FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is prepared to junk federal rules that limit companies from owning TV and radio stations in the same market — and go half way in doing the same for TV stations and newspapers. He’s circulating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would wipe out the TV-newspaper restriction in the 20 largest markets, trade magazine Broadcasting and Cable reports citing “a person familiar with the document.” But it would keep a test that could block a combo in smaller markets if it would result in less local news, less diversity of voices, or too much concentration of economic power. Genachowski’s proposal sounds a lot like the standard that former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, pushed through in 2008. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned those rules this past July, saying that Martin hadn’t given the public enough time to weigh in on them. Public interest advocates who want to preserve cross-ownership restrictions applauded the court decision. Newspaper and broadcast owners say that mergers are needed to preserve local newsrooms as their companies compete against a massive number of national news competitors on cable TV and the Internet. As part of the rulemaking process, the FCC will ask whether stations skirt the ownership limits
NPR is embroiled in yet another scandal as pressure from conservatives mounts to de-fund the public radio broadcaster. NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller resigned this morning as a fallout of conservative activist James O’Keefe posting a hidden-camera video of senior NPR executive Tom Schiller (no relation) bashing the tea party movement as “racist” and “xenophobic” and saying that NPR would be better off without federal funding. (Tom Schiller resigned after his statements were made public. On Wednesday, he also pulled out of what was to be his next job, at the nonprofit Aspen Institute, citing the controversy.)
Last year, Vivian Schiller came under fire for the dismissal of longtime analyst Juan Williams over his comments on Fox News Channel that he feels uncomfortable when he sees people in Muslim garb on planes.
“The Board accepted (Schiller’s) resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” board chairman Dave Edwards said in a statement. “I recognize the magnitude of this news and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community.”
UPDATE: On Fox News’ America Live, Juan Williams reacted to the resignation of NPR’s Ellen Weiss, the executive who fired him, and discussed the future of NPR. He didn’t have many nice things to say (video below):
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
PREVIOUS: The NPR Board of Directors today released the findings of its review into the circumstances leading to the October firing of news analyst Juan Williams over remarks about Muslims he had made on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. (Williams has since signed a new deal with Fox News.) The board recommends new “internal procedures concerning personnel and on air-talent decisions” and “appropriate disciplinary action with respect to certain management employees involved in the termination.” But here is the most interesting part:
- Williams’ contract was terminated in accordance with its terms. The contract gave both parties the right to terminate on 30 days’ notice for any reason. The facts gathered during the review revealed that the termination was not the result of special interest group or donor pressure. However, because of concerns regarding the speed and handling of the termination process, the Board additionally recommended that certain actions be taken with regard to management involved in Williams’ contract termination.
- The Board has expressed confidence in Vivian Schiller’s leadership going forward. She accepted responsibility as CEO and cooperated fully with the review process. The Board, however, expressed concern over her role in the termination process and has voted that she will not receive a 2010
He has already been compared to Susan Boyle, another unassuming middle-aged person with a great voice who hit worldwide stardom via YouTube. Now Ted Williams, a homeless Ohio man showing off his great radio voice for a buck alongside a city street, has become an overnight sensation after the Columbus Dispatch posted a video of him on YouTube that has amassed almost 6 million hits. Williams is doing the morning show circuit, and he is reportedly getting numerous job offers. Who can blame the TV networks for jumping on the first feel-good story of the year, a talented man whose career and life were destroyed by drugs and alcohol on a path to redemption. (He claims he has been sober for 2 years now.) In addition to local NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers, reported suitors for Williams’ services include the NFL/NFL Films, ESPN, MTV and local TV and radio stations. It will be interesting if the broadcast networks join in, the man practically auditioned for a voiceover job at Fox with his Family Guy announcement at the end of the segment. And his story is tailor-made for a Hollywood treatment ala The Pursuit of Happyness. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it below. It is guaranteed to move even the most jaded Hollywood types.
