YAMAGUCHI APPEARS TO ICE A WIN
Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi seemed assured of winning the Dancing With the Stars competition Monday night after she received a perfect score of 30 from the show's judges. After her cha-cha performance, judge Carrie Ann Inaba told her, "Kristi, it's ladies night. You won that hands down." Noting that men have won the contest for the past four seasons, Inaba said that they are generally "crowd-pleasers, and it's very difficult to keep up with that. But not tonight girl." The show received the highest ratings of the night -- by far -- despite season or series finales of several shows. Dancing earned a 12.3 rating and a 20 share at 8:00 p.m.. The second-place show, Fox's Bones, drew half those numbers, a 6.3/10. Fox's House moved into first place at 9:00 with a 9.9/15, while CBS took the lead at 10:00 as CSI: Miami posted a 10.3/17.
AFTRA - AMPTP STILL APART
A deal between the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers may not be around the corner as many industry observers had forecast. In a message to AFTRA members on Monday, union President Roberta Reardon said, "We are confronting a number of challenging issues, and a resolution may not be quick or easy." She indicated that because both sides had agreed on a press blackout, she could not disclose the nature of the disagreements. Nevertheless, she assured members, "our discussions with the Industry have been professional and businesslike, and we remain focused on continuing negotiations in this vein." Reardon's message did note that AFTRA, like the Screen Actors Guild, will continue to insist that its members consent to the use of their performances in new media, i.e., the Internet.
SIMPSONS ACTORS GO ON STRIKE
A de facto strike has hit production of The Simpsons, with the key actors providing the principal characters' voices, Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe) and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns), demanding raises from about $360,000 per episode to $500,000, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday). With the actors refusing to record the dialog for upcoming episodes, production has been on hold, and it now appears that fewer episodes than the usual 22 will be turned out for next season, the trade publication said.
WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS EDITING OF BUSH INTERVIEW
The White House on Monday accused NBC News of "deceitful" editing of an interview with President Bush by correspondent Richard Engel. In the interview, Engel asked Bush about remarks he made before the Israeli Knesset last week in which he accused his political opponents of saying "we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along." Engel asked Bush if he was referring to Barack Obama. As broadcast on NBC Nightly News, Bush replied, "You know, my policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has. ... And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously." The White House objected to the deletion of this passage from the president's response following the words, "the political calendar has:" "People need to read the speech. You didn't get it exactly right, either. What I said was that we need to take the words of people seriously." Removing those words, Bush counsel Ed Gillespie said, amounted to "deceitful editing to further a media-manufactured storyline." NBC maintained that the report accurately reflected the president's comments and that the entire unedited interview is available on its website. In its own report on the controversy, the Associated Press observed, "The White House routinely pushes back against news stories it does not agree with. The one against NBC News stands out for its angry tone and its accusation that the news division deceptively and deceitfully edited the president's words."
FORMER TOP AOL OFFICERS CHARGED WITH FRAUD
The SEC announced Monday that it has filed fraud charges against eight former AOL executives for allegedly inflating the company's advertising revenue by more than $1 billion prior to the 2000 merger with Time Warner. Among those named in the complaint is John Michael Kelly, the company's chief financial officer, who went on to hold the same position at the merged AOL Time Warner (the company dropped AOL from its name in 2003). The SEC said that at the time the merger was being considered, AOL, like the rest of the dot-com business, was facing a financial crisis. To counteract the downturn, the SEC said, AOL engaged in what it called "round-trip" transactions, in which it took the money it received from advertisers and essentially gave it back to them to buy additional advertising that they "did not need or want."