FOOTBALL KNOCKS OVER SUNDAY COMPETITION

Football once again became a potent Sunday-night force as first an overrun of a CBS NFL telecast scored the highest ratings during the 7:00 hour as it posted an 11.4 rating and an 18 share during the 7:00 hour (which it shared with 60 Minutes). NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast, featuring the New Orleans Saints vs. the Dallas Cowboys, then took over, drawing an average 10.6/16 at 8:00 p.m., a 12.5/18 at 9:00 p.m. and an 11.4/18 at 10:00 p.m.

COURIC DONS MURROW'S MANTLE

CBS News plans to revive Person to Person, the celebrity interview feature hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the early '50s. This time it will become a feature of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, with Couric herself conducting the interviews. The feature debuted on the newscast last Thursday night, with Couric showing clips from the Murrow broadcasts, then remarking, "CBS has a long tradition of bringing you not only the news but the people making news." Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a member of the Iraq Study Group, was the first person to be interviewed for the Person to Person segment. Meanwhile, the November sweeps ratings have shown that Couric is attracting 169,000 fewer viewers than Bob Schieffer did when he was anchoring the news program a year ago. However, in an interview with Sunday's New York Times, Rome Hartman, executive producer of the CBS newscast, observed, "We really have been focused on trying to make the broadcast as good as it can be and not chasing any specific demographic or viewer, but hoping we are doing a broadcast that is interesting and lively and valuable. ... That is going to be a long process and hopefully one that will be successful. It's going to take time."

COX SAYS SHE "WOULD NOT BE OPPOSED TO" A FRIENDS REUNION

Courteney Cox appeared to reignite talk of a possible Friends reunion special in an interview on the syndicated Access Hollywood magazine show. Profiled in connection with the launch of her new series Dirt on the FX network beginning Jan. 2, Cox said that she "would not be opposed to" a Friends special. However, she added, "Let's not make a big deal out of it and say, 'The friends are getting back together.' I'm just saying I'm not opposed to it. It's a lot of different people to get into the room ... so the chances of it happening is so slim. But would Jennifer [Aniston' and I? Sure."

NETWORKS MAY LAUNCH ALTERNATIVE TO YOUTUBE

CBS, NBC, and Fox are in talks about launching a website, featuring videos from their own programming, that would compete with YouTube, the Wall Street Journal reported in its weekend edition Saturday, citing people close to the situation. The planned action by the networks is reportedly driven primarily by the fact that hundreds of clips from their programs are being uploaded without permission onto the YouTube site and that the networks do not derive revenue from them. ABC indicated that it would not participate in the talks because they want to focus on building their own websites. The Journal pointed out that the talks could still founder, inasmuch as each network is currently weighing attractive licensing deals from YouTube.

LIBERTY TO TAKE OVER SPORTS NETS ALONG WITH DIRECTV

Hot off a deal with News Corp that gives it control of DirecTV, John Malone's Liberty Media has completed an auxiliary deal with News Corp that will give it ownership of regional sports channels in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Denver, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday), citing people close to the situation. The newspaper said that the deal for the channels had been pounded out because, in order for the DirecTV deal to qualify for a tax-free swap, 5 percent of the assets being traded must be complete operating businesses. On the other hand, News Corp holds only a 38.6 percent stake in DirecTV.

BBC EXECS WERE "DISGUSTED" WITH PYTHON, DOCUMENTS DISCLOSE

BBC executives came close to dropping Monty Python's Flying Circus at the height of its popularity in the early 1970s, according to documents disclosed by Britain's Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper published excerpts of minutes of the BBC's program review board, which quoted one BBC executive as saying that he regarded parts of one episode as "disgusting" and another executive complaining that the program "was continually going over the edge of what was acceptable." Yet another executive reportedly complained that the Python team "seemed to wallow in the sadism of their humor. One other executive, the head of BBC Light Entertainment, reportedly remarked that "it would be sad if the BBC lost the program; the team seemed to have some sort of death wish."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.