CNN'S PRIMETIME PRODUCER OUSTED
Jim Miller, the executive producer of CNN's primetime news hours Paula Zahn Now and Anderson Cooper 360 has resigned after being suspended by the cable news network. Miller is largely credited with initially splitting the two-hour period between Zahn and Cooper and developing, formats for both shows, and attempting to redefine CNN's identity with them. The New York Post suggested that Miller may have been taken to task for inappropriate comments to female colleagues. It quoted a CNN insider as saying, "On Monday, human resources interviewed several women about what he may have said to them in the past." The newspaper also quoted a woman who has worked with Miller as saying, "He's not well-liked and he can be abusive. He knows nothing about TV news, and the ratings [for Zahn and Cooper] are poor."

IS DATELINE SHILLING FOR NBC'S ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS?

Former NBC News President Larry Grossman has described as "a disgrace" the network's plans to devote roughly two hours of its newsmagazine Dateline to Donald Trump's The Apprentice. In an interview with the Associated Press, Grossman said, "It's clearly using the news division to hype the network's entertainment schedule. I can't imagine it's a serious, legitimate news issue, unless they're going to expose the program for some sort of scandal, which I don't think will happen." However, David Corvo, Dateline's executive producer, maintained that the Trump reality show has become a attracted an enormous following. "We're trying to respond to the interest," he said, "They don't need us to inspire the interest."

ONE "FRIEND" TO TAKE OVER FOR FRIENDS

Matt LeBlanc's Joey will inherit the 8:00 p.m. Friends time period on NBC next season, the network announced Thursday. It will be followed by Will & Grace at 8:30 p.m., The Apprentice at 9:00 p.m. and E.R. at 10:00 p.m. NBC also announced that a fourth Law and Order installment will debut next season, Trial by Jury. NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker also told reporters that the network intends to launch the fall season on Aug. 29, four weeks earlier than usual, in order to benefit from the promotional opportunities afforded by the network's Summer Olympics telecasts.

EX-SURVIVOR CONTESTANT YANKED AS COLUMNIST

The Providence Journal has decided to drop a weekly column by Survivor contestant Helen Glover about the current Survivor: All Stars series after CBS warned her that she was violating a confidentiality agreement she signed when she appeared on the show two years ago. The Journal's television writer reported Wednesday that Glover had begun submitting her column to CBS for review prior to sending it to the newspaper for publication. Joel Rawson, executive editor of the newspaper, commented, "We do not submit our articles for approval prior to publication to institutions outside the newspaper. What CBS wants is the right to edit the work of a person writing for The Journal. We find that arrangement unacceptable."

GMA PRODUCER DENIES FEUD WITH GIBSON

Good Morning America executive producer Shelly Ross has attempted to shoot down published rumors that she has been feuding with co-host Charles Gibson and that Gibson has threatened to leave the ABC morning program if she remains. In an inter view with today's (Friday) Philadelphia Inquirer, Ross insisted: "Charlie and I have a good, solid, professional, healthy relationship." She called the accounts of the supposed feud "junk food. Garbage stuff. There's zero to it. Less than zero. We're a gossipy business. Everybody's having fun here."

CABLE OVERTAKES BROADCAST NETWORKS IN AD SALES

For the first time, cable television will earn more from advertisers than the seven broadcast networks during primetime this season, according to Turner Broadcasting research officer Jack Wakshlag. Moreover, according to Wakshlag, cable will also wind up with a bigger share of total viewers -- 50.1 percent versus the networks' 47.3 percent (with the remainder divided among non-advertiser-supported channels). Currently however, the networks attract 71 percent of ad spending to 29 percent for cable. MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews quoted Wakshlag as saying that the figures reveal "the myth that broadcast networks are the only place you can get reach--that you can't get reach if you advertise on cable networks."

JAPANESE TO RECEIVE BROADCASTS ON CELL PHONES

Japan expects to launch the first digital broadcasting service for cell phones by the end of next year. According to the Asahi Shimbun, the service will employ MPEG-4 AVC technology, which can compress video and sound data into relatively tiny files that can be played on the latest generation of cell phones. The Japanese television networks have agreed to pay royalties on the compression equipment to MPEG LA, a group that holds related patents on the technology. The developers had originally demanded that they receive royalties based on the length of each program, which the broadcasters insisted would represent a monumental tracking burden. Cell phone manufacturers would also be required to pay royalties for use of the decompression technology. The Japanese network NHK said that cell phone users will not be charged to view the programs.

