LIGHTNING-ROD NEWS PROGRAMMER JUMPS TO FNC

The controversial news programmer Joel Cheatwood, who recently refashioned CNN Headline News in primetime, has jumped ship, landing at Fox News Channel with the title of vice president of development for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel. In a statement, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes said, "Joel has a strong reputation in the industry for his good ideas and the ability to execute them. He also possesses a wealth of experience he can share with us." Said Cheatwood: "I am thrilled to be a part of a network that is synonymous with innovation, creativity, and risk-taking -- it's a television producer's dream." Before joining CNN Cheatwood developed a reputation for upping the news ratings of local TV stations by encouraging sensationalistic reporting and fast-paced presentation.

O'REILLY AND RIVERA GO AT IT

A war of words bombinated on Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor Thursday night when guest (and fellow FNC commentator) Geraldo Rivera attempted to take host Bill O'Reilly to task for remarking that a drunk driver who killed two teenaged girls was an illegal alien. The deaths would not have occurred had the man been deported, O'Reilly asserted. Geraldo responded: "Cool your jets. It has nothing to do with illegal aliens! It has to do with drunk driving!" O'Reilly: "It doesn't!" Geraldo: "Don't obscure a tragedy to make a cheap political point!" O'Reilly: "If I'm the father. ..." O'Reilly did not finish his sentence, but the father of the two girls later was quoted as saying in reaction to O'Reilly's remarks, "To bring [up] immigration -- that's disrespectful to a family who's just mourning."

CBS CORRESPONDENT PIZZEY CRITICIZES TV NEWS PROGRAMMERS

Television news programs should be giving viewers not only what they want to know about but also what they should know about, CBS correspondent Allen Pizzey told the CBS blog Public Eye Thursday. TV journalists, he said, ought to be telling their audiences, "This is something that affects you. We've gone and found it for you. Here it is." Pizzey expressed frustration with network executives who resist spending money on covering important stories by saying, "People don't want to know about [that] anyway." He especially faulted television news divisions, including his own, for failing to cover Africa. "We don't have enough people there," he said, "news budgets have been crunched."

BROADCASTING NEOPHYTE NAMED BBC CHAIRMAN

British Culture Minister Tessa Jowell has appointed Michael Lyons, a Birmingham politician and professor with virtually no previous broadcasting experience, as the new chairman of the BBC. He succeeds Michael Grade, who quit as chairman last November to take a similar post with the commercial network ITV. Lyons vowed to demonstrate "absolute political impartiality," but his appointment was seen as a manifestation of political cronyism by members of the opposition Conservative party, who noted his close ties to Gordon Brown, the government minister likely to succeed Tony Blair as Britain's next prime minister. Meeting with reporters for the first time, Lyons acknowledged that he watches little television "because of other demands." He added, "Certainly I'm not a program maker, but I'm surrounded by people with these talents."

MORE VIDEOS MOCKING THAI KING POSTED ON YOUTUBE

Although YouTube yanked a video mocking the king of Thailand, the military regime currently running the country continues to block access to the video-sharing website. The reason: the prompt posting of at least two additional videos mocking the king. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Sittichai Pookaiyaudom said that YouTube will continue to be blocked "until all the offensive clips have gone." However, today's (Friday) Bangkok Post observed that the ban "now seems to have touched off a firestorm of web-based retaliation that could see rapid escalation of offensive references to the monarchy on the Internet."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.