The week that was - Broadcasting & Cable

The week that was

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L.A. bomb threats

As film and TV stars prepared for a telethon last Friday to raise funds for victims of the terrorist attacks, Hollywood studios and networks took extra security measures to guard against any violence there. An NBC
memo said the company "learned the FBI notified specific film studios ... of potential bomb threats." Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti
was briefed by Attorney General John Ashcroft's office last Thursday; Valenti then briefed studio heads on the potential terrorist activity.

The upcoming 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, originally scheduled to take place Sept. 16, have been rescheduled for Oct.7, and that date still holds.

Hard to laugh

David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Bill Maher
and Jon Stewart
all resumed their late-night talk and comedy shows last week, but there wasn't much funny about them. Comments by Maher and a guest on his Politically Incorrect
show on ABC
actually prompted one station chain to cancel and two advertisers to pull spots.

On Late Night With David Letterman
on CBS
last Monday, anchorman and guest Dan Rather
began crying when describing his feelings about the attacks. OnThe Tonight Show With Jay Leno, the comedian said Americans had been "sucker-punched" by the terrorists. O'Brien
said resuming his show was "the hardest thing I've ever done."

On Comedy Central's
Daily Show, which resumed last Thursday, host Jon Stewart quipped, " 'Subliminable' is not a punch line anymore," referring to the oft-repeated jab at President Bush's pronunciation. "One day, it will become that again, Lord willing, because it will mean we've ridden out the storm."

Immediately after the attacks, Comedy Centralexecs met to decide whether the channel should switch to alternative programming, but Executive Vice President of Programming Bill Hilary
voted to stick with the schedule. "You need some refuge," he said.

However, Daily Show
and Saturday Night Live
reruns poking fun at Bush have been shelved.

During Politically Incorrect
last Monday, panelist Dinesh D'Souza disagreed with President Bush's reference to the suicide bombers as "cowards," arguing that the terrorists gave their lives for a cause.

Maher responded, "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." Sears and FedEx lifted ads the next day, and, later, Citadel Communications, which runs ABC affiliates in Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb. pulled Maher's show until further notice. Maher, in public statements, conceded he'd been insensitive.

More fallout

Canceling the Radio-Television News Directors Association
convention the week of the terrorist attacks cost RTNDA $2 million, or half its annual revenue, and a shortfall of $400,000 to $800,000, but the organization hopes to avoid layoffs. There's a movement to have would-be attendees forfeit their refunds to cushion the blow to the organization. ...

ABC News
decided last Monday to no longer air the video of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Saying that gratuitous use of the footage is inappropriate, ABC News management said that still pictures should be used unless the video is "critical" to the piece. ...

Not surprisingly, Dick Wolf
and NBC
have opted to pull the plug on their planned Law & Order
miniseries titled Terror,
which features a phony biological terrorist attack in New York City. ...

WSJV(TV)
Elkhart, Ind., last week apologized for airing the 1986 film Delta Force,
a film about a plane hijacking and Middle East terrorism, five days after the attacks on New York and Washington. The station called it a "terrible mistake."

Hollywood exits

Citing the need to cut costs, Universal on Friday became the fifth syndicator to announce it is leaving the NATPE floor in Las Vegas this January. It will take a suite in the Venetian Hotel. ...

After less than a year on the job, Brian Mulligan
resigned as chairman of Fox Television,
citing personal reasons.

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