Howard Stern put his staff out of its misery today by telling them he has signed a 5-year extension with Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The show, which is a joy to subscribers (like myself) because the lack of FCC supervision and fewer commercials, is at its best when Stern takes aim at his staff. This morning was no exception. When show writer and prank phone caller Sal Governale showed up late for work and missed the 6 AM announcement, Stern brought his staff together and somberly told them he turned down the deal and he’d be done in a week. Only after Governale broke into tears and lamented the future of his three sons did Stern tell him the real news, suggesting that Governale should show up to work on time and put some money aside because this is his last deal. The impact of Stern’s re-up to Sirius XM is seismic. The subscriber base was 600,000 when he followed his longtime boss Mel Karmazin and made the move. Sirius was a distant second to XM then, but shot past its rival. Following a merger, the subscriber base just passed 20 million. It’s unclear how close Stern got to the reported $100 million per year that his first 5-year deal paid him. He already enjoyed 10 weeks vacation per year and said that his new schedule will be “relaxed” even more. Sounds like more “best of” shows in the future …
CNN today fired anchor Rick Sanchez a day after Sanchez assailed The Daily Show host John Stewart as a “bigot” and suggested that CNN and the other networks are run by Jews. Sanchez made his rant Thursday on the Sirius XM radio show “Stand Up! with Pete Dominick”. CNN acted within 24 hours. “Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well,” the Time Warner cable news channel said in a statement. Sanchez recently lost his afternoon show on CNN Rick’s List, which was by CNN Newsroom. He then hosted a primetime version of the show until this week when a new program hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker launched in the slot. The Daily Show considered Sanchez an intellectual lightweight compared to CNN stars Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blizter and made him the butt of jokes, which Sanchez resented and thought was racist. (He’s Hispanic.) CNN has always fought some perceptions that it is pro-Arab and anti-Israel. In July, CNN fired veteran Middle East correspondent Octavia Nasr after she tweeted about the passing of Hezbollah’s Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah saying that she respected him a lot. So this is the second dramatic dismissal of a CNN personality over outside comments.
He’s the country’s top-rated talk radio host, beacon of conservatives, a lightning rod for controversy. Is Rush Limbaugh movie material?
Writer/producer James Sclafani thinks so, and has written a feature film about Limbaugh’s life that is in the process of being packaged and shopped for financing. Sclafani, who recently sold his script Counter Kid to Bill Murray’s Devoted Pictures, optioned The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent on Loan from God, an unauthorized biography by longtime Gotham-based journalist Paul Colford, who currently heads media relations for the AP. The book served as the basis for the script.
Sclafani said the script he’s written is a close cousin to the Oliver Stone-directed George W. Bush feature W, in that he tries to get beneath the surface politics and controversies and down to the ambition and demons that drove Limbaugh’s success. The film will include contradictions that have gone against his radio diatribes, from the dubious 4-F draft status during Vietnam (unearthed in Colford’s book) to a get-tough stance against drug abusers that was contradicted by the revelation that he himself was addicted to prescription painkillers and got them illegally.
“This is Citizen Kane meets Private Parts, where you have a man who always had trouble relating to people in the outside world, but does it effortlessly in the booth,” said Sclafani, adding that Limbaugh is the proverbial fat kid, ignored in high school, and determined to prove everyone they were wrong about him. “There’s this anecdote about …
Popular radio and TV host Art Linkletter died today in Bel Air at age 97. Canadian-born Linkletter was best known for hosting two long-running TV shows, CBS’ House Party and NBC’s People Are Funny. “Throughout Art’s 60 years in show business, he remained one of the most respected and beloved media personalities in America,” Disney president and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.
EXCLUSIVE: Wow, everyone connected with Howard Stern just keeps getting richer and richer (in addition to the King Of All Media himself, of course). The Howard Stern Show’s longtime radio producer, Gary Dell’Abate, has just signed a mid-6 figure book deal with Random House for his biography titled, “They Call Me Baba Booey”. It comes out in November. Don Buchwald & Associates’ Tony Burton and 3 Arts’ Richard Abate did the deal with Random House’s Spiegel & Grau imprint editor Julie Grau. Gary is writing it with author Chad Millman. I understand that Howard mentioned something about this on his Sirius show this morning — and the book has already jumped to No. 1 on Amazon’s “Movers And Shakers” based on book pre-orders.
So let’s see: Howard himself had 2 bestsellers, Robin Quivers had 1, Artie Lange had the most recent and now it’s obvious that Baba Booey will have one as well. Ya gotta love it — and wonder if a book might be in the cards for Fred Norris, the longtime Howard Stern producer whose sound effects enhances the mayhem. Gary is smart to get the book out this fall, since Stern is saying he might not re-up at Sirius when his contract ends in less than a year.
