Top Story: Academy Miffed About Oscar Tape Delay
ABC's decision to impose a five-second tape delay on the Feb. 29 Oscar telecast isn't sitting well with Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pierson wrote in a letter to the Academy's membership: "Even a very brief tape delay introduces a form of censorship into a broadcast--not direct governmental control, but it means that a network representative is in effect guessing at what a government might tolerate, which can be even worse." Although this is the first time a time delay has been imposed on the Oscar telecast, a spokeswoman for ABC told The Reporter the network has used tape delays for other live broadcasts in the past in order to better deal with potential technical problems--even before the Super Bowl halftime incident. Pierson, however, warned that even though the delay is aimed at stamping out individual words, the principal of the delay could mean wide-ranging consequences down the road. "How long," Pierson asks, "before not only words but ideas become subject to deletion?"
DJ Rick Dees Ends Morning Radio Show
Los Angeles-based disc jockey Rick Dees has ended his 22-year run as host of a popular syndicated morning radio program, The Associated Press reports. The 53-year-old Dees, who has been on the air since 1982, didn't elaborate on why he was leaving the show. "It has been decided that I will no longer be doing the daily morning radio show on KIIS-FM," he said on air during his last broadcast Tuesday. "To my morning team and the entire KIIS staff over the years, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude." Dees, however, will continue to host the Weekly Top 40 radio program, which is internationally syndicated through Premier Radio Networks Inc. KIIS-FM owner Clear Channel Communications had no statement but referred inquiries to Dees' statement. Being courted as a replacement for Dees is none other than American Idol host and DJ Ryan Seacrest, who is also set to replace radio icon Casey Kasem as host of the weekly pop countdown show American Top 40.
Reba Takes Break From Reba
Reba McEntire has made a couple of last-minute calls saying that she cannot return to work on the set of her WB sitcom Reba because of a "family emergency" in Oklahoma. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, rumors have surfaced that McEntire is unhappy with her current salary on the show, which ranks as the WB's strongest comedy. Sources, however, also told The Reporter that the country star is expected to return to work Wednesday and that her reps have made no formal overtures about renegotiating her contract. The WB, the show's producer, 20th Century Fox TV, and reps for McEntire declined comment Tuesday. This was McEntire's second break in four weeks.
Investors Sue Restaurant Chef Rocco
China Grill Management, the group that financed Rocco DiSpirito's Italian restaurant on 22nd street in New York for the NBC's reality series The Restaurant, sued the celebrity chef in Manhattan's state Supreme Court, accusing him of mismanaging the eatery, resulting in a loss of more than a half million dollars, the AP reports. The show, which ran last summer, followed Rocco and his staff through the opening and operation of the restaurant, but investors charges that the food's quality has been widely criticized and that the restaurant has failed to turn a profit. China Grill seeks unspecified money damages and wants a judgment that they alone own the restaurant. The Restaurant is expected to begin a second limited run this summer.
Black Eye for the Nerdy Guy?
If a quintet of queer guys can make a straight guy stylish, can a handful of black guys infuse some cool into a bunch of drips? Showtime is about to find out. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has ordered a pilot for Make Me Cool, the working title for a primetime reality series in which a cast of stylish blacks helps the uncool of all races overcome their obstacles. Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's entertainment president, said the premise made sense. "A lot of the coolest stuff emanates from the black culture. That culture seems to have the hold on stuff that is going to be cool tomorrow--they know it today." He added that the show would be edgier than Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. "I think the dialogue between different cultures and races will be more explicit and frank," he said. If the pilot is greenlighted, Cool could air by year's end.
FCC Wants Tougher Penalties for Broadcasters
On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell told the Senate Commerce Committee, which has received more than 200,000 complaints about Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show, that there should be tougher penalties against broadcasters who violate indecency laws. "Action must be taken by the entire television and radio industry to heed the public's outcry and take affirmative steps to curb the race to the bottom," he said. Powell and four other FCC commissioners are expected to present their case today in front of the House telecommunications subcommittee. The House panel will also hear from National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Viacom Inc. President Mel Karmazin, the Associated Press reports.
