TV STATIONS NOT PAYING THEIR BILLS
CBS's syndication unit sent out a clear signal to its customers Monday that, regardless of the economic challenges local stations are facing, it still expects to be paid for the programming it provides them. CBS Television Distribution said that it had filed a $5 million lawsuit against Global Broadcasting, owner of WLNE Providence, an ABC affiliate, alleging that it had not paid license fees on Dr. Phil, Inside Edition, Rachael Ray, The Insider and Entertainment Tonight. In its report about the suit, Broadcasting & Cable magazine quoted one syndication salesman as saying that he's become mostly a debt collector over the past year. "It's funny, in the past your biggest concern was always getting your stuff sold for the best deal," he told B&C. "But these days you have to be almost equally worried about getting paid for the deals you've already booked if more places go bankrupt."
WILL AMERICA'S GOT TALENT DISCOVER ITS OWN SUSAN BOYLE?
With America's Got Talent returning to the air tonight (Tuesday), producers are assuring viewers that they are not going out of their way to discover an American Susan Boyle. In an interview with USA Today, executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said, "The worst thing we could do is find our own version. The more you try to engineer it, the less you achieve on the desired outcome." Piers Morgan, who appears as a judge on both the British and American versions of the show, added, "We didn't want to fall into the trap of looking at every middle-aged woman as the next Susan Boyle. That would be pointless. ... With Susan, it was a moment of total surprise and electricity." But new host Nick Cannon said that Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent did seem to widen the range of talent who showed up at U.S. auditions. "We definitely saw a lot more people coming to audition who'd been told they would never make it, either because of their look or they didn't fit the mold. ... People felt if [Boyle] can do it, they can."
GOSSELINS TO DIVORCE, BUT THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Jon and Kate Gosselin, the stars of the TLC reality TV show Jon & Kate Plus 8, may be getting a divorce, but the show about them will go on. The divorce revelation came about 40 minutes into Monday night's show. Providing a sort of stability for the production team -- as well as the Gosselins' eight children -- the show will continue to be taped at the their home in Berks County, PA with Jon and Kate each taking one-week turns living with them. At one point during Monday night's episode, Kate Gosselin remarked, "The show must go on. ... We can't go back now. We can only go forward." On his blog, Baltimore Sun TV columnist David Zurawik commented: "I wonder if [viewers] feel exploited by TLC selling ads and making millions of dollars out of a show announcing a divorce that will not only leave eight kids with a shattered family -- but a video record of their family coming undone that will define them for the rest of their lives. I'm done with this sick carnival side show. How about you? It is now clear that the only way to make it stop is to quit watching."
WILL IRANIAN VIDEO OF WOMAN'S DEATH MARK A TURNING POINT?
The video of the young Iranian woman bleeding to death after being shot during a demonstration in Tehran has raised the weightiness of "citizen journalism" in the age of the Internet, several publications observed Monday. The video of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan was taken by a bystander, who emailed it to a friend, who in turn forwarded it to the Voice of America, Britain's Guardian newspaper, and five friends in Europe, along with the message, "Please let the world know." One of those friends posted it online and it was soon televised by CNN. Today's (Tuesday) New York Times commented: "Despite a prolonged effort by Iran's government to keep a media lid on the violent events unfolding on the streets, Ms. Agha-Soltan was transformed on the Web from a nameless victim into an icon of the Iranian protest movement." Since then, the newspaper reported, "taking pictures is an increasingly dangerous act in Iran." It noted that police confronted citizens who were trying to take pictures during a memorial to the young victim on Monday.
ED MCMAHON, CARSON'S SIDEKICK, DEAD AT 86
Ed McMahon, best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick on NBC's Tonight show ("And now h-e-e-e-e-e-ere's Johnny!"), died early today (Tuesday) in Los Angeles at age 86. The cause of death was not disclosed, but his publicist, Howard Bragman, said that McMahon had a "multitude of health problems the last few months." The Associated Press, quoting a source close to McMahon, said that he had been battling bone cancer and had been hospitalized for several weeks.