RATHER SAYS HE'S LOOKING TO EXPOSE CBS'S TACTICS
Unlike Don Imus, Dan Rather insists he will "absolutely not" settle his lawsuit against CBS. Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, Rather said Thursday that he primary reason for his litigation is to expose what actually happened behind the scenes at CBS after his discredited report about President Bush's National Guard service aired on 60 Minutes II in 2004. If any money is awarded to him as a result of the suit, he said, he would donate the bulk of it to organizations that defend investigative journalists. In his own case, Rather told King, CBS "sacrificed support for independent journalism for corporate financial gain, and in so doing, I think they undermined a lot at CBS News." Commenting on Rather's lawsuit, Mary Mapes, the producer of the segment who was fired by CBS for her role in what became known as Rathergate, observed that it "gives him that delicious power of discovery. Who knows what might shake loose." And James Moore, a veteran Texas TV reporter who had begun investigating President Bush's National Guard history before CBS had pounced on it, noted Thursday that every relevant document concerning it is probably filed at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. "Any historian, journalist, or amateur researcher could have access to the truth if the president simply signed a release allowing those pages to be printed and distributed," he wrote. (On the CBS Evening News Thursday, Katie Couric devoted less than 20 seconds to a report on the Rather lawsuit.)
60 MINUTES: THE PODCAST
The audio track of CBS's 60 Minutes will be available free at Apple's iTunes Store and the CBS News website from 11:00 p.m. on the day of the telecast beginning next Sunday, the network announced Thursday. 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told Broadcasting & Cable: "60 Minutes is perfect for this kind of audio podcasting. Our broadcast has always been built on solid story telling, with or without the pictures." He noted that the program has been simulcast by numerous CBS Radio affiliates for years.
WGA PRESIDENT DEMANDS FCC ACT ON INTEGRATED ADS
Newly reelected Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone has called for an FCC rule that would require TV networks to disclose when advertisements are integrated into a script. Speaking at an FCC hearing media ownership in Chicago, Verrone said, "When writers are told that we must incorporate a commercial product into the story lines we've written, we cease to be creators; we become advertisers ourselves. ... The FCC should require a crawl to run at the bottom of the screen during the integration that would identify the product, its promoter and the fact that the writers and actors do not personally endorse the product's use." During the so-called Golden Age of Radio, it was commonplace for writers to be paid directly by advertisers to integrate plugs for their products in radio shows, a practice that was then winked at by networks and advertisers, who often produced the shows. (Sample from the Jack Benny radio show after Benny's ancient Maxwell car fails to start: Benny's valet and driver Rochester: "Mr. Benny, why don't you get a new Hudson -- 'The Car You Step Down Into'?" Benny: "I can step down into my Maxwell." Rochester: "But a Hudson has a floor!")
DID SPONSORS SHUN KID NATION?
In an apparent effort to steer clear of the original controversy over Kid Nation, which included charges that the network and the show's producers had skirted child-labor laws, advertisers may have shunned the show's season premiere, resulting in the opening segment running 38 minutes without a single commercial. Reporting on the dearth of ads, Advertising Age asked, "Did CBS sell enough ads for the first episode of Kid Nation to warrant giving out a $20,000 gold star to one of the program's young participants?" A CBS spokeswoman responded that the network has debuted other programs with a light commercial load in the past and that Kid Nation will contain a "regular and full" commercial load when the second episode airs next week.
LUCAS FINANCING 200 STAR WARS-RELATED TV EPISODES
George Lucas says that his upcoming animated series The Clone Wars is so far removed from typical animated TV fare that "we're still trying to figure out how to put it on the air." In an interview with the online edition of TV Guide, Lucas said that the series would be rated PG-13 if it were a movie. "Everybody's got the same conundrums -- 'How do we program it? Where does it live? Where can we put something like this?" You know, it has to go [on the air] after 9:00 p.m. and it can't be on a kiddie channel." But while the series doesn't fit into a convenient "niche" for advertisers and programmers, Lucas said, "It's Star Wars and it's really good, so I'm sure somehow or another, people will also start thinking outside the box and it will find its home." Lucas indicated that he is independently financing 100 episodes of the animated series as well as 100 episodes of a live-action Star Wars-based series that has not yet begun shooting. "We're just doing them on the faith that we're going to [sell them]," he told TV Guide. "But I have enough confidence that this is good, and I'll make it really good, so I'm not too worried about that part of it."