DISNEY LAUNCHING A BOYS' CHANNEL
Saying that it plans to focus on "tween" and younger boys but include girls, the Walt Disney Company on Thursday announced the creation of Disney XD, which will combine a cable channel offering sports and action programing with a website offering games, music and social networking. Until now, much of Disney's specialized cable programming for the 6-14-year-old set has been aimed principally at girls, with such shows as Hannah Montana, Kim Possible, the High School Musical specials, and the upcoming Jonas Brothers series. And just as Hannah Montana features a character who lives a double life as an ordinary teen and a famous rock star, Disney XD has a show in production called Aaron Stone about a boy who leads a double life as a crime fighter.
MORE VIEWERS WATCHING TV SHOWS ON LINE
A new study indicates that 21 percent of Internet users between the ages of 13 and 54 watch full episodes of TV programs online via streaming video. The percentage is more than twice what it was in 2006, the study said. The study, "How People Use TV's Web Connections," from The Home Technology Monitor revealed that 87 percent of those watching TV shows online do so because they want to watch a current episode that they missed; 48 percent said that they watch older or prior-season episodes. In a statement, David Tice, vice president of client services at Knowledge Networks, said, "Among streamers, there is no shortage of demand for TV network content, and Internet availability of full episodes increases their appetite for both online and traditional viewing of programs,"
IDOL FINALIST BOOTED
Twenty-three-year-old Joanna Pacitti has been axed from American Idol's Top 36 finalists only hours after they were announced. No reason was immediately announced, and at first reporters speculated that her ouster may have been related to the fact that she had performed professionally in the past and once had been signed to a recording contract with Geffen Records. However, the gossip tabloid Star said that Pacitti's "close association" with executives of Idol's production company, 19 Entertainment, was regarded as a conflict of interest and threatened to compromise the impartiality of the contest.
OCTUPLET MOM FUELS MEDIA CONTROVERSY
Ordinarily the mothers of multiple-birth children are showered with admiration, gifts, endorsement offers, and publicity. Nadya Suleman, the woman who recently gave birth to octuplets, may be receiving plenty of publicity, but little of the rest. In fact, a publicist representing the mother said in a radio interview Thursday that a website set up to solicit donations has also been receiving angry messages from people incensed that Suleman, who now has 14 children, has been collecting public-assistance funds for them. The publicist said that Suleman has even been receiving death threats. Meanwhile, several sources said that Suleman had been demanding $1.2 million for an exclusive interview following the babies' birth and that while Oprah Winfrey's representative walked out of a meeting when that figure came up, NBC remained. (The interview was eventually conducted by Ann Curry and broadcast on Dateline and the Today show.) NBC has denied that it paid for the interview, but a new controversy erupted Thursday after reports appeared that ABC, through the website RadarOnline, paid Suleman's mother $40,000 for an interview in which she chastised her daughter for becoming pregnant without the means to support her children. ABC insists it merely paid a "nominal fee" to license ABC's footage.
GLAAD HAILS LESBIAN MARRIAGE ON ABC SOAP
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has saluted ABC and the producers of the 39-year-old soap opera All My Children for an episode due to air Monday featuring the first marriage of a lesbian couple on scripted daytime television. In a statement, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano called the episode "a milestone in daytime drama." This week, the lesbian characters, Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams, played by Eden Riegel and Tamara Braun, traveled from the fictional town of Pine Valley, PA to the state of Connecticut, where gay and lesbian marriage is legal. "I was so honored when they called and asked me to be a part of this and do the first lesbian wedding in daytime," Braun said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, scheduled to air tonight (Friday). "It means so much to me that we tell this story, and we tell an honest story with heart and integrity about two people who are in love and struggle with the same things that heterosexual couples struggle with."
MOST PIRATED NETWORK: UNIVISION
Spanish-language Univision is the most-pirated U.S. broadcast network on YouTube, according to TubeMogul, which monitors network usage on the video website. TubeMogul said Thursday that Univision shows have been pirated 583.75 million times. That compares with 289.07 million times for Fox, 260.30 million for ABC, 127.33 million for CBS and 120.89 million for NBC. (NBC makes the most determined effort of any network to keep clips of its shows off YouTube.) David Burch, TubeMogul's marketing manager, told Advertising Age that much of the Univision program viewing can be attributed to the telenovela Cuidado con el Angel. "If you remove the show, Univision would be the third-most-pirated network, below Fox and ABC," he said.