Forget all those daily rumors about Paula Abdul negotiating a new deal that will return her to American Idol. David Sonenberg, her manager, put the kibosh on them Wednesday when he told the Los Angeles Times, "There have been no discussions whatsoever about Idol." He declined to slam the door on the matter, however, saying that he would "never count anything out." Sonenberg said that Abdul has been weighing numerous offers because producers realize she "is the kind of person who is pulling for you. ... When you look at the Idolsituation, it was clear she cared about those kids. It was clear she wanted them to feel safe." Nevertheless, he insisted that Abdul has received no revised offer from Fox, which airs American Idol, as some news outlets have suggested. "Her focus right now is speaking to all the other networks. The only one we haven't talked to, because of recent events, is Fox."


The NFL on Wednesday said that it had extended its deal with NBC for Sunday Night Football for two seasons. The deal will allow the weekly primetime telecasts to continue through the 2013 season. Last year the football telecasts represented virtually the only bright spot in NBC's ratings, although it was by no means clear whether the telecasts can continue to earn enough advertising dollars to justify their $600-million-per-year payment to the NFL plus the costs of production and promotion.


Jay Leno says he intends to provide a showcase for new comedy talent on his nightly NBC show after it debuts on Sept. 14 -- but not necessarily newcomers who are adept at doing stand-up routines. Meeting with reporters, Leno said that the young talent he plans to spotlight will not just be "a bunch of white guys doing standup. ... I think we have a diverse group. It looks like America." Many of them will be featured in pretaped comedy vignettes, he indicated. "I hope we can make some stars in this," Leno said. "I hope people become famous and get offered shows. If they replaced me with a guy we discovered, I mean, that would be great."


Readers of Time Warner's Entertainment Weeklywho live in New York and Los Angeles will receive their September issue with a small screen that can display up to 40 minutes of video ads, the publishers have revealed. The ads, activated when a page is turned, will feature previews of upcoming CBS TV shows and show commercials for Pepsi Cola brands, reports said. The Financial Timescited an industry executive with knowledge of the technology as estimating that running one video ad will cost an advertiser several dollars per copy -- versus about 9 cents per copy for a full-page color ad in Entertainment Weekly. The technology has generated complaints that it will help nail the coffin of traditional print journalism. Writing in the London Timesblog section, technology editor Nigel Kendall commented, "This may be a triumph of technology, but in an age that's defined by its ability to fast-forward through unwanted commercials, the prospect of 40 minutes of the damned things doesn't exactly fill me with glee." Internet marketing blogger Frank Reed remarked, "For me, sitting down with a magazine is more relaxing than ever just because nothing moves!"


Western journalists have joined their Afghan counterparts in defying a government order not to report incidents of violence during the current elections. In Kabul, Rahimullah Samander, the head of the Independent Journalist Association, told the Associated Press, "We will not obey this order. We are going to continue with our normal reporting and broadcasting of news." In London the BBC said, "We have a duty to our audiences to report on the situation in Afghanistan fairly and accurately, and we will continue to do so." A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul commented that the freedom to report the news in Afghanistan "is directly linked to the credibility of the elections."


A 68-year-old romantic triangle between Archie Andrews and his girlfriends Betty and Veronica officially comes to an end on Wednesday, September 1 when, in Issue No. 600 of Archie Comics (now owned by DC comics, a Time Warner company), Archie asks Veronica to marry him. The first issue of a six-parter, which was mailed out on Wednesday, imagines the couple five years older, with Archie popping the question on bended knee. (Readers are not privy to her response in this issue.) Archie first began dating the two teenage Riverdale schoolmates in 1941 and has continued to do so in comic books, comic strips, radio shows and TV shows ever since. The six-issue series -- to be published every four weeks -- is being sold at the official Archie website (http://archiecomics.stores.yahoo.net/subscribetoday.html) at a "sale price" of $9.90. Hearing of the proposal, Dave Luebke, owner of Dave's Comics in Richmond, VA and a "Pick Betty" advocate, became so irate that he sold his copy of Archie Comics No. 1 -- for $38,800.