ARE LENO'S DAYS NUMBERED?
In what appeared to be a direct acknowledgment that NBC's Jay Leno strategy has not succeeded, NBC Universal Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin said Thursday that "while we think we need to produce economically, the goal is not to manage for margins. ... It is to put the best possible programs we can on the air." Gaspin's comments came in an interview with TheWrap.com, which called him "a direct repudiation of former NBC Entertainment Co-chair Ben Silverman, who frequently citing the 'managing for margin' mantra and used it to justify many of the Peacock's programing decisions, including NBC's replacing 10:00 p.m. dramas with The Jay Leno Show." In effect, the strategy disregarded ratings and focused on cutting costs and producing profits. Gaspin also responded to criticism of his decision to pull the critically acclaimed Southland from its Friday-night schedule. NBC's Dateline, he observed, had been doing quite well in the ratings in that period. By replacing it with Southland, he said, "We would likely take a hit in the ratings, and that was something I didn't want to see happen." But several industry executives who declined to be named told the Washington Post that they were skeptical that Gaspin really intends to plunge into ratings competition with the other networks any time soon. One "industry pundit" told the newspaper: "How can they do it with Jay Leno sitting there at 10? You're accepting you're going to have a lower number -- that's a lower number on more than a quarter of your schedule. How are you going to win [the ratings race] with that?"
CNN TO FOCUS WEBSITE ON VIDEO
Calling it "a revolution for us," K.C. Estenson, the general manager of CNN.com, unveiled plans on Thursday for a redesigned website that for the first time focuses on video. At a news conference in New York Estensen said that when the site launches on Monday it will "emphasize breaking news, and more video, as well as perspective and analysis, and keep it easy to use." The website also plans to increase its coverage of entertainment and celebrities with content from corporate siblings People magazine and Entertainment Weekly. "This is a total re-imagining of CNN.com, and we are extremely excited about unveiling it to the world," said Estenson.
TV KIDS SHOW HOST SOUPY SALES DIES AT 83
Soupy Sales, who fronted a kids show in the '50s and '60s that attracted a sizable adult audience, died Thursday in New York at age 83. He is best remembered as the TV host who delivered pies in the face to celebrities and often took as many himself. However, many who worked with him remember a practical joke that the ABC crew played on him in Los Angeles in 1961. In one scene that was televised live he was to knock on a door and be greeted by a beautiful woman. The woman, however, turned out to be bare-breasted -- and Sales could see her image on a monitor on the set. What went out over the air, however, was just a close-up of Sales' reaction. "I thought my career was over," he said later. The closed-circuit scene, however, has been circulating on blooper reels for years.
BBC SAYS IT WAS REQUIRED TO AIR RIGHT-WING POLITICIAN'S VIEWS
The BBC today (Friday) defended its decision to include the far-right politician Nick Griffin on a discussion program Thursday night. Earlier, hundreds of angry protesters descended on BBC's headquarters in London to condemn the broadcaster's decision to include Griffin on the program. Several broke through barriers and had to be chased down by police and physically removed. In a statement, the BBC said that its remit as a publicly funded broadcaster requires it to cover all political views. It also noted that Griffin had been confronted with a number of tough questions during the program. "We remain firmly of the view that it was appropriate to invite Nick Griffin," BBC deputy director-general Mark Byford said. It also noted that the program drew eight million viewers, an enormous audience by British standards.