TV protesters have won the battle of Jericho. The apocalyptic program, which had been canceled by CBS, was suddenly revived Wednesday, with CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler saying in a letter to the show's supporters, posted on its website: "Wow! Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. ... You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard." Tassler said that at least seven more episodes of the series have been ordered. However, she cautioned, "For there to be more Jericho, we will need more viewers." Protesters had complained that the new show, which had received much critical praise, had been unable to attract a substantial audience after it returned from a three-month hiatus and was programmed opposite Fox's steamroller, American Idol. CBS did not announce a date for the show's return.
AILES' REMARKS IGNITE NEW FURORE OVER FOX NEWS
Fox News chief Roger Ailes touched off a new uproar over the cable news channel Wednesday night when he derided Democratic presidential candidates who have refused to appear in a debate sponsored by the channel. Emceeing a journalism awards ceremony in New York, Ailes remarked, "The candidates that can't face Fox, can't face al-Qaeda, and that's what's coming." The New York Observer, which covered the affair, said that Ailes's remark was followed by applause from the crowd, which included several News Corp executives and journalists. Early today, a Fox News spokesperson told the TVNewser website, "Mr. Ailes was repeating a comment made to him by many friends of his who are Democrats and are disappointed that their party is not currently debating on Fox."
MURDOCH PROMISES NOT TO INTERFERE WITH WALL ST. JOURNAL
Rupert Murdoch has vowed to maintain a hands-off policy if he gains control of the Wall Street Journal. In a lengthy interview appearing in today's (Thursday) edition of the newspaper, Murdoch was asked how he would react to stories about his other media interests appearing in the Journal that he did not like. "Would you expect to be informed about what we're writing?" he was asked. "No," Murdoch replied. "I'd complain like hell if they were incorrect. I would imagine I'd know because you would have been questioning me like you are now. But you'd have to run what you like." When the Journal reporter noted that if the paper ran a story about rival Viacom, say, "there would be a perception" that Murdoch was behind it, the media mogul replied, "I tell you if you do a story about Viacom, I'll have ... [Chairman Sumner Redstone] on the phone for two days running. But I won't even tell you about it." Murdoch also insisted that he would not use the newspaper to promote the launch of his planned cable-TV business channel, although, he said, "I would imagine that the launching of a major news channel would get noted."
RATINGS FOR SYNDICATED SHOWS FOLLOW THOSE OF NETS: DOWN
Not only did ratings for programs at the major broadcast networks hit the skids during the May sweeps but so did those for syndicated programs, Broadcasting & Cable magazine observed on its website Wednesday. The trade publication noted that only one first-run syndicated program showed an increase in ratings during the period -- Entertainment Tonight's 2-percent accretion (a percentage considered statistically insignificant). Off-network shows saw an even greater decline, B&C noted, with Everybody Loves Raymond down 18 percent; Seinfeld, 19 percent; and Friends, 27 percent.
LENO HINTS HE MAY SWITCH NETWORKS IN 2009
Jay Leno may jump to another network after his scheduled departure from the Tonight show in 2009. According to L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, who has been monitoring Leno's monologues lately, Leno has been hammering NBC for its low ratings. On Tuesday night, Leno, taking note of Fred Thompson's decision to leave Law & Order and suddenly vaulting into third place among GOP candidates, remarked: "He leaves NBC and his ratings automatically go up. ... I hope that works for me."
SCHWARZENEGGER SUPPORTS FEDERAL SHIELD LAW
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined what he calls "a chorus of widespread and bipartisan support" for a federal shield law to protect reporters from being required to reveal confidential sources in federal cases. In a letter to Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence and excerpted by Broadcasting & Cable magazine on its website Wednesday, Schwarzenegger cited the attempts by federal prosecutors to force San Francisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams to reveal their sources for a series of articles about the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. Schwarzenegger wrote: "The San Francisco Chronicle stories had a far-reaching impact on our national consciousness, yet it is clear that without a federal standard for protection of sources, similarly groundbreaking stories will never be heard."
IRAN PRODUCES HOLOCAUST TV SERIES
Iranian state television is producing a 22-episode series about the friendship between an Iranian boy and a Jewish girl studying in France after the German invasion in 1940. In an article headlined "Iran Series Depicts Holocaust Truths," Daily Variety quoted Hassan Fathi, director of the series titled Zero Degree, as saying: "According to historical documents through the period of the birth of fascism in Europe and the Nazi policy of destroying lives of Jewish people, Iranian people have played an important role in saving the lives of hundreds of Jews from this Nazi hell. ... This issue is one of the most important and basic subjects of this series and indicates that Iranians, typically, believe in the right of racial equality for all people." Variety observed that the director's remarks appear to be at odds with those of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has called for the destruction of Israel. Iran has the largest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel, and Iranian Jews who have emigrated to Israel have been quoted in the Israeli press as complaining that they face greater discrimination in their new country than they did in their old.