By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/16/2005 7:00:00 PM
Time Warner Trims Three
Three veteran Time Warner Cable execs are exiting in a major restructuring of the top ranks. Vice Chairman and COO John Billock and President Tom Baxter, both at the end of their contracts, will exit over the next several months, with their jobs consolidated into a single president/COO position. Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chuck Ellis is also heading out the door.
Insiders say Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt wants a more efficient management structure. Billock heads marketing, ad sales and corporate affairs, while Baxter runs the cable company's system operations. Warner restructured its management ranks in 2001, when Britt took the top job and Billock and Baxter were installed atop the country's second-largest MSO.
PTC Slams CBS “Orgy”
The Parents Television Council has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over CBS' Dec. 31 rebroadcast of an episode of Without a Trace containing what the PTC said were scenes of a “teen orgy party.”
PTC says it complained about the episode when it first aired but that the complaint was never addressed since it was part of CBS parent Viacom's consent decree settlement with the commission.
“The fact that this shocking episode aired only days after the consent decree was announced proves that CBS has no intention whatsoever to abide by the spirit or the letter of that agreement,” said the group.
Back in November, Viacom agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle all outstanding indecency fines, proposed fines and complaints against it except Janet Jackson's Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” which it is expected to challenge in court.
PTC had to lodge the complaint for its Central and Mountain time zone viewers. The show aired at 9 p.m. there. On the East Coast, it aired at 10 p.m., which is within the FCC's 10 p.m.-6 a.m. safe harbor for indecency.
PTC also said it was mailing the FCC a copy of the episode. CBS declined to comment on the PTC complaint.
Shine Rises at Fox
Fox News Channel has promoted prime time production chief Bill Shine to senior vice president of programming. Shine was primarily responsible for the production end, keeping Fox News' evening shows on track. The promotion puts him in charge of all programming throughout the day, including greater responsibility for developing new shows.
Shine says no one should expect any big changes. “It's not a matter of 'fixing' something, but improving things that we have throughout the day. With the success of the network, I think there is even more room for our ratings to go up.” Shine replaces Kevin McGee, who was recently put in charge of Fox's radio syndication unit.
Ex-Marketwatch Columnist Settles With SEC
Former CBSMarketWatch.com columnist Thom Calandra has agreed to pay $540,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a complaint against him.
The SEC charged that Calandra had “betrayed his reader's trust,” by using his column, “The Cassandra Report,” to make over $400,000 in profits by “scalping”—buying low-priced shares in thinly traded stocks, then selling them after he had promoted them in the newsletter to artificially inflate the price.
Calandra said of the resolution, “I am happy to have finally reached a settlement with the SEC on this matter. It has been a challenging year, to put it mildly.”
Alley Excises Craig Crack
A line using the “f-word” to describe Jenny Craig has been removed from the pilot of Showtime series Fat Actress.
Worries over the FCC? No. This is pay cable, home of such colorful vocabulary lessons as The Sopranos.
In fact, the f-word is still in. Instead, a Jenny Craig reference was excised, in deference to the star of the show, Kirstie Alley, who has been hired as the company's spokeswoman.
CBS' Dramatic Developments
CBS has ordered a new pilot from Jerry Bruckheimer, the man behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and five other CBS hits.
The network has signed the pilot for American Crime, a drama about the struggles of a criminal prosecutor who fights suburban injustice while balancing the challenges of being a new mom. Executive-produced by Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Jim Leonard, the pilot is one of at least three Bruckheimer projects in development pipelines for next season. He's also working on E-Ring, a Pentagon drama, for NBC, and an untitled drama for The WB about a pair of mismatched lawyers. The network has also ordered a pilot for a science-fiction drama about a team charged with making “first contact” with a mysterious alien life form.
A female government contingency analyst leads the group of scientists and military personnel in Threshold, which is executive-produced by David Heyman and David Goyer, written by Bragi Schut and directed by Goyer. Co-owned Paramount is the studio.
Reality Vet Tops Twentieth First-Run
Twentieth Television has tapped a reality-show veteran to head up first-run programming development and production.
Paul Buccieri, currently executive producer of Endemol's upcoming NBC reality show I Want To Be a Hilton, is joining Twentieth Television in the newly created position of president of programming, effective Jan. 17. High on his to-do list will be A Current Affair, the company's first-run revival of the access magazine, as well as a daily talk show hosted by Suze Orman. Buccieri will oversee all first-run program development and production for the distributor, reporting to Twentieth Television President and COO Bob Cook, who is in charge of both first-run and off-net.
Buccieri executive-produced reality show The Next Great Champ for Fox, which is co-owned with Twentieth.
Before joining Endemol, Buccieri was senior VP, program development, for Chris-Craft/United Television, and before that senior VP of non-fiction programming at All American Television.
Black Entertainment Television will launch a new on-air look and logo for its 25th anniversary in 2005.
