FACTIONS AT CBS TAKE STAND ON COURIC
Some websites are describing a veritable civil war developing in the hallways of CBS News over Katie Couric, with Couric loyalists describing her recent critics as traitors. The latest rumpus arose over a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer in which unnamed CBS insiders voiced pointed criticism of Couric. Two of the Inquirer's sources were later identified by FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman as Bob Schieffer and Leslie Stahl. On Wednesday, Friedman described a meeting of the CBS Evening News staff with producer Rick Kaplan in which the staff members voiced their support of Couric and denounced the CBS vets who criticized her in the Inquirer article. One staff insider told the TVNewser website that the Couric critics hold "individual agendas" and are "distracting from the progress being made." But the website also posted an email message from a writer who questioned the progress and noted that Couric is taking a bigger pounding from viewers than she is from CBS News veterans as they continue to flee to rival evening newscasts.
TRUMP SAYS HE GOT ROSIE FIRED
Donald Trump maintained Wednesday that Rosie O'Donnell was not departing The View on her own volition but had in fact been fired by ABC. "I'm proud to say I probably had a part in it," Trump, who earlier in the year had engaged in a long-running war of words with O'Donnell, said. ABC quickly issued a denial But Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, suggested there may have been some measure of truth in Trump's assertions, noting that while O'Donnell may have succeeded in boosting The View's ratings by 17 percent this season, she was probably being viewed warily by advertisers. In the post-Don Imus era, Thompson told the Philadelphia Inquirer, advertisers are "looking for potential time bombs. It gets to the point where they question whether somebody is worth the trouble. Rosie constantly went over the line." The Catholic League's William Donohue welcomed O'Donnell's departure, telling the New York Times, "She's offended a lot of people. ... She's a train wreck."
BALDWIN WANTS TO LEAVE 30 ROCK; NBC SAYS NO
Alex Baldwin said during a taped interview for The View due to air on Friday that he wants to leave acting and spend the next three to five years of his life focusing on the issues of divorce in general and his own divorce (to Kim Bassinger) in particular. NBC immediately issued a statement suggesting that it had no intention of allowing Baldwin to quit 30 Rock, the sitcom in which he stars. "Alec Baldwin remains an important part of 30 Rock," the network's statement said. "We look forward to having him continue his role in the show." During The View interview Baldwin also apologized to his 11-year-old daughter for a message he left on her answering machine -- that was later leaked to the press -- in which he hurled insults at her for missing his call.
DATELINE PRODUCER ON SPECTOR JURY?
A number of writers covering the murder trial of record producer Phil Spector have raised eyebrows over a report that a producer for NBC's Dateline magazine program is sitting on the jury. Eric Longabardi reported on ERSNews.com Tuesday that Gorfain runs Dateline's L.A. office and had been assigned to the Spector case by the program. On its website Wednesday, Radar magazine quoted an NBC News insider as saying, "He's only been covering it in the sense that he runs the L.A. office." [The term "producer" is used loosely in the TV news business. Gorfain has never received a producer's credit on any Dateline feature.]
NO MEA CULPAS FROM TV REPORTERS OVER TILLMAN, LYNCH STORIES
The major television networks on Tuesday covered the congressional hearings into how the Pentagon used the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the capture of Jessica Lynch in Iraq to feed its propaganda engine without ever mentioning that they facilitated the effort, several media commentators observed Wednesday. "The news media should not just wriggle off the hook for their role in these deceptions," Andrew Tyndall wrote in his respected The Tyndall Report on television news. "They were complicit in the hype that turned both Tillman and Lynch into fabricated heroes. ... Yet none of the reporting on the hearings included a hint of self-criticism."
NIELSEN RELEASES FIRST DVR RATINGS
Nielsen Research, which provides data about the number of viewers who watch television shows when they air, produced its first data about shows that people watch after they air, mostly using digital recording devices like TiVo. Topping the list was Fox's House, which was viewed last week by 2.7 million people following is original broadcast. ABC's Lost came in second with 2.47 million "time shifting" the program. The Tuesday (performance) episode of American Idol came in third, with 2.46 million.
NO WINNER ANNOUNCED ON IDOL
Fox's two-hour American Idol: Idol Gives Back Wednesday night, in which viewers were asked to contribute to charities helping young people living in extreme poverty in the U.S. and Africa, ended with none of Tuesday's finalists being booted off the show. "How could we let anyone go on a charity night?" host Ryan Seacrest asked, noting that the votes tallied for last night's show will be added to next week's, when two of the six remaining contestants will be eliminated. Ratings for the Idol special were off from previous weeks in the first hour but rose steadily during the night. The initial half-hour of the program at 8:00 p.m. recorded only a 13.7 rating and a 23 share -- terrific by ordinary standards but disappointing by Idol standards. Nevertheless, the show peaked in the final half hour at 9:30 p.m. to an 18.3/27 representing a whopping 30.25 million viewers.
In Wednesday's edition, in a report about a forthcoming animated Star Wars spoof, we stated incorrectly that it will air on Comedy Central. It will air as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.