Preview tomorrow's <I>Daily Variety</I> articles today

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.

NBCI: NBC is buying money losing portal NBCi for $85 million in cash and will shut down the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Stock has gone from a high of around $100 a share to its current trading price of $2/share. The idea is to fold the company into its inhouse operations in a much smaller form, meaning that 300 employees will be pinkslipped.

WGA: Writers Guild negotiations will restart on April 17, nearly seven weeks after they collapsed.

WAIVER: Screen Actors Guild prexy William Daniels declares he is strongly in favor of granting strike waivers, but stresses that the ultimate decision will be up to SAG’s negotiating committee.

SAG: Screen Actors Guild and state Senate president pro tem John Burton will announce dates for hearings on agent rules. News conference is at noon.

MAYOR: Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan will announce launch of an economic impact study about the pending strikes.

PPV: Pay-per-view events generated $62.7 million for the first quarter of 2001, down by 4% from the same period a year ago. The three events that led the category in 1st quarter 2000 were the WWF’s “Royal Rumble,” the Evander Holyfield-John Ruiz boxing match and the WWF’s “No Way Out.”

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: Comedy Central, which in part made its mark by airing the BBC’s “Absolutely Fabulous,” is reviving the show as an original series, by making a co-production deal with the BBC to produce episodes with the original cast and producers this month.

WB INTL: Nancy Carson becomes second in command at Warners international distribution.

DILLER: USA Network filed proxy with exec salary. Barry Diller got a $1.7 million bonus for the first time in a few years.

NAPSTER: Napster now claims to have blocked more than 1.7 million files from its service and substantially improved its filtering technology in a compliance report filed last week with the U.S. District Court.

CANTOR: Arthur Cantor, who produced “A Thousand Clowns” and “On Golden Pond” in New York City, died of a heart attack at Mount Sinai Hospital on April 8. He was 81.

GRAF: Character actor David Graf, best known for his roles in the “Police Academy” movies, has died at age 49. He was a member of the Screen Actors Guild board.

CYBERBIZ: Tech briefs.

INSIDE MOVE

CNBC: Once again, Stuart Varney is playing backup to Lou Dobbs. Dobbs was all set to host a CNBC special on the first 100 days of the Bush administration when CNN cited his non-compete clause and said he couldn’t. So now CNBC has turned to Varney, who took over Dobbs’ “Moneyline” anchor spot on CNN before ankling weeks ago. Meanwhile, both of the financial newsies could end up at CNBC, which is looking to sign them.

BUSINESS

ROMAN: It suddenly appears as if a planned takeover of TV and film animator Film Roman may be off, with parties working toward a stretched deadline of Friday for saving the deal.

EU: Rights holders in Europe will soon be able to use encryption to prevent illegal copying of their work on the Internet, following an agreement reached Monday by EU industry ministers.

AT&T: AT&T has filed to sell some $1.94 million in Cablevision shares to raise cash for the telecom giant’s debt-reduction campaign.

IMAX: Bigscreen movie company Imax has inked a $15 million deal to supply 400 digital billboards for the London Underground train network.

SINCLAIR: Broadcaster says revenue will exceed guidance it gave the Street previously, unusual since most companies have been lowering expectations.

WORLD NEWS

DREAM: Jeffrey Katzenberg on Monday defended DreamWorks’ re-negotiation of its multi-year distribution pact with Vivendi Universal, vowing that the production company “is not trying to make a killer deal” at the expense of U’s new French shareholder.

SILVIO: A confidential report by international auditing group KPMG has revealed that Silvio Berlusconi’s media and finance private holding company Fininvest created and used 64 offshore companies between 1989 and 1996 to hide “important strategic and economic deals.”

STREAM: Vivendi Universal and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. have finally confirmed they are in talks to merge their loss-making pay TV platforms, Telepiu and Stream, after a week of rumor.

AUDS: French theaters are packing them in with 58 million ticket sales in the first quarter of 2001, up 24% on the same period last year, the Centre National de la Cinematographie said Monday.

GALAXY: Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting, a subsid of Hong Kong’s dominant terrestrial network TVB, may be having second thoughts about entering the pay TV market.

BEMUSIC: German media giant Bertelsmann is developing BeMusic, bringing together the world’s largest online CD retailer and its largest music club into a division worth $1 billion in revenues and commanding 15 million customers.

REVIEWS

LEGIT: Animals, Gambler (Opera)

MUSIC: Ani DiFranco; Olu Dara, Conga Room; Bela Fleck, Wiltern; Guided by Voices, House of Blues

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