The Writers Guild of America may open a second front against CBS, following strike authorization by news writers at the network and its local radio and TV stations in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. The WGA said 81 percent of its members had voted in favor of the authorization. The primary issue is a proposal by the company to pay writers at its local all-news radio stations less than what they pay their national counterparts. The WGA also objects to a plan whereby members of their on-air staffs at KNX and KFWB in Los Angeles would share writing duties with WGA members. Following the vote, CBS announced that while it hoped that the news writers would not strike, it was prepared to continue production of its news programs if a strike did materialize.
NEW PAY ISSUE FOR WRITERS AND ACTORS ARISES
The question of what to pay writers when their work appears on the Internet may be at the crux of the current writers' strike. But now a reverse issue has been raised: What do you pay writers of an Internet show when it appears on television? NBC is likely to face that issue imminently following the announcement on Monday that it plans to air the Ed Zwick-Marshall Herskovitz "dramedy" Quarterlife on the network. The series of 36 eight-minute episodes is current running on the Web, and NBC said Monday that it plans to combine several of them into six hour-long episodes that it will air later this season. However, according to published reports, there are currently no published pay scales devised for paying the writing and acting talent for reuse of Internet programs on any network.
DONNY OSMOND APOLOGIZES TO LARRY KING
Donny Osmond apologized to Larry King Monday, days after he had threatened to block the broadcast of a CNN interview in which King asked his sister Marie about placing her son in rehab for substance abuse. Appearing on NBC's Today show, Donny acknowledged that he was upset about the question but said that he later learned that the news had already been leaked to the tabloids and that King's question had allowed Marie to address the matter before it appeared in print. "I have to apologize to Larry King because I said some things against him," he told Meredith Vieira during the interview. "In hindsight, I'm grateful that he gave Marie that platform."
POLISH GROUPS PROTEST POLISH JOKES ON FOX SITCOM
Polish groups are up in arms over a character in the Fox sitcom Back to You and how he is treated by other characters. The Polish American Congress has demanded a meeting with Fox owner Rupert Murdoch to discuss the matter and has asked that the character, Gary Crezyzewski, no longer be identified as Polish. "What we found so troubling is the attribution of a Polish identity to a character portrayed as someone less than competent," PAC Chairman Frank Milewski said in a letter to Murdoch. "We believe any ethnic group would be offended by having Fox portray it in such a derogatory manner." In reply, Fox defended its treatment of the character but added, "We apologize to any viewers who may have been offended."
FELLOW REPUBLICANS OPPOSE FCC CHIEF'S CABLE PROPOSALS
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is running into opposition from some fellow Republicans over his attempt to increase the commission's authority over cable TV. The Wall Street Journal reported today (Tuesday) that 24 Republican congressmen have written a letter to Martin calling his proposal "inappropriate at best and contradicts the [FCC] statute at worst." Among other changes, Martin is seeking to require cable providers to allow subscribers to choose the networks they wish to receive on an a la carte basis.
A.P. PHOTOGRAPHER TO GO ON TRIAL IN IRAQI COURT
An award-winning Iraqi photographer working for the Associated Press who was taken into custody by U.S. troops in Ramadi 19 months ago will be turned over to an Iraqi court for criminal prosecution, a Pentagon press officer said Monday. Although the A.P. has long contended that no evidence exists to support the military's claim that the photographer, Bilal Hussein, was connected with Iraqi terrorist groups, the press officer, Geoff Morrell, maintained Monday that a "range of evidence" now exists that "Hussein is a terrorist media operative who infiltrated the A.P." Hussein was a member of an AP team of photographers that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in Iraq in 2005 and his photos have widely appeared in print and television. The military has not informed A.P. lawyers of the charges to be brought against Hussein, and A.P lawyer Paul Gardephe, a former federal prosecutor, complained in an interview with Editor & Publisher: "This makes it impossible to put together a defense. ... At the moment, it looks like we can do little more than show up ... and try to put together a defense during the proceedings."