IDOL MAY HAVE TWO TALENT CONTESTS NEXT SEASON
American Idol will continue with four judges, despite the departure of Paula Abdul, producers of the show and the Fox network said Thursday. For the time being, they said, Abdul will be replaced by guest judges. They have already lined up singers Katy Perry and Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham. It was not clear whether the guest judges will also be auditioning for a permanent spot on the show. Meanwhile, it was not clear whether the producers of the show had left the door open a crack for Abdul to return. Even Nigel Lythgoe, the former executive producer of Idol, seemed unsure when he was interviewed by reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. "I still don't know that she is going to leave Idol," he said. "Until Idol goes on the air there are always opportunities for renegotiations." He indicated that he plans to meet with Abdul over the weekend to talk about the possibility of her appearance on So You Think You Can Dance, which he produces for Fox.
FOX YANKS FAMILY GUY ABORTION EPISODE
Fox TV confirmed Thursday that it will not air an episode of Family Guy in which one of the principal characters undergoes an abortion. Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly told members of the Television Critics Association in Pasadena Thursday that his decision to yank the episode prompted by concerns of an advertiser backlash. He said that he had raised his concerns with Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, but that MacFarlane had declined to alter the script. "We don't censor Seth," Reilly said. "It was a business decision." He said that at the time the issue arose, "there was a tough conversation going on with [advertisers], and we didn't need the headache." Nevertheless, he indicated, the episode will be included in the Family Guy DVD of the eighth season.
CBS RECOVERING FROM BLACK EYE
Not even the highest-rated network can escape the vicissitudes of the current economy. CBS said on Thursday that is operating income fell 62 percent in the second quarter, but unlike some other media conglomerates, managed to stay in the black. In a conference call with analysts, CBS chief Les Moonves predicted, "The worst is behind us" and said that ad sales during the current quarter are stronger than a year ago. He also predicted that some government initiatives like "Cash for Clunkers" and healthcare programs will generate additional revenue for CBS's radio and TV stations as the administration launches its efforts to inform the public about them. In its SEC filing, the company said that its operating income in the second quarter fell to $242.2 million versus $637 million during the comparable quarter a year ago. Earnings plummeted to $15.4 million, down from $408.4 million a year ago -- a 96-percent plunge.
ALL THREE LATE-NIGHT SHOWS DOING FINE, RATINGS SUGGEST
There was encouraging ratings news for all three late-night network TV shows on Thursday. CBS's Late Show with David Letterman drew far more viewers that NBC's Tonight show with Conan O'Brien. Late Show attracted 3.4 million viewers to Tonight's 2.6 million. But among the key group of 18-49-year-old viewers, Tonight led with 1.4 million to Late Show's 1.0 million. ABC's Nightline tied with Late Show for the lead in overall viewers and edged out Late Show among adults 18-49.
WILL SUPREME COURT SESSIONS BE TELEVISED?
The head of the Radio-Television News Directors Association said Wednesday that she is "encouraged" by comments made by Judge Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearing about the possibility of allowing cameras inside the Supreme Court. Asked how she stood on the issue, Sotomayor responded, "I have had positive experiences with cameras when I have been asked to join experiments using cameras in the courtroom" In a statement RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel said, "I'm encouraged that Justice Sotomayor used the word 'positive' to describe her experiences with cameras in the courtroom. ... The prospect that our viewers may soon be able to get that same coverage of the Supreme Court is very exciting indeed." Sotomayor's predecessor, David Souter, was a vocal opponent of allowing TV coverage of Supreme Court hearings.