STUDIOS LOSE MILLIONS "IN THE MAIL"
MGM lost nearly $10 million in royalty payments from the U.S. Copyright Office and Universal lost more than $15 million because their applications for the royalties arrived a few days after the deadline in 2001, a federal judge ruled in Washington Thursday. Calling it a case of "the dog ate my certified mail receipt," today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times observed that while the studios maintained that the applications had been sent out on time, they were unable to produce certified mail receipts to prove their claim, as required by the Copyright Office. Universal had argued in its court filing that it was unfair to expect it to hold on to "an index-card-sized" receipt "when mailrooms of Hollywood studios faced the upheaval of the anthrax scare."

DVD SALES THIS YEAR ARE FLAT WITH LAST YEAR

After watching sales of DVDs soar from one year to the next, the trade publication Video Store magazine asked, "Is the party over?" as it reported sales of DVDs in February virtually identical with those for February, 2003. Sales of videocassettes continued their steep slide, falling 37 percent behind the figure for the previous year. Overall, DVD sales accounted for 90 percent of the total home video market of $1.07 billion.

Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: SCOOBY-DOO 2

Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert admits that he gave one of his worst reviews ever to the original Scooby-Doo. He handed it one star. He gives the sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, two stars. What he experienced as he watched the new one, he says, "was not the intense dislike I had for the first film, but a kind of benign indifference." In any case, he remarks, his opinion about the movie is probably "irrelevant to those who will want to see it." Other reviewers are suggesting that the sequel doesn't live up to the mediocrity of the original. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post calls it "little more than 91 minutes of cheesy special effects in search of a remotely coherent story." Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe writes that the movie aims "its dim wit at 5-and-unders, insulting them and whoever was foolish enough to take them on the outing." The dependably contrarian Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas, however, applauds the film as "a special effects bonanza that plays like an incredibly elaborate theme park ride," but nevertheless warns parents who plan to take their kids to see it "to consider whether their offspring are mature enough to recognize when scary, even brutal make-believe is supposed to be all in fun."

Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: THE LADYKILLERS

The Coen brothers usually make a low-budget movie about once a year that critics usually adore and audiences usually ignore. Their remake of the Alec Guinness classic The Ladykillers is expected to draw a bigger crowd than most of their earlier films, if only because it stars Tom Hanks in the Guinness role. Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune concludes that the remake should "please the mass audience and the cognoscenti ... {It's] glorious fun to watch." On this morning's Good Morning America, Joel Siegel called the film "brilliant," adding, "I got the feeling Hanks hasn't had this much fun at the movies since he was a teenager and got lucky in the balcony of the Oakland Fox." Likewise, A.O. Scott in the New York Times says that Hanks, whose character is a criminal posing as a Southern professor, plays the role "with a vaudevillian relish that would be unseemly if it were not contagious." No, says Scott, the film doesn't live up to the original and doesn't even live up to the best work of the Coens, but, he says, "it is nonetheless intermittently delightful." Scott's view of the film is shared by a number of other reviewers. Peter Howell writes in the Toronto Star: "Not quite top-drawer Coen Bros., but good enough to make you wish it were, The Ladykillers is a case of being grateful for small pleasures." Several critics, however, express dismay over this latest effort by the Coens. Phillip Wuntch remarks in the Dallas Morning News: "The Ladykillers will temporarily lift your spirits, but it lacks the moxie and chutzpah of customary Coen outings." And Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News writes, "You have to look at the earlier film to understand where the Coen brothers went wrong -- terribly, noisily, annoyingly wrong. They've made a broad comedy out of a black comedy and completely lost its charm in the process."

Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: JERSEY GIRL

Jersey Girl is being touted as the last film to benefit from the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez blare, one that could straighten Affleck's wobbly career, and as director Kevin Smith's first "grown-up" effort. Critics disagree wildly about whether it succeeds on any of those counts. On the one hand Stephen Holden writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Smith has made a movie so false and blatantly icky that it's the film equivalent of making goo-goo noises and chucking a baby under the chin for 103 minutes." Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer warns that "say practically oozes from the screen." Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News remarks that Smith "has relied on every hoary cliche of the romantic melodrama in a mundane yarn about a man brought low by tragedy and raised up by the love of a child wise beyond her years." And Kenneth Turan warns in the Los Angeles Times: "Imagine a Shirley Temple movie written and directed by Lenny Bruce ... with key plot points involving pornography and masturbation, and you'll get an idea of what writer-director Kevin Smith has come up with in Jersey Girl." On the other hand, Mike Clark in USA Today concludes: "Smith is looking more and more like a developing major talent. ... The film is not only defensible as a cute one-shot, but also as a positive sign for the future." Lisa Kennedy likewise concludes that the film is "a small movie with a big star doing some of his most appealing work. And that's no small feat." Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News recommends that "Smith should continue to mine family life. It suits him." And Eric Harrison concludes in the Houston Chronicle that Jersey Girl is Smith's "first mature work in which he weds his gift for quirky dialogue and humor with genuine feeling and tries to craft a story with broad appeal."