TALENT CONTESTS COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER

The reality contests America's Got Talent on NBC and So You Think You Can Dance of Fox ran neck-and-neck races Wednesday night with Talent winning by a nose among overall viewers in the ratings and Dance, among adults 18-49. Unfortunately for NBC, its The Philanthropist, which drew solid ratings last week and finished in the top ten, saw viewers depart in droves. The series wound up with 5.72 million viewers, down from 7.42 million a week ago.

ONE COMPANY SENDS JACKSON REPORTS TO THE WORLD

On Call Communications, a satellite communications service that charges television stations only $150 for a 15-minute live remote, was able to allow stations from around the world to cover the death of Michael Jackson, it said Wednesday. The company said that it assisted news organizations from such countries as Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the United Kingdom to send reports from their Los Angeles-based reporters who had gathered at Jackson's residence. The feeds were delivered to stations via Intelsat's global network of satellites. In a statement, Intelsat exec Ron Rosenthal said, "On Call Communications, with their QuickSpot IP/SNG system, were able to provide the rapid response and be on site within hours."

HELEN THOMAS ACCUSES OBAMA OF TRYING TO MANAGE THE PRESS

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, 88, who was ignored by President Bush and relegated to the rear of the White House briefing room during his administration, lashed out at the Obama administration for what she called "a pattern of controlling the press." During a briefing on Wednesday with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Thomas said that even "Nixon didn't try to do that. ... What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" She objected to Obama's decision to invite a writer from the Huffington Post to ask him a question sent in from a citizen in Iran. She interrupted when Gibbs promised CBS News correspondent Chip Reid that he would "interrupt" the tradition of allowing the Associated Press to ask the first question and let Reid ask him on Thursday about the questions raised by the audience at Wednesday's town hall meeting in Annandale, VA. Thomas charged that Gibbs was openly attempting to manage the news. "I'm not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to a fare-thee-well--for the town halls, for the press conferences," she said. "It's blatant. ... They ought to be hanging their heads in shame."

AMID CUTBACKS AT FOX, CAREY TO EARN MILLIONS

Chase Carey,who officially replaced Peter Chernin as president and COO of News Corp Wednesday, could earn up to $43.1 million in salary and bonuses during his first year with the company, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Thursday). According to the newspaper, which cited an SEC filing, Carey will receive a base salary of $8.1 million a year under his five-year contract, plus $10 million for signing. He's also eligible for an annual bonus tied to the company's performance, which could amount to as much as $25 million.

OSCAR-WINNER KARL MALDEN DEAD AT 97

Karl Malden, best known for his co-starring role (with Michael Douglas) in the 1970s series Streets of San Francisco but who appeared in more than 50 motion pictures as well has died in Los Angeles at age 97. He won the best supporting actor Oscar in 1951 for his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, and he was nominated three years later for his role as a priest in On the Waterfront. He received five Emmy nominations for his work on Streets of San Francisco and won one for his performance in the 1985 miniseries Fatal Vision. Only last month he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in ceremonies to be aired on the TV Land channel on July 19.