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Danny Pearl TV Doc May Hit the Stage

The Journalist and the Jihadi, the new HBO documentary about the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, may be headed for the boards.

Ramesh Sharma, who co-directed and produced the documentary, tells B&C that an “operatic musical” based on the intersecting lives of Pearl and Omar Sheikh, the radical Islamist who was convicted of organizing his kidnapping and murder, is in the “very, very early stages.”

“The story itself is extremely operatic,” says Sharma, who has no background in opera. “It is a classical example of good and evil.”

The project began when Sharma, convinced that Pearl's story deserved a more expressive treatment than straight documentary, proposed the idea of an opera to his friend Rory O'Connor, a filmmaker, journalist and president of media firm Globalvision Inc.

“When Ramesh first mentioned the idea, I frankly thought he was dreaming,” O'Connor says. “I came to the conclusion that he instead was brilliant.”

O'Connor introduced Sharma to Tony Taccone, the artistic director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, who recently directed the acclaimed Bridge & Tunnel on Broadway.

While no project has been formally commissioned, Taccone invited British playwright David Edgar to take a crack at the material. Whether or not an adaptation will have a musical component, however, remains to be seen.

Says Taccone, “I have a hard time imagining Omar Sheikh breaking into song.”

'Trek' Ratings In Black Hole

The Starship Enterprise is missing. Wormhole? Rift in the space-time continuum? No. Trouble processing ratings for The CW.

Last month, Paramount Domestic Television re-released the 40-year-old original Star Trek series into syndication for the first time in a decade and a half. But ratings for the first two weeks that the digitally remastered episodes aired on The CW fell into a black hole in the national syndicated rankings report.

It seems Nielsen has had to reprocess ratings on 20 shows running on The CW's cable and digital outlets due to the misclassification of smaller-market affiliates of the new network, which replaced UPN and The WB.

A Nielsen spokeswoman said the reprocessed ratings from the first two weeks—Sept. 18-24 and Sept. 25-Oct. 1—will be released sometime next week.

In its first week of actually appearing in the national ratings—the week ended Oct. 1—Trek posted a 1.3 rating for its weekend runs (3 a.m. in New York). That's not far behind the 1.5 rating for WB holdover Smallville.

Never understimate the power of Shatner.

RCN's ABCs

Last week, cable operator RCN touted the launch of its new interactive program guide, which offers subscribers in Boston; New York; eastern Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago “enhanced search” and “easy-to-use advanced control over their digital entertainment and services.”

Well, not all subscribers.

Turns out a handful of RCN customers rely on outdated remote controls that don't have the A, B and C buttons required to browse programs by theme or search for titles. RCN mailed brochures alerting customers to the switch, but no mention was made of a potentially obsolete remote.

RCN head of programming Lynn Buening says that, since the number of affected customers was so small—less than 1% of RCN's 418,000 subscribers—the operator decided to leave it up to them to complain when they found the new guide to be somewhat less than intuitive.

“If the number had been more significant, we would have notified customers via mail,” says Buening.

There is an older version of the guide that will work with “non-A,B,C” remotes, says Dan Ward, VP of marketing and sales at Aptiv Digital, which supplied the guide. But RCN chose to go with the newer version across the board, those one-percenters be damned.

Apparently, Aptiv had to move quickly. After RCN declined to renew its contract with previous guide supplier Gemstar-TV Guide, Aptiv rolled out the new one in just a few weeks.

Says Ward, “It was a rather abrupt installation.”

With John Eggerton and Glen Dickson

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