REPORT: ZELL TO BE OUSTED FROM TRIBUNE
Creditors of Tribune company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, are working on a reorganization plan that will remove billionaire Sam Zell from any future involvement with the company, the Chicago Sun Times reported Sunday, citing two sources familiar with the process. The creditors, the newspaper said, plan to sell off Tribune's assets piecemeal. They include the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV in Chicago and the Los Angeles Times and KTLA in Los Angeles. Tribune also owns 22 other TV stations. The newspaper quoted William Brandt Jr., a turnaround expert, as saying, "This was a textbook case of a leverage buyout gone bad. ... These were imbeciles who had no idea what they were doing." Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported today (Monday) that Tribune's creditors have asked bankruptcy court for permission to hire special counsel to determine whether "fraudulent conveyance" occurred when Zell engineered the leveraged buyout of the company.
U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE PUTS PLANS FOR OLYMPICS CHANNEL ON HOLD
Side-stepping a potential showdown with the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee said on Sunday that it is putting on hold its plans to launch a cable TV channel focusing on Olympic sports. OSOC Chairman Larry Probst said that the U.S. committee would not move ahead with its plans for the channel before it secures "the full support and cooperation" of the IOC. His comments came one day after he discussed the matter with IOC President Jacques Rogge. Last month Rogge expressed concern that the cable channel could jeopardize the IOC's $5.7-billion deal with NBC for exclusive broadcast rights through 2012. Chicago officials had also expressed concern that the issue could compromise its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
REPORT: IMUS LIKELY TO JOIN FOX BUSINESS NETWORK
Fox Business Network is in "advanced negotiations" to simulcast Don Imus's "Imus in the Morning" talk show on Citadel Radio from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. to lead into its regular business programming, the New York Times reported today (Monday), citing people close to the talks. The deal would end Imus's current contract with RFD-TV, which can be seen in just 36 million households. Fox Business can been seen in about 50 million households, but its current audience is tiny -- an average of just 21,000 viewers, according to estimates. Imus's show currently attracts a daily average of 49,000 viewers. By contrast, business-channel leader CNBC can be seen in 97 million households.
EISNER'S NEW SITCOM NO LAUGHING MATTER, SAY CRITICS
Former Disney chief Michael Eisner is getting no "welcome home" salutes from critics as he returns to television tonight (Monday) with a new stop-motion animated series for Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite, Glenn Martin, DDS, from Eisner's Tornante Animation. Randee Dawn in the Hollywood Reporter lays into Eisner's boast that the series re-imagines the role of the TV sitcom. "Imagination comes in handy, though," Dawn writes, "in trying to figure out how someone approved this concept, labored on this and then let it free into the world. Mr. Eisner, really. This is how you wanted to bring Tornante Animation into the world? You should know better. What would Mickey say?" Mike Hale in the New York Times remarks that the sitcom "is pretty much laugh-free (though it does have a laugh track)." Robert Lloyd, the television critic for the Los Angeles Times, adds: "Nowadays the only reason to give a cartoon a laugh track -- unless it is an ironic comment on the use of laugh tracks -- is that you are unsure your audience will know when, or if, to laugh." He calls the show "weak and wheezy." In the Boston Herald, Mark A. Perlgard headlines his review: "Even laughing gas couldn't make Glenn Martin, DDS amusing." And in Newsday, Verne Gay headlines his: "Glenn Martin, DDS: Getting laughs is like pulling teeth."
VETERAN ANNOUNCER ED RIEMERS DEAD AT 96
Ed Reimers, who could be heard doing voice-overs for dozens of television shows, industrial films and commercials for nearly 30 years in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, but was best known as the announcer who cupped his hands together and intoned, "You're in good hands with Allstate, died Sunday in Saratoga Springs, NY at the age of 96.