BBC TO AIR PHIL SPECTOR INTERVIEW

The BBC has landed an interview with Phil Spector, the music producer and accused murderer, which is due to air in April. Speaking to London's Sunday Observer, Vikram Jayanti, who directed the documentary, said, "An interview with Spector has been the Holy Grail for arts documentary makers for many years and I think he agreed to speak to us because he felt that we were inspired by a sense of empathy, though not of sympathy. We intend no disrespect to the dead woman. The whole thing was clearly tragic." The dead woman is actress Lana Clarkson, whom Spector is accused of shooting. He is due to be retried on the charge in September.

DION SPECIAL TOPS ON FRIDAY NIGHT

It's not often that a network musical-variety show winds up at the top of the ratings, but CBS's Celine Dion special, That's Just the Woman in Me did just that Friday night. Nevertheless, the ratings were hardly anything for the network to boast about, as viewers -- particularly young adults -- continued to desert their television sets on Friday nights. The Dion special drew a 5.2 rating and a 9 share in the 9:00 hour, not much better than NBC's game show 1 vs. 100 did an hour hour earlier when it registered a 5.1/9. Two back-to-back episodes of NBC's Las Vegas at 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. also drew an almost identical 5.0/9 and 5.1/9 respectively. In fact, two reruns of Fox's House turned out to be the real winners of the night among adults 18-49, even though they averaged just a 4.3/8 in overall households.

CLEAR CHANNEL HITS "BUYER'S REMORSE"

Clear Channel Communications has sued Newport Television, a unit of private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, accusing it of trying to walk away from a $1.2-billion deal to buy its 56 television stations. (It is separately selling its radio stations to Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital for $19.5 billion.) In a filing in Delaware Chancery Court, Clear Channel said that after agreeing on the deal, Newport informed it that it was experiencing "buyers remorse," In a statement, Andrew Cole, a spokesman for Providence, said that the group was "surprised and disappointed" by Clear Channel's suit, which came "as we were trying to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement in difficult market conditions."

COUPONS FOR DIGITAL CONVERTERS ARE IN THE MAIL

The FCC says that it will begin mailing out $40 coupons this week to help owners of analog TV sets who still receive programs over the air buy converter boxes so that they will be able to receive digital signals. The boxes will be available in nearly 10,000 stores, including most of the "big box" warehouse outlets like Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Best Buy for $40-70. Some consumer groups have expressed concern, however, that digital signals may not travel as far as analog ones and that the settop converter boxes will therefore be useless in some areas when the mandated switchover to digital occurs next year.

NEW TV SETS TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET

New television sets being manufactured this year are being equipped with outlets that will allow users to connect the sets directly to the Internet, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). The connectors will eventually allow them to receive television shows on demand, as well as weather forecasts, stock quotes, and YouTube videos, the newspaper noted. George Kliavkoff, NBC Universal's chief digital officer, told the Times that while most consumers have shied away from additional set-top boxes for such programming, a connection built into the TV set is likely to have a chance. "It brings the ability to have unlimited channel capacity, personalized channels -- a celestial video jukebox in the sky," he said. David Eun, Google's vice president of content partnerships, added, "This is about making content accessible to as many viewers as possible."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.