SAG SAYS "INFORMAL" TALKS CONTINUE
Screen Actors Guild National Executive Director Doug Allen assured members Sunday that union negotiators are continuing to participate in informal talks with members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. "Progress doesn't have to occur directly across a table," he wrote in an email. "Discussions through alternative channels are ongoing as we work toward a fair deal for actors as soon as possible." While Allen referred to several issues that remain a top priority for union negotiators, including jurisdiction over programs produced for the Internet, residuals for new media productions, product integration, and force majeure, conspicuously missing from the message was any mention of an increase DVD residuals, a matter the AMPTP has said it will refuse to discuss. Meanwhile, in an interview with New York Times, union President Alan Rosenberg criticized an insurgent union members who have criticized SAG's negotiating strategy and have put up a slate of candidates to oppose the current leadership. "It is not productive to come out and attack leadership during a negotiation," Rosenberg told the newspaper. Asked about charges that leaders had made mistakes in the negotiations, he replied: "It's a lie! We haven't bungled anything. We've been doing a phenomenal job."
FEW WATCH REALITY SHOWS ONLINE
Although unscripted reality shows continue to dominate the Nielsen ratings, taking six of the top ten places last week, they are nowhere to be found on Big Champagne's list of the 20 most downloaded television shows on BitTorrent websites. Last week's top two BitTorrented shows were NBC's Heroes and ABC's Lost. The two shows have continued to top the Big Champagne list defying the notion that users of the BitTorrent sites are primarily interested in seeing episodic television shows that they may have missed. Both Heroes and Lost are currently being rerun.
SCOOBY-DOO: DIRECT TO DVD AND CABLE
The next live-action/animated Scooby-Doo movie will not have a theatrical release but instead will be released straight to DVD with a virtual simultaneous screening on The Cartoon Network. The original Scooby-Doo movie, released in 2002, grossed $154 million, but a sequel, Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed, took in just about half that amount. Like the two theatrical movies, the people characters will be portrayed by live actors, while the dog Scooby will be computer animated (and voiced by Frank Welker, who provided his voice in the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon series).
MURDOCH -- ALL IS WELL AT NEWS CORP, EXCEPT FOR LOCAL TV
News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch says that advertising revenue at his Fox cable network, and cable channels, as well as his Internet properties, is "very, very good." Meeting with reporters in Mumbai (Bombay), India today (Monday), Murdoch observed that his cable networks are "all sold out for 12 months." Only his local stations, which depend on automotive advertising as a mainstay, have shown weakness, he indicated. Last week General Motors reported a $15.5-billion loss for its second quarter while Ford reported a loss of $8.5 billion. Both companies have announced plans to cut back marketing and advertising costs drastically.
FCC REBUKES COMCAST FOR BLOCKING BITTORRENT SITES
The Federal communications Commission on Friday strongly rebuked Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable TV provider, for preventing some customers from using BitTorrent file-sharing technology on its Internet service. By a 3-2 vote, the FCC said that Comcast had lied to it when asked about complaints that the cable company had tried to block subscribers access to file-sharing sites that competed against Comcast's own video-on demand service. Although the commission ordered Comcast to inform customers about its Internet policies and not to block websites, it did not fine the corporation. Nevertheless, Comcast said it would appeal.
VERIZON TO LAUNCH INTERNET-TO-TV SERVICE
Verizon has begun a test of a service on its high-speed FIOS system that delivers online video directly to TV sets. The system reportedly brings up a navigation screen on the left side of the television set that allows Verizon customers to access such sites as YouTube, Break.com, and Blip.tv.
BRAVES' SKIP CARAY DEAD AT 68
Atlanta Braves play-by-play announcer Skip Caray died in his sleep Sunday at age 68. He was the son of famed Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and had been the voice of the Braves for 33 years, 30 of them on WTBS Superstation.