ABC TO AIR 9/11 MINISERIES SANS ADS

ABC has decided its miniseries The Path to 9/11 is so controversial and sensitive that it plans to air it next week without commercials, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday), citing ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson. The trade publication said that the network had considered airing it with limited commercial interruption, as it did with Saving Private Ryan, which was presented by Ford. "The creative [content] was so limiting," McPherson said, that "in the end we didn't think it was appropriate." He said that the five-hour program will also be available for free downloading via Apple's iTunes Music Store and via streaming video on ABC.com. "We spent $30 million on this and we're putting it on without commercials. How important we think this is speaks for itself."

DIFF'RENT STROKES MOVIE DRAWS FEW FOLKS

NBC, which apparently calculated that a TV movie about the scandalous lives of the young actors who appeared in the '70s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes would draw a big audience, calculated wrong. Monday's telecast of The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes proved to be a ratings disaster, averaging a 3.2 rating and a 5 share, putting the network in fourth place for the night.

FOX NEWSMAN SAYS JOURNALISTS HAVE PULLED OUT OF GAZA

Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni, who with cameraman Olaf Wiig was held hostage by Palestinian gunmen for 13 days last month, said Monday that the result of their capture is that there are now no TV reporters in Gaza to tell the story of the Palestinian people. "Unfortunately, after our kidnapping all foreign journalists pulled out of there. So for right now, they don't have the advantage of having those international journalists there and it's to their own detriment," Centanni told the BBC. Asked whether he himself would be willing to return to the area, Centanni appeared to be of two minds. "I would no back, maybe, but not too soon," he said. "This sort of scared me away for a little while. I love to work internationally, and I hope to do it quite a bit more in the future."

MANAGER OF "CROCODILE HUNTER" SAYS HE WAS MISQUOTED

The manager of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin has denounced as "absolute rubbish" reports that Irwin pulled a stingray's barb out of his chest before lapsing into unconsciousness and dying. John Stainton told CNN that the reports, which quoted him, were based on "rumors." Nevertheless, he acknowledged that the attack, which occurred in the water at Batt Reef, off the Australian coast north of Cairns, was caught on camera. Stainton further denied reports that he had watched the tape, saying he couldn't bear to do so. The tape is currently in the hands of Australian authorities.

WILL WALTER INTRODUCE KATIE TONIGHT?

As of Monday, CBS News executives had still not decided whether they will use an introduction recorded by Walter Cronkite for Katie Couric's debut on the CBS Evening News tonight (Tuesday). All other format elements of the broadcast appeared to be in place, however, including a new theme by film composer James Horner and a new set that will also serve as the CBS working newsroom. The newscast will also be available for viewing live online at the same time it airs on the East Coast. In an interview with today's Los Angeles Times, CBS News President Sean McManus said, ""I'm not going to consider this a failure if in three months or six months we're not in first place. ... It's no secret that the viewership for the television broadcasts is going down and it's going to be very difficult to grow that overall. That's why you have to find new revenue streams and new ways to distribute that product."

CUBAN SAYS NBA, NFL, MLB, AND NHL SHOULD STAGE "SUPERGAMES"

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Monday that the NBA is "making a huge mistake" by allowing its top players to participate in the Olympic Games without compensation. Writing on his blog, Cuban said, "Where else can you get to use another company's products for free? Maybe CBS will lend Katie Couric to NBC every couple years." Cuban points out that the contract for a single summer and winter Olympics costs more than the entire TV deal with the NBA for an entire season. "If we were really, really smart," he writes, the NBA would work with all the other U.S. professional sports organizations to stage the "SuperGames" every four years.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.