JAY & CONAN TO RETURN TO WORK -- SANS WRITERS
To the howls of striking writers, NBC announced Monday that the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien will return to the air on January 2. Leno and O'Brien will probably perform without their usual opening monologues, which are ordinarily written by staff writers. However, in a conference call with reporters on Monday Tonight show executive producer Debbie Vickers said "I would like to not rule that out." Both are members of the Writers Guild of America themselves and both were immediately denounced as scabs by writers who posted vehement denunciations of the two on strike-related blogs. However, one writer on Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood blog commented, "Before we go too far in denouncing Jay and Conan as scabs, we need to see the shows. If they're willing to let the shows suck without scripted material, they're playing the game reasonably." Both hosts attributed their decision to return to the air to concern for staff members who had been laid off because of the strike -- to which the writers responded, "We didn't lay them off." Officially the guild itself said, "NBC forcing Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien back on the air without writers is not going to provide the quality entertainment that the public deserves." The two shows may have to do not only without monologues but also celebrity guests who may refuse to cross picket lines in order to appear on thm.
WRITING OFF THE GLOBES, OSCARS?
The Writers Guild of America has rejected requests for waivers from the producers of the Golden Globes and Oscars ceremonies to allow them to use writers and clips from movies and TV shows for the premier awards events of the year. Such waivers, the guild said, would not advance its cause in dealing with the studios and networks. Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globes telecast had asked for waivers allowing it to use writers on the telecast. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences had only asked for permission to use the clips but has not yet requested waivers to use writers. However, it seemed doubtful that the WGA would allow one of the groups to use writers and not allow the other to do so. (The Associated Press, citing a source close to the guild, reported late Monday that the WGA has decided not to give the academy an interim agreement for writing services.)
HBO SETS PAY-PER-VIEW RECORD
HBO's pay-per-view telecast on December 8 of the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton welterweight championship fight produced $47 million in revenue, helping to set a record for the year for the Time Warner pay-TV network. Some 850,000 buys were recorded for the telecast raising the total number of buys for the year to a record 4.8 million representing $255 million in pay-per-view revenue. The figure far surpasses the previous record of 4 million buys and $200 million in revenue set in 1999.
EDITOR OF CBS BLOG FIRED AS PART OF RESTRUCTURE
Matthew Felling, who joined CBSNews.com as co-editor of its Public Eye blog last May and became sole editor in September, has been fired, a victim of the news division's recent decision to restructure its interactive units. Although he posted no farewell message on the Public Eye blog, he sent word by email to colleagues Monday that he was following Mark Twain's advice to "write while angry and disappointed but edit with a bit of remove." He added that while he had spent the weekend "simmering" he now wishes merely to say that he is "looking forward to a new challenge and a new opportunity."
MICHAEL DOUGLAS -- NEW ANNOUNCER FOR NIGHTLY NEWS
With little fanfare except for the one that accompanies his voice, Michael Douglas became the new announcer of NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams Monday night. "A word about the new voice you heard at the top of the broadcast tonight," Williams remarked at the close of Monday night's newscast. "Yes, that is ... the great Michael Douglas, actor, producer, and Academy Award winner. Michael replaces the recording of the great Howard Reig, the voice of Nightly News for decades. Howard retired two years ago. ... But starting tonight, and hereafter, we welcome Michael Douglas as a rather prominent new member of the NBC News family." NBC did not immediately issue a news release about how the decision to replace Reig with Douglas was reached and comes as somewhat of surprise given the network's strenuous efforts to avoid accusations of bias. Douglas is a heavy contributor to the Democratic party, and he regularly narrates films about social and political issues, such as U.N. documentaries about Sierra Leone and disarmament.
FIRST EXPLOSION AT FOX NEWS HQ, THEN EXPLOSIVE WORDS
A small chemical explosion occurred in the building that houses the studios of Fox News Monday, injuring one person who was not connected to the cable news network. A fire spokesman blamed the explosion on "some sort of reaction between two chemicals." The explosion touched off many virulent comments on Internet blogs that frequently criticize the News Corp network, some of them collected by the website Johnny Dollar's Place. Among them: "Who among us would have wept if Fox News HQ had been blown up? I can honestly say I wouldn't've." "We could only wish. Those hate-filled bigots should be taken off the air ASAP!" "Too bad the entire building wasn't taken out." "Burnt to a crisp would be ideal." "Blow up the whole f****** building."