CAA CAUGHT IN SAVAGE FEUD
The giant Creative Artists Agency apparently got more than it bargained for after it announced that it had signed conservative talk-show host Michael Savage as a client this week. No sooner had his name been added to its roster than Savage ranted on the air against another CAA client, singer Melissa Etheridge, who thanked her wife, Tammy Lyn Michaels, when she accepted an Oscar during Sunday's televised Academy Awards presentations. "I don't like a woman married to a woman," Savage railed. "It makes me want to puke." As for children raised by two women, Savage stormed, "I think it's child abuse." CAA quickly found itself in the center of the conflict. Late on Thursday, E! Entertainment's website said that it had received a terse email from a CAA representative that read only: "No longer rep him."
JESUS DOCUMENTARY DRAWING MORE FIRE
The Rev. Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association have become the latest troops to attack The Discovery Channel over its scheduled airing Sunday of The Lost Tomb of Jesus,executive produced by Titanic director James Cameron. The documentary claims that bone boxes discovered in a Jerusalem tomb bear the names of Jesus's family, including a son, Judah. Wildmon has called for a boycott of the channel and its advertisers. In a statement on Thursday, he declared, "It is time for Christians to send a message to The Discovery Channel and Hollywood that enough is enough! Don't stay silent while The Discovery Channel and Hollywood continually attack our faith and our values." Meanwhile, CNSNews.com, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center, quoted Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner, who oversaw the excavation of the tombsite, as saying that the documentary "is not scholarly and not scientific. ... I don't accept the claim that this tomb was the burial place for the family of Jesus." Meanwhile, Discovery Channel said Thursday that Sunday night's telecast will be followed by a discussion of the film moderated by Ted Koppel that will include critics.
MTV'S OVERSEAS OPERATIONS TO SHRINK
A second wave of pink slips has descended on MTV, coming down on its overseas operations. The Viacom unit said Thursday that it plans to restructure its international operations, an effort that will result in the layoffs of 250 employees in addition to the 250 employees who were let go in the U.S. last month. The company will not immediately experience a savings surge from the combined 500 layoffs, which represent about 7.7 percent of its international workforce. Quite the opposite, actually: severance pay and other costs are expected to amount to about $70 million, with most of that showing up in the company's first-quarter results.
SOUTH PARK ON IPODS AND PC'S
The potty-mouthed kids of South Park will be coming to the video iPod nearest you, when Comedy Central begins making episodes of the show available for downloading beginning Tuesday, March 13, six days after the original telecast. The channel said that the upcoming episodes will feature parodies of Fox's 24 and a visit with Senator Hillary Clinton. It did not indicate whether the episodes will be made available without charge or whether viewers will have to pay a fee. Comedy Central did note that the episodes will be uncensored, raising the question, how are they going to keep underage users from accessing the material?
BURNETT VS. BURNETT ON THURSDAYS
Producer Mark Burnett will be competing with himself when his latest hit game show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?airs on Thursday nights on Fox opposite his own Survivorseries on CBS. Broadcasting and Cablenoted on its website today (Thursday) that when Burnett's The Apprenticeaired on NBC on Thursdays, the network agreed to carry it at an hour when Survivorwas not airing. "This time around, it appears that Burnett did not have that same leverage with Fox," the trade magazine observed.
AFTER REPORTED FEUD ENDS WITH REISS, WILLIAMS MAKES NICE
NBC News confirmed Thursday that John Reiss is stepping down as executive producer of NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams effective today (Friday). Although some reports indicated that Reiss was leaving because of friction between him and Williams, the news anchor had nothing but praise for Reiss on his blog, The Daily Nightly, saying that the program on his watch has "enjoyed astounding success." Williams commented, "As schmaltzy as it sounds, he's also been dedicated to all of you: by putting his heart and soul into the best television he could muster from all of us for the past two years." Meanwhile, the TVNewser website said that it had received two tips from NBC insiders that Alex Wallace, the NBC News vice president overseeing the nightly newscast, was in line to replace Reiss. One of the tipsters told the website, "Her only prior experience running a broadcast was Weekend Today." But, he added, "she is very popular with [NBC Universal CEO] Jeff Zucker and [NBC News President] Steve Capus." Meanwhile, NBC also announced Thursday that Kevin Reilly had signed a new deal to remain as president of NBC Entertainment.
ARMY HOSPITAL STORY SPIKED BY PENTAGON MAY GET NEW LIFE
On the same day that it was reported that the Pentagon would not permit CNN and Discovery Channel to film at Walter Reed Medical Center and other military hospitals and had ordered soldiers at the Army establishments not to speak to the news media, the commander of the Medical Center was fired. The Army indicated Thursday that it had lost confidence in the leadership of Maj. Gen George W. Weightman following numerous media reports of neglect and long delays in outpatient care of wounded veterans returning from Iraq. Nevertheless, reports that Weightman would be replaced by Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley took some critics aback since Kiley had been accused by soldiers' families and veterans' groups of failing to improve outpatient care when he served as the commander of the Medical Center.
BBC COMES TO YOUTUBE
Clips from BBC programming will soon become available on YouTube, following a deal between the British broadcaster and the video website announced today (Friday). Under the deal, the material will be accompanied by "limited" advertising, except in the U.K. Chris Maxey, partnership development director at YouTube, told Britain's Guardian: "We are interested in testing out this new medium. It is new for all of us and we have to see what the community likes or accepts in terms of advertising and what works for such a new medium."