EMMY PRODUCERS DEFEND CHANGES
Facing a rising chorus of opposition to its decision to pre-tape several awards for the Sept. 20 Emmys telecast -- some 150 members of the Writers Guild of America, including several prominent showrunners have signed a petition protesting the decision -- Emmy producers on Monday tried to assure the industry that its decision was aimed at eliminating some of the boring aspects of the ceremonies in order to boost ratings. "We're just trying to edit down the standing and the hugging ... and the walking down the aisle," Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris told the Television Critics Association press tour. Producer Don Mischer added that pre-taping the awards in eight categories will allow the awards show's creators to draw more attention to hit shows, whether or not they received nominations. On Monday, the Associated Press observed that research commissioned by the TV academy indicated that some viewers aren't watching the awards show "because the Emmys featured shows they didn't know and weren't interested in."
TV STATIONS DROP ANCHOR(S)
With local television revenue falling to a level not seen since 1995, many television stations are laying off star news anchors, many of whom have spent decades with the stations, according to TVWeek, which observed that the roles and pay scales of top anchors "are currently undergoing a radical, sometimes ugly, realignment." The trade publication, citing a survey by the Radio & Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), noted that some 1,200 employees in local TV news lost their jobs in 2008 and that many survivors have taken pay cuts or added extra duties. Bob Papper, chairman of the journalism department at Hofstra University, which conducted the RTNDA survey, noted, "If you're the frontline anchor at the No. 1 station or a very competitive No. 2, you're fine ... If you're a really highly paid anchor at a distant No. 2 or 3 or 4 station, you're in trouble."
OLBERMANN: NO TRUCE WITH O'REILLY
MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann is challenging a New York Times report that "lieutenants" representing News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch and GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt imposed a truce on his feud with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly. on his MSNBC Countdown program Monday night, Olbermann said that he told New York Times reporter Brian Stelter that no such deal ever was brokered and that he had not been asked by his bosses at MSNBC or GE to tone down his dispute with O'Reilly. On his blog, Olbermann wrote that the Times article was "part of a continuing strategy of blackmail by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, that reaches back to 2004, and has as its goal the cancellation of Countdown." Referring to a quote by Ailes, the Fox News chief, that he had attempted to broker peace by restraining O'Reilly, Olbermann wrote: "This is the same Ailes who insisted he would never interfere with what Bill O'Reilly said on the air. Even naked hypocrisy is not too much if Fox can make itself seem victimized, or can muzzle dissent."
CBS HAS NO SPECIAL ANTI-LENO PLANS
CBS-TV Entertainment President Nina Tassler insisted on Monday that her network has no plans to make major changes to its primetime lineup. Speaking to the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Tassler said, "We're not going to fix what isn't broken." She said that the network, which airs only a handful of reality shows in primetime, has no plans to air more, except for its new There Goes the Neighborhood on Sundays. "We have a huge commitment to scripted programming and we'll continue to follow that course." As for the 10:00 p.m. competition from Jay Leno next fall, Tassler said, "Ten o'clock has been a great business for us. ... Three of the returning shows win their time periods. ... We're not really looking at what NBC is doing." Asked about the departure of Ben Silverman from NBC, she replied, "I'm really just a D-girl, so I wouldn't comment on that." She was referring to a remark by Silverman in an Esquire magazine profile in 2007 in which Silverman called the heads of competing networks "D-girls," short for "development girls," or production assistants.