NBC FIRES CHIEF PROGRAMMER REILLY
NBC Universal is expected to announce as early as Tuesday that it is cutting loose Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, published reports said today. Today's (Monday) New York Times and the Los Angeles Times said that Reilly, whose contract was extended for three years just three months ago, had recently asked the network to clarify has status after learning that it had been in discussions with Ben Silverman, producer of such shows as The Office and The Biggest Loser for NBC and Ugly Betty for ABC, to take on a new chairmanship position that would essentially usurp much of Reilly's authority. In an email message to the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Silverman said that he was not taking Reilly's job. "I'm involved in something else," he wrote.
FOR ROSIE, THE VIEW IS DIM
Rosie O'Donnell will not be returning to The View. ABC said on Friday that it had received a message from O'Donnell asking to be let out of her contract one month before it expires and that it had agreed to do so. Her request follows an explosive confrontation with the show's co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck during which each woman described the other as "cowardly." On Saturday, O'Donnell posted a message on her personal blog saying that she had always felt like "the foster kid" on The View. "I came and we considered adoption, but I really didn't fit into the family, and then it was time for the foster kid to go back home," she wrote. As for Hasselbeck, she said, "I never tried harder to be friends with someone than I did with her from the get go, but I don't think we ended up there, anywhere close." She disclosed that Hasselbeck had phoned and spoken to her partner, Kelli Carpenter. But, she said, "I haven't spoken to her, and I probably won't, and I think it's just as well." In a statement, The View producer, Barbara Walters, said, "Rosie contributed to one of our most exciting and successful years at The View. I am most appreciative. Our close and affectionate relationship will not change." But Donald Trump, who had feuded with O'Donnell earlier in the year, said on MSNBC, "A great service was done by getting her off the airwaves. ... She's a disaster."
FIRE KNOCKS OUT ABC'S FLAGSHIP TV STATION IN N.Y.
ABC's flagship station in New York, WABC-TV, was knocked off the air just before its late-night newscast Sunday night after a light on the news set exploded and touched off a fire that ignited curtains behind the set, according to the station. "There was smoke all over the place," station news director Kenny Plotnik told the New York Times. We couldn't broadcast because everybody had to be evacuated." The ABC network, located in an adjoining building, was unable to provide backup programming because it, too, was evacuated. The staff was allowed to return to a water-soaked studio at about 1:00 a.m. to put the station back on the air.
NY TIMES MEDIA COLUMNIST RAISES MEMORIAL DAY ISSUES RE IRAQ
In a Memorial Day column, the New York Times's David Carr observed that countless acts of bravery now go unnoticed in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the media withdraws from the area, "worn out by the danger and expense of covering a war that refuses to end." Moreover, the military itself, Carr wrote, is making the war correspondent's job ever more difficult, including issuing a recent directive forbidding the release of "identifiable photographs of wounded service members" without their prior written consent. War photographer Ashley Gilbertson told Carr: "They are basically asking me to stand in front of a unit before I go out with them and say that in the event that they are wounded, I would like their consent. ... "They are not letting us cover the reality of war. ... I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics." Carr concluded: "If the government chooses to overmanage the wages of war in Iraq, there is a real danger that this new generation of veterans ... could come home to a place where their fellow Americans have little idea what they have gone through."
VENEZUELA'S CHAVEZ SHUTS DOWN OPPOSITION TV STATION
Radio Caracas Television, the oldest privately owned television station in Venezuela, was forced off the air at midnight Sunday by the regime of leftist President Hugo Chavez amid protests by Chavez's opponents and celebrations by his supporters. The Associated Press reported that the mood inside the station, which represented the sole media opposition to Chavez, was somber, with regular actors, comedians, hosts, and other on-air talent embracing and weeping, as the military seized control of the station's transmitter. Chavez had accused the station of plotting a coup to overthrow him. Marcel Granier, the station's top executive, told the wire service that Chavez's crackdown "marks a turn toward totalitarianism. ... He's losing more than he thinks he's gaining. He's losing international recognition and he's losing the respect of his people."
CAMPY COMEDIAN CHARLES NELSON REILLY DEAD AT 76
Comedian Charles Nelson Reilly, a campy fixture on such game shows as Match Game and Hollywood Squares, died in Los Angeles Friday of complications from pneumonia at age 76, it was reported Sunday. He was one of the first television personalities to acknowledge that he was gay (although his on-camera persona was that of a stereotypical gay "queen"). He once told the New York Times that after he came out, a network TV executive told him, "They don't let queers on television."