EMMY DOES AN ABOUT-FACE
With virtually every major union in Hollywood lined up in opposition to its plan to pretape some of the Emmy awards for next month's 61st annual telecast, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences caved in to the pressure Wednesday and announced that all 28 award presentations will be telecast live. In a statement, the academy said that it had decided to do so in order to "mend relationships within the television community." Academy chairman John Shaffner said the decision would also allow the telecast's producer, Don Mischer, "to focus his full attention on producing the creative elements in the telecast." Critics have suggested that it was indeed the lack of creative material -- rather than the hugs and walks-down-the-aisle -- that has eroded ratings for the annual telecast, which this year will be hosted by How I Met Your Mother costar Neil Patrick Harris.
ABDUL TO STAR IN HER OWN ABC SHOW?
Gossip website TMZ reported Wednesday that Paula Abdul spent part of Tuesday afternoon with ABC entertainment chief Steve McPherson discussing a possible package deal. Citing "our spies," the website said that McPherson has proposed that as part of the package, Abdul would appear as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. "And we're told Paula has a show in mind with her name on it," the website added. Earlier this week numerous entertainment blogs were abuzz with rumors that Abdul has agreed to guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC's Ugly Betty.
GE SLAMS O'REILLY'S REPORT AS "IRRESPONSIBLE AND MALICIOUSLY FALSE"
After remaining silent as Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly hurled one accusation after another at it, General Electric Co. on Wednesday decided that O'Reilly had gone too far when he accused the company of supplying terrorists with the components they use for making bombs. GE issued a statement calling O'Reilly's accusations "irresponsible and maliciously false." On Tuesday, O'Reilly had couched his remarks with the qualification that his show "has been told but cannot confirm, that the General Electric Corporation is under suspicion" in a government investigation of Corezing International, a company that allegedly supplied bomb components to terrorists. In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said that O'Reilly had taken his "smear campaign to a new low" and said that GE does not do business with Corezing and does not produce the components described in O'Reilly's report. GE is the parent company of NBC Universal, which operates Fox News rivals NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC.
O'REILLY'S RATINGS SOAR
Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly is on a tear, drawing 3.19 million viewers Wednesday night, more than the combined total of CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, and CNBC combined. On Wednesday he asked whether the Obama administration had "declared war with Fox News," commenting that rivals CNN and MSNBC have supported the administration's policies "especially in the health-care arena." He declared that Fox News's ratings "are already soaring because we don't denigrate the protesters like many other TV news organizations do, they're dying, we're on fire." The ratings results run counter to what many analysts had predicted following Obama's victory in November, when many had indicated that the conservative movement had suffered a devastating blow that would be reflected in the conservative broadcaster's numbers. Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, whose ratings have declined since the election, went after O'Reilly once again for his commentaries about General Electric, which O'Reilly calls "the evil empire." Said Olbermann: "If I -- or any actual reporter, like me -- had gotten as much wrong in any story as Bill O'Reilly got wrong in this one, I'd be fired in 15 minutes. As he should be now."
MILLIONAIRE'S NUMBERS TICK UPWARDS
America's Got Talent is not the programming juggernaut that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire once was, but neither is Millionaire. The return of the Regis Philbin-hosted quiz show on ABC edged out a "recap" of NBC's Talent at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night as it drew 6.4 million viewers to Talent's 6.1 million. But the total was hardly anything to cheer about. At 9:00 p.m., an original edition of Talent attracted 11.4 million viewers, sealing a victory for the night for NBC, while at ABC, the reality show Wipeout drew the same number of viewers that Millionaire did -- 6.1 million.