Pirate radio operators are getting their day in court—make that two days. The anti-establishment operators of unlicensed stations go before the federal appeals court in Washington Thursday to argue against FCC rules forbidding pirate broadcasters from holding low-power radio licenses if they refused to go dark following a federal warning. A week later, Cleveland nightclub owner and shut-down pirate Jerry Szoka appears in the same courtroom to take on the FCC's seizure of his station in 1999.—B.M.
Bell excited @new home
Don't you hate it when friends lean on you to buy stuff? That's essentially what happened to Excite@ Home staffers. Two months ago, ex-Chairman George Bell had an e-mail distributed to the entire company. It began as a friendly "I will always root for your success" letter and quickly became a pitch for his new gig, Upromise, a "change-the-world company that aims to revolutionize the way families save for college"—
basically, a frequent-flyer plan to get money toward tuition. "Signing up for Upromise is a snap," the letter said, "and it's free." That's good, since Excite@Home is facing Chapter 11. Excite@Home verified the e-mail; Bell couldn't be reached.—J.H.
ABC's Big Picture Show
on Saturday nights is turning into The Bond Picture Show. Starting Oct. 6 with Dr. No,
ABC is airing the first 13 Bond films on consecutive Saturdays (with a few exceptions for football). To fill the weekly three hours of prime time and stir up (make that shake up) interest, ABC is airing the films' original trailers and holding a Bond garage sale. There will also be a Bond Girl reunion, a villains' reunion and even a Bond-themed, prime time Politically Incorrect. For Dr. No, ABC is producing a number of interstitials with a "Bond University" theme: all you ever wanted to know about the franchise. Says ABC marketing and promotion executive Alan Cohen: "People think they've seen all of that stuff now, on DVD or TBS, so we have taken a completely different approach."—J.S.
CNN with a smile
CNN executives are still working on Aaron Brown's prime time newscast, but it should look familiar to night-owl news junkies. CNN news chief Walter Isaacson (above) says the show will resemble ABC's quirky overnight World News Now,
which Brown anchored, adding that there will also be some Nightline
elements and Daily Show-style humor. Insiders say Brown's newscast, likely debuting the second or third week of October, will probably follow Larry King Live, with Bill Hemmer's double duty (First Evening News
and CNN Tonight) scaled back to one
7 p.m. newscast.—A.R.
Back in business
Steve Wilson, the reporter whose lawsuit against Fox stations kept him out of TV news for almost four years, will return as lead investigative reporter at WXYZ-TV Detroit. Wilson and his wife, Jane Akre, claimed they were fired from WTVT(TV)) Tampa, Fla. after refusing to slant a story on the dangers of a Monsanto hormone used in milk. Fox denied that, saying they were let go for insubordination. Akre won $425,000; Wilson got nothing. Fox is appealing, and Wilson wants a new trial. He said WXYZ-TV "wanted assurances we did what we did for the reasons we stated." It was never, he said, about an Insider-type book or movie deal: "Russell Crowe hasn't called." For his part, Wilson wanted assurances the station "is committed to investigative reporting the way it was done before [news] was taken over by lawyers and bean counters."—D.T.