News, Nov. 17: ABC Apologizes for Sexy MNF Segment, Rapper Wanted for Vibe Award Stabbing, Disney’s Eisner Calls Ovitz Elitist, More…

ABC apologizes for sexy MNF segment

ABC has apologized for its intro to Monday Night Football, which featured a locker room encounter between actress Nicolette Sheridan and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens–just moments before the game against the Dallas Cowboys. Wrapped in a towel but showing less skin than a Cowboys cheerleader, Sheridan asks Owen to miss the game for her–then drops the towel and jumps into his arms when he wavers. With Sheridan‘s back visible, Owens smiles and says, “Aw, hell. Team’s gonna’ have to win this one without me.” The shot then cuts to actresses Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman, who are watching the scene unfold on TV from the living room sofa. The spot was meant to be a spoof of ABC’s hit show Desperate Housewife, which stars Sheridan, Hatcher and Huffman, but the NFL and its growingly conservative fan base apparently didn’t get the joke. “While ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement, calling the intro “inappropriate and unsuitable for our “Monday Night Football audience.” The Eagles jumped on the apology bandwagon, adding: “It is normal for teams to cooperate with ABC in the development of an opening for its broadcast. After seeing the final piece, we wish it hadn’t aired.” ABC eventually succumbed to the pressure and apologized for the segment. “We have heard from many of our viewers about last night’s MNF opening segment and we agree that the placement was inappropriate,” the network said. “We apologize.”

Rapper wanted for Vibe award stabbing

Police are searching for rapper Young Buck of the group G-Unit in connection with a stabbing at the Vibe Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., Monday night, The Associated Press reports. Buck, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, fled the show after a brawl broke out just as Snoop Dogg and Vibe magazine founder Quincy Jones were about to present hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre with a lifetime achievement award. Dre, who was seated at a table in front of the stage, was punched him in the face by a man later identified as Jimmy James Johnson. According to police, Johnson was attacked by a number of people, including Brown, and stabbed as he was dragged away by security staff. A warrant for Brown is being prepared alleging assault with a deadly weapon.

Eisner said Ovitz too elitist for Disney

In his second day of testimony in the shareholder lawsuit over Michael Ovitz‘s $140 million severance package, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner said he spent most of 1996 controlling the president he had hired a year earlier. “Every day I was trying to manage Michael Ovitz,” he said. “I did little else.” Eisner also described Ovitz as a man unable to adjust to Disney’s corporate culture: “The perception was that Michael Ovitz was a little elitist for the egalitarian Walt Disney World employees in Florida. It was a bad vibe, let’s put it that way.” Eisner‘s testimony came in the fifth week of a shareholder lawsuit that charges Eisner and the board should have fired Ovitz rather than allow him to leave the company with a no-fault termination and the severance package. But Eisner insists firing Ovitz for cause was out of the question. “I checked with almost anyone I could find that had a legal degree and there was just no light in that possibility,” he said. “That was a dead end from day one.”

Michael Jackson sued by former partner

A former business associate of Michael Jackson filed a breach-of-contract suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the pop star Tuesday, Reuters reports. J. Marc Schaffel claims Jackson owes him $3 million in unpaid loans, cash advances and producing fees for two Fox TV specials he produced to rebut Martin Bashir’s controversial ABC documentary that took a critical look at the entertainer’s oddball lifestyle. According to the lawsuit, Schaffel is seeking $3 million in damages, including $2.2 million he said the singer owed him for loans and cash advances for “shopping sprees” and other expenses, including money to “pay Marlon Brando to appear at Jackson‘s concert” and to “buy jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor.”

D’Onofrio lands back in the hospital

Vincent D’Onofrio, star of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, was back in a hospital Tuesday after fainting for the second time in a week, the AP reports. The actor was hospitalized for two days last week after he fainted rehearsing a strenuous scene for the NBC drama. He had been expected to return to work Tuesday, but fainted again late Monday at his New York home and returned to the hospital for further observation and testing, series spokeswoman Pam Ruben Golum told AP. “He’s in good spirits and producers are optimistic he’ll be released soon,” Golum said. Initial tests did not reveal any health problems, she added.

CBS whodunits top the ratings

CBS hit list of crime dramas–CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and Without a Trace–were the three most popular prime-time programs last week, according to Nielsen Media Research. CBS won the week, averaging 15 million viewers followed by NBC (11.3 million); ABC (10.4 million); Fox (7.4 million); the WB (3.8 million); and UPN (3.7 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS; CSI: Miami, CBS; Without a Trace, CBS; Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS; ER, NBC; CBS Sunday Movie: Category 6: Day of Destruction, Part 1, CBS; Country Music Association Awards, CBS; Lost, ABC; Cold Case, CBS; NFL Monday Night Football: Minnesota at Indianapolis, ABC.

Kit Bowen contributed to this report.