RECORD COMPANIES SUE ELLEN

Only a day after it was announced that Ellen DeGeneres would be replacing Paula Abdul on American Idol, some of the leading U.S. record companies sued her daytime talk show claiming the producers had failed to obtain licenses for the music they have used for DeGeneres's "dance over" segments on each show. The companies include Capitol Records, Atlantic Motown, Sony Music, Virgin Records, and Warner Bros. Records. The latter company is a corporate sibling of Telepictures Productions, which produces The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The lawsuit charges that the show's producers used copyrighted material from its inception, including popular hits that the record companies historically refuse to license to daytime TV programs. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported today (Friday) that the addition of DeGeneres to American Idol will establish a "solid pipeline" between the talent contest and DeGeneres's talk show. "It feeds one another, absolutely," Fox reality chief Mike Darnell told Daily Variety. "It's a win for us, as she'll be talking about it more on her show. And certainly people will come to Idol to see how she does. There's a huge curiosity factor." The deal also represents an embarrassment for print and online gossips who have insisted that the show's producers have continued to negotiate with Abdul's representatives secretly. Darnell told Variety: "Look, we were finished with that contractual negotiation. And we took it seriously. We had to go back looking. We just moved on."

LENO FANS TO BECOME PRODUCT PLACEMENTS AT FOOTBALL GAME

Talk about "product placement!" NBC plans to promote its own product, the debut of the new Jay Leno Show on Monday, during its season debut of Sunday Night Football by strategically placing fans wearing face paint advertising the show in the crowd at Green Bay's Lambeau Field. Other fans, it disclosed, will be wearing Packers jerseys bearing Leno's name and the number 10, for the time the show will air in most of the country. or 9, for the time it will air in the Central Time zone (Packers' territory). Daily Variety reported today (Friday) that Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels will be working in mentions of Leno throughout the game, and videos of Leno, wearing a "half-Packers/half-Bears jersey" will be shown on stadium screens. The trade publication said that NBC executives, while hoping for huge numbers for the premiere, would happily settle for the 11.9 million viewers who tuned in to Leno's final Tonight show appearance last May.

STOSSEL JUMPS FROM ABC TO FOX BUSINESS NEWS

John Stossel, one of the few broadcast network newsmen who wear their off-center politics on their sleeves, is leaving ABC, where he has worked for nearly 30 years, and heading to the fledgling Fox Business Network. In doing so, he will be leaving an outlet which attracts an audience in the millions and settling for one whose audience is too small to be counted. As co-host of ABC's 20/20, Stossel frequently selects topics that jibe with his libertarian philosophy, often showcasing experts also linked to libertarian causes or are members of libertarian think tanks or taking to task those who advocate placing restrictions on free-market economics (like documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who was on the receiving end of an aggressive attack by Stossel concerningMoore's film regarding the U.S. health-care system). Terms of Stossel's deal with the Fox Business Network were not disclosed. However, the network said that he will also make regular appearances on the Fox News channel.

NEW ONLINE VIDEO PLAYER: AT&T

AT&T is joining the online video stampede with the launch of AT&T Entertainment, a website featuring thousands of streaming movies and TV shows -- all free. The telecommunications giant said Thursday that the website will be open to anyone, not just AT&T customers. It is part of AT&T's strategy to deliver video content to the TV, home computers, wireless laptops, and cellphones.

FOX TAKES MISSTEP WITH DANCE

As the only broadcast network offering entertainment against President Obama's health-care speech Thursday night, Fox must have expected big numbers for its season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance. That wasn't the way things turned out, however, as the show attracted just 6.5 million viewers versus 8.9 million for the series that began last May and 8.7 million for the one that began a year ago. By contrast, the president's address was watched by 32.1 million viewers, giving it a combined rating of 20.6 and a 35 share. Fox did get a strong performance out of its new series Glee, which aired opposite NBC's America's Got Talent. The show attracted 7.3 million viewers, good enough for a strong second place, while Talent, the most popular show of the summer, drew 9.7 million.