REPORT: IDOL WITHOUT PAULA A POSSIBILITY

Remarks by David Sonenberg, Paula Abdul's manager, that she may not return for another season of American Idol may not be merely a negotiating ploy after all, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today (Tuesday). Citing a source who has worked on the show almost from the beginning, Bill Zwecker, the newspaper's TV columnist said that while many of the talent show's principals, including Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest, are not keen to keep her, key Fox executives and Idol producers want to renew her contract. "There is some strong sentiment that Paula is a draw for the show -- despite all the problems she causes behind the scenes," the source told Zwecker. Meanwhile, RadarOnline reported that Abdul is asking for a $20-million deal to return to Idol.

THE WANTED: SCORNED BY CRITICS, SNUBBED BY VIEWERS

NBC's The Wanted , which debuted Monday night, faced a new barrage of criticism today (Tuesday) after it was disclosed that co-producer Adam Ciralsky had been fired by the CIA in 1998 for failing to disclose ties with Israel (he has sued the agency, claiming that he was the victim of anti-Semitism), that the alleged Muslim terrorist who on the show is followed and tracked down in Norway has willingly and openly given numerous interviews in the past to Western reporters, and the only Norwegian lawmakers interviewed for the program are members of the country's far-right Progress Party, which has an anti-immigration agenda. In today's Hartford Courant, TV columnist Roger Catlin comments, "The Wanted not only fails as hokey reality-style entertainment, it doesn't come close to journalism (except maybe as imagined by kicked-out CIA agents). It may also be recklessly damaging to the U.S. diplomatic mission." In the Baltimore Sun, columnist David Zurawik calls the program "an embarrassment." He writes that after watching it "I could not help but wonder if there is anyone left in management at NBC News who still has a journalistic bone in her or his body." He goes on: "I have seen a lot of wretched hybrids of TV news and entertainment [over] the last 25 years, but I am hard pressed to remember one as silly, self-important and journalistically out to lunch as this." (In the end, the program turned out to be a ratings dud as it drew just 3 million viewers, making it the lowest-rated program of the night.)

GIBSON: NEWS SHOULD PROVIDE WHAT VIEWERS NEED TO KNOW, NOT WANT TO KNOW

Interviewed by today's (Tuesday) New Orleans Times-Picayune about the death of Walter Cronkite, ABC News's Charles Gibson has lamented the current state of television news. "The distressing thing to me is the number of people who come into this business because they want to be on television ... and the news is kind of secondary," Gibson said in a telephone interview from New York. "With Walter, it was absolutely the other way around." The World News anchor indicated that the personality and appeal issues are "basically the thing we argue about here every day. ... We're not unaware of the ratings imperatives that exist, but basically it's about, 'What do you need to know today?' not, 'What do you want to know today?' ... Cronkite, on that sort of continuum of want to know/need to know, was way over on that need-to-know end, and I applaud him for it. We were lucky that he was the person who came first." In a related matter, CBS said Monday that Cronkite's recorded introduction to Katie Couric's newscast each night will continue.

AT NBC'S REQUEST, WHITE HOUSE RESCHEDULES OBAMA NEWS CONFERENCE

The White House on Monday shifted President Obama's planned primetime news conference on Wednesday from 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. after NBC indicated that it would not carry it live since it would have had to preempt America's Got Talent, the most popular show of the summer. (It is planning to air an interview with Susan Boyle, the runner-up on Britain's Got Talent, on Wednesday. The interview, with Meredith Vieira, co-host of the Today show, is expected to boost the show's ratings, which have fallen slightly since last year.) The time change did not alter Fox's determination not to carry the news conference live. It airs its two-hour So You Think You Can Dance on Wednesday nights. It noted that the news conference would be carried by its cable news channel, the Fox News Network.