DISUNITY HITS ACTORS' UNIONS
Growing tension between the two major actors' unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, became more conspicuous Tuesday as SAG National Executive Director Doug Allen sent a letter to members accusing AFTRA of signing agreements with producers of one-hour cable-TV shows that "seem more advantageous to producers than Screen Actors Guild contracts would be." Insisting that such programs have "historically been work within Screen Actors Guild jurisdiction," Allen said that AFTRA's willingness to make concessions to producers that SAG would not "pits union against union and actor against actor and results only in less to actors." Allen suggested that deals between the cable producers and AFTRA undermine SAG's efforts to improve pay and secure higher residuals for actors on such shows. "Rates for members who work on cable and new media should be as high as possible because better rates for one means better rates for all," he wrote.
LUCAS STARTS WORK ON LIVE-ACTION STAR WARS TV SERIES
The long blogged-about live action TV series based on the Star Wars movies is now in development, George Lucas has disclosed to the Los Angeles Times. "The Skywalkers aren't in it, and it's about minor characters," he told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of those people. It's completely different. But it's a good idea, and it's going to be a lot of fun to do." The live-action series would be produced in addition to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a computer-animated series that Lucas is currently producing. Lucas indicated that network execs have thus far not proved receptive to either project. "They are having a hard time," Lucas told the Times. "They're saying, 'This doesn't fit into our little square boxes,' and I say, 'Well, yeah, but it's Star Wars. And Star Wars doesn't fit into that box.'"
CBS STAYS AHEAD IN RATINGS BUT ABC DANCES CLOSER
CBS's old standbys overshadowed new programming on rival networks as it captured 10 of the top-15 positions on the Nielsen ratings chart. But ABC gave it a close run for the money thanks mostly to oversized ratings for Dancing With the Stars, Grey's Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives. CBS averaged a 7.9 rating and a 13 share for the week, while ABC placed second with a 7.2/12. NBC was a distant third with a 5.2/9, while Fox trailed with a 4.9/8.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.8/19; 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 12.4/19; 3. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 12.3/19; 4. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 11.8/18; 5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 11.3/17; 6. House, Fox, 10.8/16; 7. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 10.7/16; 8. NCIS, CBS, 10.4/17; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9.6/15; 10. Criminal Minds, CBS, 9.3/14.
MOONVES TO REMAIN AT CBS POST THROUGH 2011
The announcement of the latest ratings win by CBS came on the same day that the company disclosed that it had signed a new long-term contract with its president and CEO, Les Moonves. Although the pact reduces his annual compensation to $3.5 million from $5.9 million over the next four years, it adds incentives tied to the performance of CBS Corp. stock.
KIMMEL CUT FROM MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel's career as a color commentator on ESPN's Monday Night Football lasted for only two Mondays. According to the New York Times, Kimmel was relieved of his duties following his second MNF appearance after making a jocular remark about Joe Theismann, who was fired last season, "watching from his living room with steam coming from his ears." The remark was greeted with dead silence by the other MNF broadcasters, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, and Mike Tirico. On Tuesday, Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman called Kimmel's comment "classless and disappointing. It was cheap." He said Kimmel will not return.
CABLEVISION OWNERS LIKELY TO SEE THEIR BIDS REJECTED
Plans by the Dolan family to take Cablevision Systems private with a $10.6-billion buyout appeared wobbly Tuesday as its largest shareholder, ClearBridge Advisors, insisted that the Dolans' bid was too low and undervalued the company's worth. ClearBridge owns about 14 percent of the cable company's shares. But other Cablevision shareholders also have balked at the offer, including T. Rowe Price and Mario Gabelli. However Cablevision CEO James Dolan said Tuesday night that the family has no intention of raising its bid above the $36.26 a share that it offered. Cablevision shares were selling for $32.91 at midday trading in New York today.
DOW JONES WEBSITES YANK CNBC ADS
The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch websites, both owned by News Corp following its acquisition of Dow Jones, dropped advertising for CNBC and replaced it with ads for Fox Business Network, also owned by News Corp, according to the New York Times. CNBC is owned by NBC Universal, which in turn is owned by General Electric. CNBC had paid about $87,000 for the ads that were dropped, the Times said. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, told the newspaper, "It does raise anew the question of whether the editorial judgment of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones journalists will remain independent of News Corp. Apparently on the ad side, it will not."
IMUS MAY HAVE NEW CABLE PARTNER
Don Imus may be about to land a cable network to simulcast his new talk show that reportedly will debut over WABC-AM in New York in December. According to the New York Times, RFD-TV, a channel primarily aimed at farming and rural communities, has been in talks with Imus. The channel currently is seen mostly by subscribers of satellite services DirecTV and DISH Network. The Times quoted a source as saying that RFD-TV is hoping that the Imus show will give it an entree with large cable systems.