A Look Ahead

Here’s a preview of the stories we’re working on for Daily Variety tomorrow. These stories will be available on the Variety Web site after midnight Pacific Time. Sign up now to have the top stories emailed to you each day.

EURO: Vivendi Universal is in talks with German rival Bertelsmann about merging their sports rights interests to create a leading pan-European player. Vivendi Universal said it had also agreed to sell its 50% in France’s top mail-order book club France Loisirs to Bertelsmann and is in talks about buying the German group’s half of music site GetMusic. The negotiations between Europe’s two biggest media groups came after Bertelsmann’s Thomas Middelhoff was vacating Vivendi’s board to avoid possible conflict of interest between the groups.

DAYTIME: Regis Philbin will have two shots to win a Daytime Emmy. He’s been nominated as best gameshow host and best talkshow host. After a one-year absence, Susan Lucci has been nominated yet again for lead actress in a drama series. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was eligible for a primetime Emmy for the first time this year, but it still is competing in the Daytime Emmy category as best gameshow.

BOCHCO: Fox fails in attempt to get lawsuit dismissed over Steve Bochco’s claim that Fox shortchanged him on syndication sales of “NYPD Blue.” Suit heading for trial.

PUFFY: As the trial of Sean “Puffy” Combs for handgun possession and bribery in New York State Supreme Court goes to the jury today, making sure his myriad businesses keep running smoothly isn’t likely to be high on his priority list.

MAGS: The New Yorker and Esquire take lion’s share of National Magazine Awards noms, while much hyped mags like Maxim, Talk and O are shut out entirely.

VALENTI: Despite the fact that the year’s bigggest picture is about a guy eating brains, MPAA prexy Jack Valenti tells leery state attorneys general meeting in Washington that Hollywood is stamping out gratuitous gore. He notes number of R-rated movies has dropped dramatically in recent months. They don’t buy it.

VARNEY: Stuart Varney, co-anchor of CNN’s “Moneyline” and one of the cable net’s first employees, has resigned. Beginning March 26, “Moneyline” co-anchor Willow Bay will begin anchoring the show out of New York, working with a regular rotation of correspondents.

OREILLY: Bill O’Reilly has signed a six-year deal with Fox News. Fox News isn’t disclosing financial terms of the deal, but sources say he’ll be getting $4 million a year. In addition to continuing his duties as anchor of “The O’Reilly Factor,” deal includes a series of specials to air on Fox Broadcasting net, several appearances on the net’s “Fox News Sunday” and an option to host a new radio show.

SAG: Working Actors Unite, a six-month-old coalition started by voiceover performers, has announced plans to run a candidate for SAG presidency this fall along with a slate for the guild’s board.

DGA: The Directors Guild of America announces plans for a West Coast Conservation Collection of mint condition prints of new features, starting with films from November 2000. Prints will be housed at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

WGA: The Writers Guild of America is set to brief international writers guilds today on the status of the suspended contract talks with studios. The half-dozen foreign orgs pledged last October to support the WGA if a strike occurs.

DISCOV: Discovery Channel has a new exec VP and G.M., Clark Bunting, who gets promoted from EVP and G.M. of Discovery’s sister Animal Planet. Bunting succeeds Mike Quattrone, who has resigned.

SYNDIE: Feb sweeps ratings for syndication released Wednesday indicate a dreary month of February for the sector, with very few bright spots.

SXSW: Winners of the Austin Film Fest fest.

KAUFMAN: Mark Kaufman named senior veep of music affairs at New Line.

MOSAIC: Jeb Weitzman has joined Mosaic Media Group as a talent manager specializing in new media, music and film.

SOUNDSCAN: The Dave Matthews Band holds onto the No. 1 spot in the album charts, but suffers a massive 62% sales decline. Meanwhile, aging rock vets Aerosmith and R&B diva Eve post strong debuts at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively.

MARLEY: Comedian Bob Marley has signed a deal with Stu Smiley’s Comedy Arts Studios and HBO Independent Productions.

HRTS: Budget line coming from Grego.

BUSINESS

STOCKS: Stocks got bloodied again Wednesday with the blue-chip Dow index sinking below the key 10,000 level, amid unrelenting selling from investors worried about the soft U.S. economy, bleak corporate profits and Japan’s troubled banking sector.

Wednesday, the Nasdaq closed at 1,972.10, down 42.68 points or 2.12%. The Nasdaq has plummeted 60.9% from it high of 5,048.62 in March a year ago. The Dow sank 317.34 points, or 3.08%, to 9,973.46. It was the Dow’s 10th-largest point loss ever as all of its 30 component stocks, the bluest of the blue chips and mainly Old Economy issues, finished in the red. The Dow has now shed almost 900 points since last Thursday.

DISC: Discovery Communications, Liberty cable umprella firm (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet) received a $700 million private placement dividend.

WOMEN: Annenberg Public Policy Center releases report showing that women are underrepresented in top posts at media entertainment companies. They make up only 13% of top execs at media congloms and only 9% of the board of directors. Worse, women hold hardly any “clout positions,” with such companies as AOL Time Warner posting a big zero. “Clout” titles includes chair, CEO, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, among others.

NAB: National Assn. of Broadcasters holds briefing to dispute reports that broadcasters gouged candidates buying ad time during the 2000 election. NAB says FCC rules requiring discounted rates are being followed.

ITV: The ITV network has committed itself to satellite broadcasting in a £100 million ($145 million) capacity deal with Societe Europeenne des Satellites, the group behind the Astra satellites, and a renewal of carriage talks with satcaster BSkyB.

WORLD NEWS

LOTTERY: Robert Altman, Alex Cox and Simon Beaufoy are among the first filmmakers to be awarded lottery coin from the U.K.’s new Film Council.

AMBERLON: Amberlon Pictures, Senator Entertainment and Pleswin Entertainment’s joint London based sales and production entity, is to shutter after just 17 months

ENT: E! Latin America and E! Brazil, the company’s channel ventures in Latin America, have collectively hit the 10-million subscriber mark during the first quarter of 2001.

OWN: Canadian government is about to launch an inquiry into media ownership after three political parties joined forces to complain about interference in press freedom by CanWest Global shareholder Izzy Asper’s son David.

WIRES

VNU: Dutch publisher VNU Wednesday posted full year earnings for 2000 at the top end of analysts’ estimations, and yet received a cold reception from the market.

ITV: Britain’s ITV commercial television network said on Wednesday it had agreed to a deal with European satellite operator Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES) to broadcast its channels on digital satellite television.

REVIEWS

FILM: Amy’s Orgasm (Loewenstein); Orphan (McCarthy)

CONCERT: Benny Green, Jazz Bakery; Jane Monheit, Algonquin

LEGIT: Fifth & Spring, Lex

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