MORE TRIBULATIONS FOR TRIBUNE
Despite making massive cutbacks including laying off hundreds of employees, and selling off assets, Tribune Company is reportedly exploring a bankruptcy filing. According to reports appearing in today's (Monday) New York Times and Wall Street Journal, profits at the newspaper and broadcasting empire may not be sufficient to cover interest on the company's $12-billion debt, incurred from real estate mogul Sam Zell's leveraged buyout a year ago. The Times suggested that Zell's decision to hire a team of bankruptcy advisers could be regarded as a "just-in-case move" or a tactic for bargaining with lenders. The newspaper also indicated that the major issue may not concern Tribune's ability to make its debt payments but complying with a requirement that its debt not exceed nine times its operating cash flow (EBITDA). In its own report on the apparent financial crunch, the Chicago Tribune quoted a company spokesperson as saying, "It's an uncertain and difficult environment. ... We're looking at all of our options." Tribune owns 23 TV stations and 12 newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
GREGORY MEETS THE PRESS
Making official what many regarded as one of the worst-kept secrets in recent broadcasting history, NBC News announced Sunday that David Gregory will become the next moderator of Meet the Press. In a statement that referred to the death of former MTP host Tim Russert last June at age 58, NBC News President Steve Capus said, "We lost a legend this summer, and today we hand the program over to someone who has a true appreciation and respect for the Meet the Press legacy, and a keen sense of what it needs to be in the future." Gregory was introduced by the show's interim anchor, Tom Brokaw, who told him, "I really encourage you to reach out to your generation and get fresh new voices out there, because it's a very impressive crowd of young journalists who are coming of age." Gregory himself told the TVNewser website, "I feel appropriately nervous and humbled I don't know anybody who wouldn't feel that way."
NBC EVEN LOSING FOOTBALL FANS
Television viewers apparently had their fill of football by the time NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast began Sunday night. The Washington-Baltimore match-up attracted 12.56 million viewers, according to overnight Nielsen's -- somewhat below average. The figure was almost half what Fox registered earlier in the evening for its NFL overrun -- 23.45 million. A Hallmark Hall of Fame special, "Front of the Class," competed strongly with the game. Although the drama averaged 11 million viewers during its first hour on Sunday, the ratings climbed with each half hour, peaking with 12.75 million AT 10:30 p.m. for fourth place.
SIMPSON OFF TO PRISON, RELEASES DVD
On Friday, the very day that O.J. Simpson was sentenced to 15 years in prison for burglary and kidnapping, the Los Angeles-based Xtreme Entertainment Group announced that it is distributing "the new, exclusive, action-packed, controversial and totally uncensored DVD, Juiced," starring Simpson. In it, the company's press released stated Simpson performs "jaw-dropping hidden-camera stunts and outrageous practical jokes ... on unsuspecting real-life people all across America." Providing a preview of the DVD, the release says: "Witness O.J. Simpson caught 'cheating' with another man's fiancee in a seedy motel before a confrontation ensues, resulting in a heart- pounding domestic disturbance that will leave you breathless! ... O.J. even stars in 'Pimp Juice' as a 'gangsta' rapper holding ruthless auditions for his new hit song 'Get Juiced' at a sex-crazed strip club." The company has posted preview scenes at www.GetJuiced.com.