In the Loop - Broadcasting & Cable

In the Loop

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Time and Again

Joel Stein wants to turn his life as a Time
magazine columnist into TV gold. A series based on his career travails is in development at ABC. Colin Hanks, son of Tom Hanks and last seen in Roswell, will play Stein. The writer hopes young Hanks will fare better in the still-untitled comedy than the cartoon version of himself in the ill-fated VH1 animated series Hey Joel. The network made 13 episodes but has yet to air the first one.

This round, Stein aims for realism. But Warner Bros. decided the pilot he wrote was a little too real. "I wanted to call the magazine Time
and the managing editor Walter, but the lawyers took the fun out of that," sighs Stein, referring to the mag's ex-boss Walter Isaacson. "But we did sign David Hasselhoff to play a foreign correspondent."

Chafing at the Kit

Isn't it reassuring when your employer hands you a special kit to help you flee the office in case of catastrophic attack? Just ask Viacom and its MTV Networks employees. Those working at Times Square HQ got emergency kits. The "go bags" contain a combo flashlight/radio, a bottle of water, and a filter mask, plus suggestions on how else to prepare (extra batteries). The handout stems from grousing after the evacuation of the 54-story tower during last summer's blackout. Staffers complained, among other things, that emergency lights failed in some stairwells, making for a scary descent. One staffer claims "it's not a fashion item," annoyed the black shoulder bags are not up to MTV's usual standards of style. Another disagrees, calling it "a cute messenger bag."

Pressed for Information

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge keynotes the opening session of RTNDA in Las Vegas April 19, and at least one free-press advocate hopes the audience grills him. Ridge will ask the journalists to help him share vital information with the public in case of a terrorist attack on the U.S. But what should reporters be asking him? "About Freedom of Information Act exemptions, what types of information the department plans to keep from the public," says Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporter Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Will the press rise to the occasion? Dalglish doubts that it will be journalism's finest hour: "I'll be astonished if he addresses the public's right to know. I will be even more astonished if anybody asks him about it" (see Editorial, page 30).

Go for the Gusto

The Discovery Channel is making gains with young-male viewers, thanks to shows like American Chopper
and Monster Garage. Which is why it's raising its glass—and billing $15 million in beer ads this year, up from none a year ago. Over on sister net Travel Channel, Budweiser already sponsors the hit World Poker Tour. And Discovery Networks advertising sales chief Joe Abruzzese wants to be awash in suds. "We'll sell shows that fit their brands," he says, such as Monday nights. "We wouldn't sell them Trading Spaces."

Fore Play

Next week's Masters golf tournament will be televised on CBS without commercials. It will also air sans Martha Burk (above), chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations and leader of the protests against the club's membership policy that excludes women. Last year, Burk and the other protesters were forced to hold their demonstrations a mile from the Augusta entrance. "There is no point going down there under the same circumstances," she says. "It was a complete police state." Things could change. If the 11th District Court rules in her favor and allows her to protest in front of Augusta's entrance, Burk will be there.

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