CBS SAYS LEGAL FUSS WON'T STOP KID NATION

CBS is determined to go ahead with plans to broadcast the controversial Kid Nation beginning September 19; however, in an effort to counter an avalanche of negative publicity, the network has been scheduling screenings of the first episode for advertisers, according to the New York Times. One ad exec, Shari Anne Brill of Carat USA, told the newspaper: "I'm chomping at the bit to see it. So many people have asked me if it's O.K. to be in the show. The biggest issue simply is that there are children involved." Moreover, convinced that it has a certain hit on its hands, CBS is planning a second edition of the series and has already held casting calls for new children, the Times said. Plans for the new series, however, have been complicated by difficulties finding a suitable location in a state that has loose child-labor laws. One CBS executive told the Times that the current controversy over Kid Nation may make it too hot for any state to handle.

COSBY, BOOTED OFF MSNBC, NOW BOOTED OFF NBC, TOO

Former MSNBC host Rita Cosby's appearance on the Today show to promote her book, Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death, has been canceled after the show's producer received "a bristling, threatening letter" from an attorney representing Howard K. Stern, the gossip website TMZ reported today (Tuesday). According to published reports, Cosby claims in her book that Stern and Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's baby, had a homosexual relationship and that Smith often watched videos of the two engaging in sex acts. TMZ said that in his letter, attorney Lin Wood "made it clear he would sue the Today show for any false facts that spewed out of Rita's mouth." (Cosby is scheduled to appear tonight on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News talk show.) TMZ also claims that Cosby's source is Jackie Hatten, who has claimed that she was "best friends" with Smith for 16 years and that her brother dated her for two years. TMZ describes Jackie Hatten as "a known wacko whose brother served prison time for stalking Anna Nicole."

GMA ADDS AN HOUR -- ONLINE

Like its rival the Today show, ABC's Good Morning America has added another hour, effective today (Tuesday) -- only the additional hour will be able to be seen only by people with high-speed Internet connections, Broadcast & Cable reported on Monday. The third hour of GMA will be hosted by Chris Cuomo and will feature original material. It will also invite viewers to upload comments and questions recorded on video. In an email message to staff, ABC News President David Westin said Monday, "This is an exciting venture for ABC News and a great opportunity to introduce GMA to a new audience and expand our reach in the digital world."

COURIC LANDS INTERVIEW WITH BUSH -- IN IRAQ

As luck would have it, President Bush decided to pay a surprise visit to Iraq just two days after Katie Couric landed there, thereby allowing Couric to land a brief interview with him for Monday night's CBS Evening News. (ABC's Martha Raddatz was also able to buttonhole the president. NBC's John Yang was the networks' pool reporter.) Meanwhile, in a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Couric brushed aside criticism that her trip to Iraq had no other purpose than to boost ratings for her third-place newscast. She told the newspaper, "There's going to be criticism if I wear a white blouse. It's all about the work for me."

NO MORE SCRIPTED SHOWS TO AIR ON ESPN

Following its successful series, The Bronx Is Burning, about the Yankees' 1977 season, which concluded last week, ESPN has decided to abandon scripted shows, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Although ratings for Bronx were respectable, those for other scripted ESPN dramas, mostly about sports heroes, were not -- and one critical hit, Playmakers, was dropped following complaints about it by the NFL. John Skipper, who is in charge of content for ESPN, told the trade paper: "I'm a little less interested in the intersection of where entertainment and sports combine."

EMMY GROUP DEMANDS TITLE OF SNL SPOOF VIDEO BE CHANGED

It may be one of the most-watched videos in the history of YouTube, but the Justin Timberlake-Andy Samberg video "D**k in a Box," originally produced for Saturday Night Live, has hit a stone wall with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Academy has notified the writer/performers that it will not show the video at this month's Emmy Awards unless the title is changed. According to E! Online, Timberlake has informed the Academy that he is against changing the title.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.