WEATHER IS HOT; SO IS SPORTS
With mostly reruns as their only competition, sports dominated the weekend, with the first two games of the NBA championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics winning Thursday and Sunday nights . The Belmont Stakes drew slightly bigger ratings on Saturday, as viewers tuned in to see whether Big Brown would be the first winner of the Triple Crown in 30 years. (In an upset of historic proportions, Da'Tara, a 38-1 longshot, won.)
RATHER SAYS PROFITS DRIVE TV NEWS
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has accused the news media of putting the quest for profits ahead of the quest for truth. In a speech to the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis Saturday, Rather recalled that at one time networks could turn out quality news because of their powerful owners. "In a news organization with an owner who has guts, there is an incentive to ask the tough questions, and there is an incentive to pull together the facts -- to connect the dots -- in a way that makes coherent sense to the news audience," Rather said. These days, however, it is rare to find a corporate owner in the media who can say "The buck stops here." Instead, he added, "the more likely motto no is: 'The news stops ... with making bucks.'" The result, he added is that "in the current model of corporate news ownership, the incentive to produce good and valuable news is simply not there." As for former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's claim in a new book that the news media became "complicit enablers" in the war in Iraq, Rather said that whatever McClellan's motive was in writing the book, "he's right."
MCMANUS: NO PLANS FOR SCHIEFFER TO RETURN TO ANCHOR DESK
CBS News and Sports chief Sean McManus has once again defended Katie Couric against critics and insisted that Bob Schieffer will not be involved in the CBS Evening News again. Schieffer, who replaced Dan Rather on an interim basis three years ago, boosted the ratings of the show during his short tenure before Couric took over. Since then, they have plunged to record-low levels. Asked by Broadcasting & Cable magazine whether Schieffer might fill in on the nightly newscast again, McManus said, "No, that is not anticipated." But he did indicated that there would be an "extension of his current role" as host of Face the Nation and contributor to the Evening News and The Early Show.
CANCER-STRICKEN SWAYZE RETURNING TO WORK
Despite dire reports about his health -- he has been receiving treatments for pancreatic cancer -- and tabloid photos of him looking gaunt and haggard, Patrick Swayze plans to return to work on the A&E series Beast, published reports said Friday. In the series, Swayze plays an FBI agent whose methods are so unorthodox that he is hounded by the bureau's internal-affairs department. "I have searched for quite a long time to find a character that is this multilayered, unpredictable and downright entertaining," Swayze said in a statement Friday. Meanwhile, the TVNewser website reported on Sunday that Nightline correspondent Martin Bashir will return to work after doctors discovered a "small growth" on his pituitary gland. The website cited an ABC News spokesperson as saying that doctors plan to monitor the situation from month to month.
CANDIDATES REJECT TOWN HALL INVITE FROM ABC
John McCain and Barack Obama have each rejected an offer by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News to appear in a general-election town hall that would be hosted by Diane Sawyer. The two presidential candidates said that, while they welcomed the town-hall format, they did not want it limited to one TV network. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said, "Both campaigns agree the town hall meetings will be open to the press but not sponsored or moderated by the press."
O'BRIEN OFFICIALLY DROPPED AS THE INSIDER ACTOR
Pat O'Brien, the co-host of The Insider, whose frequent bouts with alcoholism has made him the kind of celebrity that the show itself covers nightly, has been demoted to a Los Angeles-based correspondent, with Lara Spencer taking over officially as the show's sole anchor, CBS announced Friday. O'Brien returned to rehab last February. Spencer, who has co-anchored The Insider from New York, will move to California as part of a longterm pact, executive producer Linda Bell Blue said in a statement. Blue included her announcement of the anchor change in a statement announcing the conversion of the show's production facilities to high definition. "We are once again making history by being the first entertainment newsmagazines to move into HD. Lara is essential to the exciting future of the show," Bell Blue said.
WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS ANNOUNCER MCKAY DEAD AT 86
Jim McKay, best remembered as the host of ABC's Wide World of Sports, died Saturday of natural causes at age 86. His death was reported internationally, with overseas reports mentioning his coverage of the slaughter of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. His son, CBS News and Sports chief Sean McManus, issued a statement Saturday saying, "He had a flawless reputation and was a legendary figure in the history of sports television. However, with all his achievements the most important thing in his life was his family."