LAST-DITCH STAND TO PREVENT MURDOCH'S WSJ TAKEOVER
A key member of the family that owns controlling interest in Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, is making a last-ditch effort to prevent the company from falling into the hands of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the Journal reported today (Monday). According to the newspaper, Christopher Bancroft has been in talks with hedge funds, private-equity firms and others in an effort to persuade them to acquire enough "super" voting shares from other Bancroft family members to prevent the sale from going through. (Shares owned by the family count for ten times the number of votes as ordinary shares.) The Journal quoted a partner with Bancroft in the private-equity firm Beta Capital Group as characterizing the effort as "a real long shot" given its timing, coming as it does as negotiations between Dow Jones and News Corp wind down. The two sides have reportedly agreed on a formula to protect the editorial integrity of the newspaperbut it was still not clear whether the plan would also be applied to a cable business channel that News Corp has said it plans to launch and perhaps name the Wall Street Journal Channel.
IT'S OFFICIAL: PATINKIN RETURNING FOR SINGLE CRIMINAL MINDS EPISODE
Mandy Patinkin will return for a single episode of CBS's Criminal Minds "to wrap up his story," TV Guide Online reported Sunday. It provided no details. Earlier, Ed Bernero, the show's executive producer, refuted rumors that producers had refused to grant Patinkin a raise after the show became a hit. "This is not about money," Bernero said on a fansite for the show. "This is not about something Mr. Patinkin asked for that wasn't provided." In fact, Bernero claimed, Patinkin gave no hint that he was leaving the show until he failed to show up for work on the day before the first episode was scheduled to be shot. "He also has not contacted anyone within the show (producers, cast, crew) to explain why he isn't returning. Even to this moment, we have no word from him," said Bernero. "He gave us no advance notice that anything was wrong, no opportunity to find a way to make the loss of this character work, no indication that we should be looking for someone else, no warning that we might have to rewrite the first seven scripts (which is how far ahead we try to work) without the central character in them. None. Zero."
NBC HOPING THAT WOMEN WILL WATCH FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
NBC is planning to promote Friday Night Lights among women in the hopes of giving the critically praised but low-rated show a lift, USA Today reported today (Monday). Although the show is regarded as appealing to teens and sports fans, "women would like it as much, if not more, than men," executive producer Jason Katims told the newspaper. The series is slated to air on Friday nights next season -- ordinarily a low-rated night, largely because teens are out at the movies (or attending Friday-night football games). According to the newspaper, the high school team featured in the series will remain central to the plots, but game scenes will be shorter.
CBS NEWS TO WITHHOLD NEWS ABOUT WHICH POTTER CHARACTERS DIE
CBS News has decided that, despite the subject's apparent newsworthiness, who lives and who dies in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not be revealed on the CBS evening newscast when the book hits the shelves of bookstores on Saturday. Patricia Shevlin, executive producer of the CBS Evening News Weekend Edition told the CBS blog Public Eye that the program plans to "show the lines, people buying [the book], Pottermania. But we're not going to tell the end." Undoubtedly, however, millions of kids will be grabbing the book (over the weekend, Amazon estimated preorders at two million) and immediately skipping to the final chapters to learn about the fate of their favorite characters, then posting their reactions online -- thereby scooping CBS News in the process.
GIBSON: MOST WATCHED; LEAST PAID
Former Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister, who lost her column, which focused on TV news programs, as part of the newspaper's retrenchment and was recently moved to its metro section, has written a profile for the newspaper of ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, who has led in the evening news ratings for the past 11 weeks. In it, she comments: "If there's one lesson to be learned from the recent tumult on the evening-news landscape, it's this: new and news don't necessarily work together for the over-60 crowd, the bulk of the evening news audience. For all the networks' talk of reinventing the form, evening-news viewers are clearly more comfortable with traditional newscasts anchored by traditional types." Included in her profile of Gibson: "Gibson is old school, to the max. He doesn't carry a BlackBerry -- ABC gave him one, but he couldn't figure out how to use it. He was ordered to carry a cell phone, but he still hasn't mastered the ringer. He's never flown in the Disney jet. To Gibson, news 'is a balance between what people want to know and what they need to know.' ... Gibson is lowest paid of the Big 3 anchors. Couric makes an estimated $15 million a year; Williams more than $10 million. Gibson's salary is estimated at $8 million."
NEW LAW WOULD BAR VIOLENCE ON BROADCAST, CABLE, SATELLITE
West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller plans to introduce legislation before the August Congressional recess that will give the FCC power to regulate TV violence, Broadcasting & Cable reported today (Monday). The new law would apply to both broadcast as well as cable and satellite programming, the trade publication said -- marking the first time that the FCC would be given power to regulate content on cable and satellite. An aide to the senator said that his staff had been carefully formulating a bill that would pass constitutional scrutiny by the courts.