WHAT IF SANJAYA WINS?
With Sanjaya Malakar surviving another elimination round of American Idol, a website has popped up named ifsanjayawins.com, and other websites have joined in speculating what effect such a win for the personable but seemingly tone-deaf 17-tear-old singer could mean for television's most lucrative franchise. The gossip site TMZ reported Wednesday that executives of Sony BMG, which is obligated to release a CD of the winner are "really nervous" about a possible Sanjaya victory. "They now think Sanjaya could win the competition and worry that he's like the new Pet Rock -- the novelty will wear off and his records won't sell," the website said. (Record producers have long maintained, however, that talented recording engineers can turn even the most hopeless-sounding performer into a pop star -- and have.) Meanwhile, ratings for Idol have been slipping slightly in recent weeks, although they continue to remain higher than any show on television. Tuesday night's one-hour performance episode posted a 15.3 rating and a 25 share, while Wednesday night's results episode registered a 15.1/24.
INQUIRER TV COLUMNIST SHISTER WRITES FINAL DAILY COLUMN
Gail Shister, who has written a TV column for the Philadelphia Inquirer for 27 years, has written her final one. "Sadly, the economic realities of the newspaper business are such that the staff of The Inquirer, my journalistic home for 27 years, has been hard hit by layoffs and buyouts," she wrote. "To this reporter, it means The Inquirer doesn't have the luxury of a daily, staff-written column about TV." She said that she will continue to write occasional features about TV and that she "will not -- repeat not -- abandon TV news." (She had previously told the Washington Post that Inquirer editors wanted to reassign her solely to entertainment TV.) She concluded: "My mission -- to serve you -- has not changed. It will just appear irregularly and in a different form. I have only one request. Stay with me."
YOUTUBE YANKS VIDEO MOCKING THAILAND'S KING
A controversial YouTube video mocking the king of Thailand that resulted in YouTube being shut down in the country has suddenly disappeared from the website. On Wednesday, Winai Yoosabai, the head censor at Thailand's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, said that the website had been blocked throughout the country because the video is "insulting to our king." Ordinarily, YouTube will not remove a video unless a copyright owner demands it. However, in this case YouTube agreed to yank it following the action of the military regime that seized control of the country last September. Originally, when accessing the video viewers received a notice reading, "This video has been removed by the user." Shortly thereafter, those accessing the site received another message reading, "This account is closed." The Bangkok Post reported today that the video was played more than 66,000 times worldwide before it was removed, almost all of the hits occurring after news of the government crackdown was reported. Earlier Sittichai Pookaiyaudom, Minister of Information and Communications Technology told Bloomberg News: "This is small issue for [YouTube], but it's very big for us. This has shaken the country's stability."
HBO, NBC RECEIVE MOST PEABODY AWARDS
NBC's struggling comedies The Office and Scrubs and its acclaimed but low-rated new drama Friday Night Lights were winners Thursday of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards. ABC's new comedy Ugly Betty was also a recipient. Among news and documentary awards, two had featured the reporting of now-deceased newsmen. The late Ed Bradley's report on the Duke University rape accusations for CBS's 60 Minutes and the ABC documentary Out of Control: AIDS in Black America, which Peter Jennings was working on when he was felled by lung cancer, each won Peabodys. So did Brian Ross's investigation of the Mark Foley sex scandal, which aired across ABC's news and news-magazine programs. Also honored was Spike Lee's HBO documentary on the New Orleans disaster, "When the Levees Broke" as well as three other HBO documentaries, Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer, Baghdad ER, and The Music in Me. HBO also won for the docudrama Elizabeth I, starring Helen Mirren.
FOX TO PLAY BALL EVERY SATURDAY
Fox TV is planning to present fewer baseball playoff games in primetime next fall but more Saturday day games beginning this weekend, the network announced Wednesday. In fact, the network plans to air a baseball game of the week every Saturday this season beginning at 3:30 p.m. Regional coverage on Saturday will include Minnesota vs. Chicago White Soz, New York Mets vs. Atlanta, and San Francisco vs. L.A. Dodgers. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball, bowing to public anger over an exclusive deal that would have made its out-of-market package Extra Innings available only to DirecTV subscribers, negotiated a last-minute contract that will also include cable operators.