The board of the Writers Guild of America is expected to meet today (Friday) and announce a decision on when the guild will go out on strike. Several publications, citing sources close to the board, indicated that it would probably begin on Monday. The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers responded, "We are ready to meet and are prepared to close this contract this weekend." The two sides remain far apart on residual payments for DVD and online sales. However, today's Los Angeles Times observed that there remains "an outside chance that an agreement on a new contract may be reached in the next few days." A strike would affect late-night talk shows immediately, but alterations in regularly scheduled shows could also become evident. NBC, for example, has presumably been stockpiling editions of its Dateline news magazine since the beginning of the season and may now employ them as specials to extend the run of regular dramatic and comedy shows. Likewise ABC's Primetime magazine, which has not aired since the beginning of the season, is likely to reappear. In her influential Deadline Hollywood Daily column, Nikki Finke commented that "politics is about to trump sound economics" and that neither the writers or producers appear to recognize that a strike is likely to cost far more than what either side can possibly gain.
CBS SWEEPS THURSDAY ON FIRST NIGHT OF SWEEPS
CBS got off to a solid start on the first night of the November sweeps, with its Thursday-night lineup winning every half-hour of primetime. The launch of Survivor: China at 8:00 p.m. pulled an 8.2 rating and a 13 share, off 11 percent from a year ago, but ABC's Ugly Betty suffered a more serious decline, dipping to a 7.3/12, down 27 percent from its year-ago figures. At 9:00, CBS remained in the lead as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation recorded a hefty 12.4/19 versus an 11.6/18 for ABC's Grey's Anatomy. Without a Trace closed the night for CBS with a 10.7/18. Its closest competition was NBC's E.R. with a 6.8/11. ABC's Big Shots, despite a 6-minute runover of Grey's Anatomy, proved to be no big shot at all, as it recorded a 6.6/11. (Without the help of Grey's, the 10:30 p.m. half hour registered a 4.5/8.)
CBS SAYS REVENUE IS DOWN -- BUT JUST A BIT
CBS reported revenue of $3.3 billion during its third quarter, down slightly from $3.4 billion for the comparable quarter a year ago. Earnings, however, were up 8 percent to $343.3 million, from $316.9 million last year. In its filing, CBS attributed the decline in revenue to "lower television license fees, the impact of radio and television station divestitures and the absence of UPN, which ceased broadcasting in September 2006."
DATELINE PRODUCER'S SUIT IS TOSSED OUT
A federal court in Chicago has tossed out a lawsuit against NBC that was brought by a former Dateline producer who claimed that she was fired after complaining about the show's To Catch a Predator series. Marsha Bartel's lawsuit included a number of allegations of ethical misconduct, in which she particularly singled out the group Perverted Justice, the group hired by Dateline to lure unsuspecting child predators before Dateline's cameras.
CHAPMAN REMAINS IN DOG HOUSE
The son of Duane Dog Chapman taped the phone conversation in which the TV bounty hunter used racial epithets in reference to his son Tucker's girlfriend, the Associated Press reported today (Friday). He later sold the tapes to the National Enquirer for "a lot of money," the elder Chapman's lawyer said. "I guess because of whatever level of anger he had of his father, he felt the need to express it in that manner," attorney Brook Hart added. A&E channel has suspended production of Chapman's series, Dog, the Bounty Hunter, despite Chapman's apology issued late Thursday.