RATING THE VNU BLOODBATH
What started as a trickle of high-profile editorial firings at The Hollywood Reporter last week will expand to a flood of 4,000 layoffs at Netherlands-based VNU, company CEO David Calhoun indicated Monday. The massive firings are intended to reduce costs by 10 percent (the 4,000 layoffs represent about 10 percent of VNU employees). Many of the personnel cuts will affect employees of Nielsen Media Research, which issues the daily ratings reports of U.S. TV stations. However, the company said, savings from the cuts will be used to develop new initiatives at Nielsen.
PARENTS TV COUNCIL FILES BRIEF IN INDECENCY CASE
Brent Bozell's Parents Television Council, which single-handedly generated virtually all of the indecency complaints that led to the FCC's recent content crackdown, has filed an amicus brief with a New York federal court asking it to uphold the FCC's actions. Responding to claims by the networks that the commission was reacting to a coordinated campaign representing a relatively small group of religious activists most of whom had never seen the incidents of alleged indecency, the PTC brief said, "The critical fact is that each complaint comes from a real person...who is concerned about broadcast decency and wants the law enforced." Meanwhile, C-SPAN has announced that it will provide live coverage of the oral arguments in the case beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Dec. 20
DAY BREAK SEES LIGHT OF DAY ON INTERNET
Fans of ABC's Day Break -- few as they turned out to be -- will at least be able to follow the storyline through to its conclusion, when the network yanks it from its schedule this week and moves the unaired episodes to its website. In fact, ABC said that new episodes will become available online at the same time they would normally have aired -- at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. Meanwhile, several publications, citing industry rumors, said that ABC is speeding up production of Lost to get the drama back on the air ASAP. In the meantime, the time period will feature reruns of George Lopez and According to Jim.
WERE REGAN'S REMARKS ANTI-SEMITIC?
News Corp has released notes of a conversation between Judith Regan and HarperCollins attorney Mark Jackson, which the company says, resulted in her dismissal. According to the notes, Regan, discussing the company's decision to abandon the O.J. Simpson book and TV deal and the possibility that it would also quash a forthcoming "fictional biography" about Mickey Mantle, remarked that she had been the victim of a "Jewish cabal" who included HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman, Executive Editor David Hirshey and literary agent Esther Newberg. She allegedly went on to complain that she had received no support from any of them during the Simpson controversy. "Of all people, the Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie," Regan reportedly said. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times, Regan attorney Bert Fields acknowledged that Regan had used the term "cabal" but denied she had said "Jewish cabal." As for her additional remark, Fields said, "I'm Jewish, and that statement to me seems in no way anti-Semitic."
X FACTOR PRODUCES RECORD RATINGS IN U.K.
The season finale of Simon Cowell's latest TV talent contest, The X Factor, attracted a record-breaking 44 percent of the British TV audience on Saturday, according to ITV, the commercial TV network that carried it. The contest, won by Leona Lewis of London, an office worker, reportedly delivered 12.6 million viewers, topping the 9.3 million for last season's finale. ITV said that 8 million viewers cast votes by phone. (Lewis's performance was quickly posted on YouTube.com.) The program was reportedly scheduled in such a way as to allow Cowell to resume, after a brief break, his role as a judge on Fox's American Idol next month.
JOSEPH BARBERA OF HANNA-BARBERA FAME IS DEAD AT 95
Legendary animator Joseph Barbera, who with the late Bill Hanna, created the famed Hanna-Barbera animation studios, died Monday in Studio City, CA at age 95. Among numerous firsts, Hanna-Barbera created The Flintstones, the first primetime animated TV series. They also created Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, which lasted 17 seasons, the longest-running animated series in TV history. Their library of TV shows eventually became the foundation of Turner Broadcasting's The Cartoon Network.