The net's new tag line will be “It's My Thing,” billed as more “down to earth.” The star in BET's logo, which has been on the left side, next to the B, will shift to the right side to suggest less emphasis on the star and more on the viewer, according to BET President Debra Lee.
At the Critics Tour in L.A., the network announced three shows for first quarter 2005: the second season of reality show College Hill (which will return Jan. 27 at 9 p.m.); a four-part series on social and political issues called The Cousin Jeff Chronicles (premiering March 2005); and Rip the Runway, a hip-hop fashion show (premiering March 24).
Logo Catches 'Angels'
In an unusually large spending splash, MTV's startup gay network Logo has bought basic cable rights to HBO epic AIDS miniseries Angels In America. The acclaimed six-hour series is a major purchase for a startup channel, particularly at MTV Networks, which tends to scrimp on programming for new networks. “It's something we had to have,” says Brian Graden, Logo president and MTV programming president. He wouldn't disclose the terms, but other HBO miniseries have sold for more than $5 million.
News Corp. Recapturing Fox
News Corp. said it plans to buy the 18% of Fox Entertainment Group it doesn't already own. News Corp. is offering to acquire the shares by trading its own stock, 1.9 News Corp. shares for every Fox share. That values the deal at $4.9 billion.
Fox is primarily composed of News Corp.'s U.S. entertainment assets, Fox's broadcast and cable networks, TV stations, and 20th Century Fox movie studio. News Corp. sold the chunk to the public in 1999 for $2.8 billion, giving the then-Australian company a U.S. trading currency. Taking Fox public has proved something of a disappointment, as it has fairly consistently underperformed News Corp. shares in the market.
Stations Bite on Big Apple 'CSI'
King World has sold the latest entry in CBS' CSI franchise, CSI: NY, in 75% of the country for weekend broadcast syndication starting in 2008.
Stations are getting 6.5 minutes of ad time to sell in the show, with the syndicator getting 7.5 minutes.
The quick sale is no surprise. CSI: NY's big brother, CSI, is going gangbusters on weekends, averaging a 5.3 national household rating season-to-date. That makes it by far the top-rated show among the weekend hours. This week, CSI was the sixth-rated show in all of syndication, consistently ranking in the top 10.
CSI: NY is cleared on stations in the top-30 markets, including WCBS New York, KCBS Los Angeles, WBBM Chicago, KYW Philadelphia, and WBZ Boston.
Hollander Heads Infinity
Viacom has named Joel Hollanderchairman and CEO of Infinity Broadcasting, the 183-station radio group once headed by former Viacom President Mel Karmazin. Hollander, who had been president and COO since May 2003, succeeds John Sykes, who is moving to the TV side to oversee new MTV cable networks.
Tim Green To Host 'Current Affair'
Fox Sports commentator and former National Football League star Tim Green will become the new Maury Povich, hosting Twentieth's reincarnation of syndicated magazine show A Current Affair, said Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television (both Twentieth and Fox are owned by News Corp.). A Current Affair is slated for a spring launch on the Fox O&Os and will also be available to other interested stations at that time.
TNT Green-Lights Drama Duo
Turner Network Television has green-lit two new original recurring dramas, The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick, and Rush, starring Gary Cole. Both shows will receive a 13-episode order and will premiere in summer 2005. The Closer is a police drama about a detective who transfers from Atlanta to Los Angeles to head a special unit of the LAPD on sensitive, high-profile murder cases. Rush is about an elite crime-fighting team, made up of federal and local law enforcement agencies, which works undercover to nab L.A.'s 100 most-wanted fugitives.
King Takes $2.5 Billion Swing
Boxing Promoter Don King has sued ESPN for $2.5 billion, charging that he was defamed in a SportsCentury biography.
King charges that the May 14, 2004, airing of the bio “intentionally and recklessly portrayed Don King in a false light.” ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys wasn't commenting, but he pointed out that SportsCentury is “a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of more than 250 biographies that is widely respected for its journalistic quality.
FCC General Counsel Exits
Federal Communications Commission General Counsel John Rogovin is exiting to become a partner in the communications law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dore. Deputy General Counsel Austin Schlick succeeds him.
Food Sets Table for 2005
Food Network said it is preparing to plate 10 new series for 2005, including the much-promoted Iron Chef spin-off, Iron Chef America, which debuts Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. (Its first new show, a rundown of top cook-offs dubbed Food Network Challenge, debuted Jan. 9).
Also on the new series menu: Take It Off (premiering March 2005), a show featuring “Calorie Commando” Juan Carlos Cruz; The Dave Lieberman Show (April 2005), about eating and entertaining like royalty on a shoestring (potato) budget; and The Next Food Network Star, in which one lucky cook gets a taste of Food Net stardom.
In the Jan. 10 issue of B&C, the corporate parent of WOAI San Antonio was incorrectly identified. The station is owned by Clear Channel.
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