW PRESIDENT
The Writers Guild of America, West voted 10-6 Tuesday to keep Charles Holland as its president, turning aside claims that he had taken artistic license with his r