Some writers were saying Monday that a full-scale civil war had erupted among the membership of the Screen Actors Guild over the leadership's decision to ask for a strike authorization before the end of the year. On Monday some 131 members, many of them top Hollywood stars, sent a letter to SAG leaders asking them to cancel the strike authorization vote. Among the group were a number of performers with liberal activist credentials. "We support our union and we support the issues we're fighting for, but we do not believe in all good conscience that now is the time to be putting people out of work," the letter said. It goes on to urge that the remaining issues be put off until the contract comes up for renewal in three years. SAG Executive Director Doug Allen shot back: "The vast majority of those who signed on have not attended informational meetings and have not taken the opportunity to learn the facts." He accused the so-called A-listers of knuckling under to the "rhetoric" of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. At the same time SAG called off an emergency board meeting to address the growing dissension within the union's ranks. Several New York board members who have opposed the strike vote had objected to Allen's insistence that they come to California for a face-to-face meeting. In calling off the meeting, Allen said, "I am disappointed that during these critical times not all of our board members are willing to take the time needed to make real progress on the issues dividing our elected leaders."


CBS was hit by a wave of new layoffs Monday that included CBS Paramount Executive VP Maria Crenna and the studio's comedy head, Brian Banks. Fewer than 50 staffers at CBS Entertainment are believed to have been handed pink slips, all of them in the network's comedy, drama or alternative development units. Daily Variety, citing no sources,reported today (Tuesday) that it was unlikely that any further personnel cuts would occur in the near future.


NBC has sent to its affiliates details of the research it conducted prior to turning over the 10:00 p.m. hour to Jay Leno beginning next fall, the website TVNewser reported on Monday. It told the affiliate managers that the data were intended to "arm your staffs with over the next nine months and beyond." Among the talking points: that the move represents the reinvention of primetime; that Leno will be more "DVR-proof" than scripted shows; and that the move does not "reduce NBC's commitment to scripted programs." Oddly, TVNewser observed, the research did not indicate how the move would help the affiliates' 11:00 p.m. newscasts. However, in an interview with today's (Tuesday) New York Times, Leno acknowledged that the second half of his show -- until now, the weaker half -- will be strengthened. "We want to provide as strong a lead-in as we can," he said.


Vudu, the company that was one of the first to begin streaming high-definition content to television sets via a broadband-connected settop box, said today that it will be bringing more than 120 "channels" of web-based content and applications to home-theaters. In a statement, the company said that beginning today (Tuesday), all Vudu owners will be able to access games, Flickr, Picasa, and the entire YouTube library via their TV sets. They will also have on-demand access to such shows as NBC's Today,MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, and MTV News.