Dedicated Stern listeners know that the title of Dell’Abate’s book comes from his hobby of collecting actual cels from classic animated shows. While describing that pursuit, he mentioned …
(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) On August 10, Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion “Summer Love” Tour kicks off a 25-city run that will take the popular radio host and his pals from East Coast to West Coast, Texas to Minnesota.
This concert tour on the everlasting theme of romantic love will be jam-packed with tender duets and ballads, poetry (Poe, Shakespeare, Anonymous), and stories of passion and marriage — not to mention Mr. Keillor’s intermission walk through the audience for the sing-along of “Unchained Melody” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”
While these are not APHC broadcast shows, they will include many favorite Prairie Home Companion elements — Guy Noir, Dusty and Lefty, and the News from Lake Wobegon. Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins will be on hand, as will sound-effects man Fred Newman and the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band.
Aug. 10 Interlochen, MI — Kresge Auditorium
Aug. 11 Grand Rapids, MI — Meijer Gardens
Aug. 12 Kettering, OH — Fraze Pavilion
Aug. 13 Richmond, VA — Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Aug. 14 Brevard, NC — Music Center
Aug. 15 Indianapolis IN — Conner Prairie
Aug. 17 Red Bank, NJ — Count Basie Theatre
Aug. 18 Danbury, CT — Ives Concert Park
Aug. 19 Gilford, NH — Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion
Aug. 20 Dallas, TX — AT&T Performing Arts Center
Aug. 21 Flagstaff, AZ — Pine Mountain Amphitheater
Aug. 22 Salt Lake City, UT — Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
Aug. 23 San Diego, CA — Humphreys Concerts by the Bay
Aug. 25 Saratoga, CA — The
EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lopez And Sony Music Epic Records Part Ways; New Album “Love?” Won’t Be Released; Is It Amicable?
Jennifer Lopez has spent most of her singing career at Sony Music Epic Records. The bland version of what happened, I’m told, is that the contract period had ended and that Lopez had fulfilled it with her last two singles, and that Lopez and Stringer decided together not to move forward with an album. Others insist the Sony label dropped her. There also is disagreement on how finished her upcoming album was before it was canceled. Internet reports say her 7th studio album, titled “Love?”, was supposed to come out in April and featured production from Danja, Jim Jonsin, Darkchild, Chris n Teeb from Dropzone, and The Neptunes among others. A song from it titled “Fresh Out The Oven” surfaced online in October 2009 as a buzz single and reached #1 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs chart. But the official lead single, “Louboutins”, had its radio debut on November 23 following the song’s premiere and performance at the 2009 American Music Awards went to #31 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. UPDATE: *The song was the Power Pick of the week twice, and rose to #13 on that chart.*
Lopez insiders claim to me the album was “by no means done” and everyone was “only a few songs into it” and “unlike movie dates, street dates rarely hold in the music biz”. But that album was real enough to delay the release of her upcoming CBS …
So the liberal talk radio network Air America — home of Rachel Maddow, Randi Rhodes, and Al Franken before he ran for the U.S. Senate — is ceasing operations after 5 years, saying it will file for bankruptcy and halt live programming operations this afternoon. Charlie Kireker, chair of Air America Media, issued this statement:
It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.
The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America’s business. This past year has seen a “perfect storm” in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry’s long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.
Those companies that remain are facing
You know I’m a shameless whore when it comes to videos mentioning me… But the 8th annual Junior Hollywood Radio and Television Society Holiday Party benefitting Feeding America on December 3rd is a good cause. The past two years have seen big increases in the JHRTS membership base, and the connectivity between assistants and coordinators working in television. It has started a mentoring program, and expanded its Panel/Roundtable events, and begun working on an in-depth tracking board. [Also, I'm looking to post the best of all your showbiz company video Holiday Greetings, the more inventive the better!]
Today’s massive layoffs at National Public Radio is Hollywood correspondent Kim Masters who has specialized in the entertainment biz for Morning Edition and All Things Considered since 2003.
