NEWS FOR THE SAKE OF ENTERTAINMENT?

NBC is being taken to task for its decision to reconstruct the Golden Globe Awards show on Sunday as a news event that will include a two-hour Dateline documentary in which Matt Lauer will interview the nominees and a one-hour news conference during which the winners will be announced. Several former and current TV news correspondents depicted the night-long affair as an effort by the network's entertainment division to co-opt news programming. Former CBS and CNN correspondent Deborah Potter told the Los Angeles Times: "It's pretty clear there isn't much of a firewall between news and sales anymore, but my goodness, you don't want to bulldoze it." A former NBC News producer who did not want to be named told the newspaper, "Nobody believes the news division made the decision to carry it. ... It's serving the entertainment division's purpose. ... This is the way principles get chipped away, bit by bit." The Times said that the decision to move the Golden Globes from entertainment to news "was made at the highest levels of NBC Universal, in discussions led by CEO Jeff Zucker."

NBC EXPANDS NIGHTLY NEWS -- ON THE WEB

In an effort to make available more produced news material than ordinarily makes the cut for its nightly newscast, NBC News has announced plans to launch a new website Wednesday that will provide longer versions of stories and interviews seen on the TV broadcast as well as features that did not get on the newscast at all. The website will also sport a new video player providing bigger pictures and higher-quality video than previously, the network said. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable Alex Wallace, executive producer of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, said, "Hopefully, it will give us the ability in a visual and video-centric way to show you that NBC does have a lot more going on than you get in 22 minutes on Nightly." Wallace also said that she hopes to increase overseas coverage by putting it on the website.

RATHER TO BEGIN "DISCOVERY" IN CBS SUIT

Dan Rather said Wednesday that he was pleased with a New York judge's decision to allow pretrial discovery to continue while the judge decides whether to allow Rather's $70-million lawsuit against CBS to proceed. "Allowing the case to go forward with discovery will put us on the road to finding out what really happened involving big corporations and powerful interests in Washington and their intrusions into newsrooms, which is the reason I'm here," Rather told the Associated Press. "That is the red, beating heart of this case." The former CBS News anchor has said in the past that his lawsuit against CBS has less to do with the money than in shining a light on how outside interests intrude into the newsroom.

GOLF CHANNEL ANCHOR SUSPENDED FOR "OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE"

Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman was suspended for two weeks Wednesday for quipping that the only way for young players to overtake Tiger Woods would be to "lynch him in a back alley." Although she and analyst Nick Faldo were laughing during the exchange in which the remark was made at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, video of it posted on the Internet and aired on CNN Headline News drew widespread criticism. The Rev. Al Sharpton declared that Tilghman ought to be fired immediately. "What she said is racist," he told CNN. (Tiger Woods' agent told the Association Press that he didn't think there was any ill intent.) In a statement, Golf Channel said, "There is simply no place on our network for offensive language like this."

COORS STAGES VIDEO CONTEST -- MANY RULES

The difficulties an advertising agency encounters in producing commercials for beer companies were illustrated in a New York Times article today (Thursday) about a contest being staged by Coors Brewing Co. in which consumers are being encouraged to submit video clips for a chance to win Super Bowl tickets. Contest rules, the Times observed, prohibit: any depiction of of Santa Claus because he appeals to those under the drinking age of 21; any famous person; references to football teams, players, coaches or owners; political themes; depictions of drinking while driving; drinking games; drinking excessively; religious references; gambling; explicit sexual activity; violence; any other beer brands; and dangerous situations. Commented Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott: "Such is the price of a beer brand getting into user-generated content."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.