Harrelson To Make Second Eco-Awareness Trip
Woody Harrelson, whose spring 2001 trip down California's Pacific Coast Highway to raise awareness for ecological issues was recorded in Ron Mann's documentary Go Further, announced plans Tuesday for a second trip. "The first trip, we were sort of preaching to the choir, since the West Coast is pretty ecologically aware," Harrelson told The Hollywood Reporter. "The next one, we want to go to tougher territory--starting in Massachusetts and heading down to Florida." For his second eco-awareness trip, Harrelson, a longtime ecological activist, will hit the road in a bio-fueled bus once he completes work on the screwball comedy Jack Tucker, Trucker for Bad Santa director John Requa. Go Further, meanwhile, premiered Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The Simpsons: The Movie, at Last?
After years of speculation, could it finally be happening? According to Variety, The Simpson creators Matt Groening and James L Brooks are leading a team of writers in actively developing an animated big-screen feature based on the long-running Fox hit. "They've wanted to do this since season two. It's been 13 years of wanting to do
On Monday, the Director's Guild of America announced their nominees for best director for a TV movie: the honorees are Billy Crystal for 61*, Robert Allan Ackerman for Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, Jon Avnet for Uprising, Frank Pierson for Conspiracy and Mark Rydell for James Dean. The DGA Awards will be presented March 9.
Meg Ryan will soon begin filming Against the Ropes--a story based on Jackie Kallen, the first female boxing manager--with Omar Epps co-starring and Charles Dutton directing, Variety reports. Kallen led a total of four middleweights to championships.
Kevin Spacey's production company Trigger Street Prods. will see their first documentary, Uncle Frank, on the big screen soon. The Berlin Intl. Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, will present the film--along with several others--as a special screening, Variety reports. Uncle Frank takes a look at old people's homes in New York.
Catherine Zeta-Jones will soon be the new face of Elizabeth Arden and apparently both parties are happy about the contract, People reports. A spokesperson for Arden said the beautiful 32-year-old Welsh actress "is the epitome of personal style." Zeta-Jones gushed, "I am proud to be part of the company."
Looks like more than Patriot fans walked away happy from Sunday's Super Bowl. Neither advertisers nor Fox can complain about the 86.8 million TV viewer average, the Los Angeles Times reports. The toughest competition was NBC's halftime Playboy Playmate episode of Fear Factor, which only held a mere 11.4 million viewers captive. Approximately 83 million watched U2's half-time tribute to the Sept. 11 victims.
Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita Jordan have announced they will "attempt a reconciliation," Reuters reports. After 12 years of marriage, Juanita cited irreconcilable differences as reason for the couple's split, but has now withdrawn her divorce petition.
Just because he's no longer the acting President of the United States, Bill Clinton still has fun playing politics. Saturday, Clinton attended a birthday party for a former staffer where he hobnobbed with senators, and Sunday, he hosted a Super Bowl party for guests ranging from Chris Tucker to Alec Baldwin, PageSix.com reports. Just in time for a nightcap, Mr. Clinton picked up a 10:30 p.m. cocktail at the Waldorf to raise money for his William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
HBO is moving up its movie version of The Laramie Project, starring Janeane Garofalo and Steve Buscemi, to March 9 from March 16 because the latter date happens to coincide with NBC's premiere of The Matthew Shepard Story, starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston, the LA Times reports. What's the big deal? The two movies recount the same incident--the 1998 murder of gay college student Sam Shepard--and the networks don't want to compete for viewers.
Tune in to MTV on Valentine's Day if your heart beats true blue--red, white and blue, that is. Secretary of State Colin Powell will sit down with youths across the globe to answer questions on politics and current events. Powell will take questions from people at MTV locations around the world, and the program will be translated into multiple languages.
The WB is getting ready for their fall line-up, complete with comedies and dramas aplenty. And though about the same number of pilot shows will be produced this year as last by the WB, the focus is very clearly on "family and teen appeal," Variety reports.
Pay-per-view (PPV) movies that have had a theatrical release seem to be the most popular items on PPV these days, as revenues for released movies jumped 54% to $1.354 billion, Variety reports. Live events, such as boxing and wrestling, have fallen on hard times, due to lack of headliners (boxing) and market consolidation (wrestling).