NO REGRETS, SAYS SIMPSON GHOSTWRITER

The ghostwriter of If I Did It, O.J. Simpson's hypothetical confession to the killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, says he has no regrets about his involvement in the project. Pablo Fenjes, who reportedly received an advance of more than $100,000 to interview Simpson and write the book, has told The New Yorker magazine, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find a reporter in this country who, given the opportunity to sit down and take a confession from O.J. Simpson, no matter how oblique, would have refused to do so." Meanwhile, TV station owners who decided to pull the interview with Simpson that was intended to plug the book are saying they did so in response to angry criticism from viewers. "If no one complained, it would be on the air," Frank Quitani, president of Fox affiliate WWCP in Altoona, PA, told Advertising Age. "We've preempted programs before because we felt they were in violation of the FCC rules," Mike Angelos, a spokesman for Pappas Telecasting, which owns four Fox affiliates, told the trade publication. "This is the first time we've rejected a program because we thought it was not tasteful."

ABC YANKS THE NINE

20/20 cohost John Stossel announced at the end of the ABC magazine program Friday that he will return next Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. with a 20/20 special entitled, "Who Gives? Who Doesn't?" Fans of The Nine, which usually airs in the same time period may have asked, what gives? On Saturday, their question was answered by the network, which said that The Nine was being yanked and will return later in the season. There was no indication what will replace the program following Wednesday's 20/20 special.

BIG-SCREEN TV SETS IN HOT DEMAND FOR HOLIDAY

The nation's largest retailers slashed prices of large-screen LCD and plasma TV sets over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and found them being grabbed up in record numbers, published reports said. Meanwhile a survey by Information Week indicates that plasma TV sets 42 inches and smaller are likely to be phased out as the prices of LCD sets continue to fall. By this time next year "there will be no price difference between plasma and LCD TVs" for 42-inch models, Credit Suisse analyst Wanli Wang told the trade publication, noting that, given the same prices, customers would choose the LCD sets because of their higher resolution. Currently plasma holds an advantage over LCD when it comes to sets 50 inches and larger, but James Wu, CFO of Chunghwa Picture Tubes of Taiwan, which shut down its plasma business this year to focus on LCDs, said that he expects LCD manufacturers to overcome the current technical difficulties in producing larger models "in a timely manner."

CNN ANCHOR CALLS IRAQ "A MESS"

CNN correspondent John Roberts, who recently returned from Iraq, says that U.S. television has been unable to convey the extent of the chaos that currently wracks that country. "The place is a mess. It's an absolute mess," Roberts told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz on CNN's Reliable Sources. "There is nowhere you can go in the Baghdad area as a Western journalist without an escort, where you could feel safe from being kidnapped, shot at, whatever. The amount of death that's on the streets of Baghdad for U.S. forces and for the Iraqi people is at an astronomical level." Roberts said that he saw the results of an attack on a Humvee in which the U.S. soldier seated in the passenger seat was "disintegrated" by the projectile. He said he watched the driver die on the roadside. None of that could be shown on television, Roberts observed. "The pictures on television are sanitized compared to what they are on the ground. ... It's too raw for television. It's too personal for the families who were involved, because the fellow who I saw on the ground, Howie, he was ripped apart. And that's just not the sort of thing that you want a family to know."

PHILIPS TO BECOME SOLE SPONSOR OF NBC NEWSCAST -- ONE NIGHT ONLY

Next Monday, Philips Electronics will stand alone as the sole advertiser on NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams, allowing the network to cut commercial time on the newscast to one minute and 15 seconds, down from the usual seven minutes. Eric M. Plaskonos, director for brand communications at Philips, told today's (Monday) New York Times: "By taking the interruptions out ... it's our demonstration of the gift of simplicity." Philip's current advertising theme happens to be "sense and simplicity." NBC News exec John R. Kelly told the Times that the network had received a similar request from another advertiser. "We're quite interested," he said.

TRANSGENDER CHARACTER TO BE INTRODUCED ON ALL MY CHILDREN

Beginning on Thursday, ABC's All My Children will feature a transgender character named Zarf who is planning a sex-change operation. The Associated Press reports that although there have been a handful of post-surgical transgender characters who have appeared on TV shows, this is a first for a daytime drama. The gay-rights group GLAAD said some transgenders consulted on the storyline. GLAAD spokesman Damon Romine called the AMC decision "groundbreaking and breakthrough television."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.