Sandy Litvack used to be one of Michael Eisner’s most trusted advisers at the Walt Disney Co. He’s now one of the U.S. government’s. That’s because the Justice Department has hired the Century City lawyer with Hogan & Hartson as an outside consultant on a possible federal antitrust challenge to Google’s proposed partnership with Yahoo. (Among other things, there are fears it could drive up ad rates.) Litvack was antitrust boss under President Jimmy Carter, then in 1991 joined Disney where his principal job after the death of Frank Wells was to follow Eisner around with a shovel. After leaving Disney when Eisner did, Litvack headed a commission created by Congress to consider changes to U.S. antitrust law. In 2004, Litvack found himself a star witness in that lawsuit brought by shareholders against Disney and Michael Ovitz over the ex-agent’s brief but disastrous tenure. But Litvack’s absurdist trial testimony defending Eisner and Ovitz stretched the truth by alot. It’s too bad that what happens in Hollywood stays in Hollywood.
Inexplicable why it took until today for this lawsuit to be filed in Manhattan federal court because it was a total “duh”. Here’s the backstory: the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust holds the copyright to the short story by Cornell Woolrich which is the basis for the 1954 suspense classic Rear Window after Alfred Hitchcock and actor James Stewart obtained the movie rights. The lawsuit argues that Disturbia‘s maker DreamWorks, its parent company Viacom, Steven Spielberg and others should have done the same to avoid copyright infringement. (I’m told that 1998 TV remake of Rear Window, starring Christopher Reeve, obtained the Trust’s permission.)
The conspiracy and wiretapping case against ex-Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano and Terry Christensen, the managing partner of the powerhouse entertainment law firm Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, will be in the hands of the jury after federal prosecutor Dan Saunders ends his closing argument this morning. Patty Glaser, Christensen’s law partner who’s also defending him, spoke for 3 hours yesterday. According to the Los Angeles legal newspaper Daily Journal‘s Robert Iafolla (the only reporter providing daily coverage of the 5-week-old trial), both closing arguments focused on the contents of Cristensen’s and Pellicano’s 34 recorded conversations. “With each side playing the same tape during closing arguments Tuesday, they again offered jurors radically different interpretations. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Saunders, that first recorded conversation was ‘the birth of a criminal conspiracy’ between two men with ‘an insatiable need to win’ without regards to their methods. In their initial talk they forged a secret pact to wiretap a litigation opponent, a ‘shocking display of greed, corruption and arrogance’ memorialized on more than six hours of recordings, Saunders argued.
“But lead defense attorney Patricia Glaser asserted that first conversation had nothing to do with a wiretapping plot. Instead, Glaser argued Christensen hired Pellicano to discover the paternity of a child born in 1997, not to supply intelligence about litigation …
There’s more bad news for the movie studio part-owned by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner with MGM. Last summer, 11 extras dressed in Nazi army uniforms fell out of the back of a World War II-era troop carrier truck as it swung around a corner in central in Berlin during the filming of Tom Cruise’s biopic Valkyrie, sending the actors to the hospital with injuries. Now, the actors are suing Cruise’s United Artists for $11 million, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. It reports that the extras’ lawyer claims United Artists knew the trucks used in the filming were not entirely safe because there was an internal studio memo about the rickety railings.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told it was decided Friday that Chris Albrecht would exit IMG and the settlement was negotiated over the weekend and concluded today. So what happened 11 months after he went there with such fanfare after being axed from HBO in disgrace after his Las Vegas arrest for assaulting his girlfriend that unearthed a long-ago sexual harassment scandal? Albrecht in September 2007 was made head of the global media unit at IMG, the marketing and management giant owned by Teddy Forstmann. Albrecht was also made a special limited partner in Forstmann Little, and Chris and Teddy were to raise a $250 million fund for investments in media and entertainment content. But my insiders tell me that Forstmann Little in these financially tightfisted times wasn’t able to raise the money talked about. Secondly, Forstmann didn’t like Albrecht, and Albrecht didn’t like Forstmann. Thirdly, Albrecht’s nose was out of joint when Teddy went after the purchase of reality czar Mark Burnett’s company in the spring without involving Chris. (By the way, I heard that contemplated IMG-Burnett $500 million deal fell on hard times this summer and may be dead.) And finally, Albrecht was offered a very good settlement to walk away. There should be a news release from Forstmann Little coming tomorrow today.
IMG speeded up its announcement after I scooped the news. It said the parting was amicable. “While Albrecht acknowledges that IMG has world-class media production and distribution businesses in both sports and entertainment, when he joined the company in September 2007 the parties intended to …