NBC DEFRAUDED WILL & GRACE CREATORS, JURORS SAY

NBC Universal has settled a lawsuit brought by the creators of Will & Grace, who had claimed that NBC Studios, the company that had produced it, had sold it to the NBC network for a low fee, thereby cheating them out of their fair share of what would have been a larger profit. NBC decided to settle after the jury had already reached a verdict against the company as both sides feared that the jury foreman might be disqualified and that they would have to return to court to do battle with one another again, according to news reports. The foreman, it was recently disclosed, had once written disparaging commentaries on his website condemning the "corporate media." Today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times reported that the jury had decided to award Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick $49 million. "We determined that there was fraud," one juror, Robert Centrone, told the newspaper. Another, Rick Gonzales, added, "How do you make a determination of the fair market value when you are bidding against your boss? Let's be realistic, NBC and NBC Studios, they were a monopoly."

REPORT ON D.C. CALL-GIRL RING EXPECTED TO BOOST ABC RATINGS

An ABC 20/20 report about a Washington D.C. "escort service" is expected to draw top ratings when it airs Friday night during the May sweeps. The exposé has already resulted in the resignation of Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias, after ABC's investigations unit, headed by Brian Ross, found his name in the madam's phone records. Additional resignations could come before the broadcast airs, some reports speculated, producing further free publicity for it. Meanwhile, last Friday's 20/20, featuring an hour-long report by Barbara Walters about transgender children, placed second among overall viewers, but, in an anomaly for a news magazine, which usually draws older viewers, placed first among adults 18-49.

N.Y. TIMES' RSVP TO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER: REGRETS

In what could force a reexamination of what often is regarded as an all-too-chummy relationship between the administration and the "fourth estate," the New York Times has confirmed that it will no longer attend the annual White House Correspondents Association dinners in Washington. The decision by the newspaper was originally revealed in a column by the Times's Frank Rich, who wrote Sunday that the event "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows." It also comes days after a Congressional hearing looked into charges that the Pentagon had, for propaganda purposes, fabricated an elaborate account about the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, who was eulogized by President Bush at the 2004 WHCA dinner. No other news organization immediately indicated that it would follow the Times's lead. Last week incoming WHCA President Ann Compton of ABC News, discounted the growing complaints that the dinner is unethical, telling Editor & Publisher, that the charges are "way overdone."

BROKAW CONGRATULATES CAPUS ON HANDLING OF KILLER'S TAPES

As NBC News President Steve Capus was being lambasted by both liberal and conservative critics for airing the video sent to the network by Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-hui, he received a telephone call from former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw congratulating him on his handling of the matter. Today's (Monday) Washington Post reported that after Capus appeared on Oprah Winfrey's talk show with current NBC anchor Brian Williams to discuss the decision to air Cho's tape, Brokaw phoned to say, "You had to do it. ... It's okay to have these discussions about how the press makes decisions." Capus says that he is still angry about comments from some critics that the network "will have blood on its hands" if another deranged killer is inspired by the tape to follow suit. "We're not above criticism," Capus told the Post, "but let's not take the easy way out and turn to the lowest form of political rhetoric."

PANASONIC MAKER PREDICTS YEAR OF THE PLASMA SCREEN

Matsushita Electronics, which sells consumer electronics goods in the U.S. under the Panasonic brand, predicted Friday that sales of its plasma-screen TV sets will rise 43 percent in 2007, producing record profits. The Dow Jones News Service reported that Matsushita expects to sell five million sets during this year compared with 3.5 million a year ago.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.