PRODUCER WHO BILKED VICTIMS OF $MILLIONS GIVEN LIGHT SENTENCE

Victims of a man who claimed to be a TV producer looking for funds to develop a TV series based on the workings of the Department of Homeland Security expressed shock Monday when he was given an even lighter sentence than the one his attorneys had requested. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real sentenced Joseph Medawar to only one year and a day in prison, even though he had swindled dozens of victims out of millions of dollars. One investor, Manuel Lozano, told the Los Angeles Times,"I was looking for justice. ... I was expecting more." Medawar admitted last May that his TV idea was a scam and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and income tax evasion. He had reportedly used the millions of dollars from at least 70 investors to buy luxury cars, jewelry, and to pay rent on a $40,000-a-month mansion for the TV show's star, Alison Heruth-Waterbury.

BALTIMORE TV STATION AIRS SPOOF AS ACTUAL NEWS

The news staff at a Baltimore TV station was left with egg on its collective face when the station broadcast -- at least twice on Monday -- a report that Michael Richards had appeared in blackface at a celebrity roast for Whoopi Goldberg over the weekend. The staff of WJZ-TV, a CBS affiliate, had picked up the report from DatelineHollywood.com, apparently unaware that all of its reports are intended to be satirical. The Baltimore Sun reported that the story about Richards, who was propelled into the news when he shouted racial epithets at patrons at a West Hollywood comedy club last month, was presented "in breaking news style" by the program's news anchor, Sally Thorner. The DatelineHollywood story also reported that Richards "took out a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup and poured it over Whoopi's head," and then began singing "Mammy." News director Gail Bending told the Sun that the report "should not have aired" and that the station would broadcast a correction. In 1993 Goldberg caused an uproar at a Friars' Club roast when she wrote a routine for her then-boyfriend Ted Danson that he delivered in blackface.

FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL GETS TRYOUT ON YAHOO!

Fox News, which is planning to launch a business cable channel next year, is apparently getting its feet wet with a deal with Yahoo!. The two companies on Monday launched a partnership under which Fox News will provide nine original two-minute market reports that will be available via Yahoo! Finance and FoxNews.com. Fox News will also provide Yahoo! with clips from its regular news programming relating to business, investment, and personal finance. Meanwhile, the NBC Universal-owned business cable outlet CNBC relaunched its website on Monday featuring more video and live programming. In a statement, the channel said that the website now "features an unprecedented amount of business videos_available streaming live, on-demand and thoroughly integrated throughout the site." Also on Monday, Yahoo! and Reuters said that they planned to expand their online operations by inviting people who have used their video cell phones to photograph news events to upload them to the Yahoo! and Reuters websites.

SYLER TO MAKE EARLY EXIT FROM EARLY SHOW

Rene Syler has told a website that focuses on the work of minority journalists that she is being removed from her anchor duties on CBS's The Early Show at the end of the year "because I was told they are moving in another direction." The official CBS announcement had said that Syler was leaving "to pursue other media opportunities." Syler joined the perpetually third-rated morning show in October 2002.

ROCK PUBLICIST RONNIE LIPPIN DIES AT AGE 59

Veteran publicist Ronnie Lippin, who managed to gain TV exposure for her famous rock clients long after network TV ceased to be a viable venue for most of them, has died in Los Angeles at age 59 after a long battle with breast cancer. Over a career dating back to the early '70s, Lippin represented such musicians as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Prince, Eric Clapton, the Bee Gees, Elton John, The Who, James Taylor, Olivia Newton-John, Peter Frampton, and Steven Stills.

Brian B.