The week that was

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VIACOM WOULD BE OK WITHOUT MEL: REDSTONE

Viacom
Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone
told the New York Post
last week that "with or without" COO Mel Karmazin, the company would do "just fine." He also said Viacom would thrive without Redstone himself but added that he's not about to step down. (If he does, by contract, Karmazin gets the job.)

Earlier this year, the two were said to be feuding but that has calmed down. It may heat up at the end of the year when Karmazin's contract expires, but Redstone told the Post, "I'm not for a moment suggesting that he's going to go" and throughout the article expressed admiration for Karmazin.

Redstone talked to the Post
at the big media powwow held by Herb Allen
in Sun Valley, Idaho, every year. The Post
also reported that cable mogul John Malone
denied he is cooking a deal with Vivendi Universal
U.S. chief Barry Diller
to buy parts of Vivendi Universal that may be peddled now that its assets have been so depleted. But, he added, "I wouldn't rule it out."

CABLE NOTES FROM THE CRITICS' PRESS TOUR

At the annual press tour for television critics in Pasadena, Calif., where cable and broadcast networks hype their new projects, Oxygen
unwrapped Candace Checks It Out, in which host Candace Bergen
gets behind quirky female stories, like the first woman to pilot the space shuttle and the life of a phone-sex operator. The weekly show, kicking off next month, is Bergen's second offering on Oxygen. When the network launched in 1998, she hosted Exhale, an in-studio celebrity interview show. Of those early days, Bergen said, "It was frustrating that it was not seen by anyone we knew or
in the fly-over states."

Oxygen is expanding The IsaacMizrahi Show
to a weekly strip. It will follow Oprah Winfrey's new series Oprah After the Show
beginning Sept. 16. …

Lifetime Television
premieres its new legal drama For the People

July 21. Its Sunday-night companion, police series The Division, has been renewed for a third season. …

Comedy Central
is giving comedian Dave Chappelle
his own show, slated for a January premiere. Comedy also is teaming with actor/comedian Denis Leary
for Contest Searchlight, in which Leary leads the hunt for an aspiring writer/director; the winner gets to produce his or her show for Comedy Central. The 10-part series launches in August. …

ESPN's second original movie, due in December, will tackle legendary college-football coach Bear Bryant's 1954 grueling 10-day Texas A&M
summer training camp. …

Crime programming continues to populate cable nets. For its third original movie, Court TV
explores the plight of a young Afghan woman seeking political asylum in the U.S. Come fall, Court is adding investigative series Body of Evidence, hosted by profiler Dayle Hinman. …

Animal Planet
heads to New York City to meet urbanites and their special pets in Pets and the City. Animal's first sitcom, Beware of Dog, kicks off with two episodes in August, with more to come in January. …

Food Network
is adding four new series for fall, including prime time additions Top 5,
billed as the American Bandstand
of food, and
The Food Hunter,
in which host Pete Luckette
forages for produce. …

For its new Crime Fridays, USA Network
is airing original flicks The Wrong Man
on Sept. 13 and Murder in Greenwich
in the fourth quarter. A half-dozen crime miniseries, including Black Mass, based on criminal connections between the FBI and Irish Mob, and Traffic,
on underground drug trade, are also in development. …

Sister net Sci Fi
adds original action series Tremors,
about a small town battling alien worms, in January and is remaking Quantum Leap
into a two-hour back-door pilot, perhaps even with a female leaper.

AND, FINALLY

Several journalism and journalism-education groups, including the Radio-Television News Directors Association, wrote a letter to Congress last week asking it to reject a provision in the proposed Homeland Security Act
that would exempt some information from disclosure to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. …

Comedy Central
is farming out its star Jon Stewart
to CNN International.
Beginning in September, Stewart will host
The Daily Show: Global Edition,
a weekend show with the best bits from his American version. (AOL Time Warner
is a half-owner of Comedy Central.)

NBC's coverage of the Wimbledon
women's final between sisters Venus and Serena Williams
produced a 4.6 overnight rating/14 share, a 31% increase over last year's telecast.

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