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 e-mailed to you each day.

CBS: CBS pulls out of NAB, saying they can’t be part of a trade org that works against the net’s interests. In this instance, NAB continues to supports the 35% ownership cap, which CBS is trying to get overturned in court. Only net left at NAB is ABC.

STRIKE: The certainty of a recession could actually carry a silver lining for Hollywood as a way out of back-to-back strikes by actors and writers. UCLA Anderson Business Forecast announced at its conference Wednesday that a recession this year has become nearly a certainty as it boosted its probability to 90% from 60%.

DISH: Screenwriter Chris Brancato and former network exec Bert Salke have formed a production company and have a pilot for FX called “Dope” about the drug trade. Film projects also in the works.

HERLIHY: Scribe Tim Herlihy, who penned “The Wedding Singer” and, with Adam Sandler, co-wrote “The Waterboy,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Billy Madison,” has been tapped for a blind script commitment at Disney. Writer will be paid seven figures; Robert Simonds is committed to produce the pic for the Mouse House.

CABLERS: Senate antitrust subcommittee fumed about climbing cable rates at a hearing Wednesday, saying cablers are acting like monopolies and circumventing the law by depriving satellite operators of crucial programming, such as sports. Senators lash out at Comcast for declining an invitation to testify, with Sen. Arlen Spector saying he can always use a subpoena to get cablers to the Hill.

STALKER: Arnold Entertainment (“Return to Paradise”) has acquired feature and television rights to the true-life crime book “The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Notorious Serial Murderer Richard Ramirez” by Philip Carlo.

SOUNDSCAN: Slain rapper Tupac Shakur returns from the grave to claim the No. 1 spot on the SoundScan album charts — unseating veteran chart-topper Shaggy.

TITUS: Fox renews frosh laffer “Titus” for a third season.

WB: Longtime exec John Litvack has been upped to executive vice president of current programming and primetime scheduling at the WB. He previously oversaw current programming as senior VP. Combining current and scheduling is unusual — NBC tried it last year but later opted to separate the two jobs after problems arose as current and skedding execs frequently go head-to-head when it comes to finding a home for a show.

MTV-RIOPORT: MTVi and Rioport pact to offer limited music downloads from all five major labels through MTVi sites for 99¢ to $1.99 per track.

MUSIC: Eric McCormack, star of “Will & Grace,” to replace Craig Bierko as Prof. Harold Hill in the current Broadway production of “The Music Man.”

RATES: ABC’s “What About Joan” dropped somewhat in its second week but still looks pretty strong.


JOE: Joe Eszterhas, the writer who seemed at war with Hollywood through much of his career, has quietly packed his bags and gone away without good-byes to friends or associates.

BUSH: The Republicans and the Democrats are debating the merits of Comedy Central’s new show “That’s My Bush” — at least that’s what Comedy Central wants people to think. The cable net is behind an ad campaign featuring posters with quotes from fictional political parties that either smear the show or sing its praises.


DEPARDIEU: Gerard Depardieu and his son Guillaume will star in the 35 million franc “Honor Thy Father,” a feature film about the complex relationship between an father and son.

LOON: German kidvidder TV Loonland has licensed close to 1,000 half-hours to Russia’s Nox Music in a bid to penetrate the former Soviet Union.

BV: Buena Vista Intl. Television has sold “Wingspan,” the feature length doc on Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles career, to the U.K.’s Channel 4.

MGM: Expanding its presence in the international broadcasting market, MGM is establishing a 24-hour digital branded movie channel in New Zealand.

DISCOVERY: Discovery Networks Europe is partnering with Italy’s Mediatrade to co-produce seven hour-long documentaries.


NEWS: Rupert’s son Lachlan Murdoch said company will proceed with its IPO of Sky Global Network when market conditions improve. At a conference in Sydney, Australia today, he also said talks with direcTV are slow and difficult but still ongoing.

HYPERION: Robert Miller, head of Hyperion Books, has been promoted to president, reporting to Disney prexy Bob Iger. Move comes in the midst of exec shuffle at Hyperion.

NTV: CNN founder Ted Turner has signed an “outline stock deal” with the owner of Russia’s only independent television network, Vladimir Gusinsky, CNN said Wednesday.

MIDDELHOFF: Merger talks with EMI and Vivendi Universal are going smoothly, according to Bertelsmann prexy Thomas Middelhoff, adding that the German media giant was getting into shape for a public listing in the next few years.

ENDEMOL: Endemol, the Dutch production giant, is buying 100% of London-based youth TV producer Brighter Pictures.

KOREA: EchoStar Communications Corp. is negotiating to take an equity stake in Korea Digital Satellite Broadcasting , scheduled to launch at the end of the year.


DISNEY LATIN AMERICA: Walt Disney TV Intl. Latin America has sold Colombian kiddie novela “Baby Sister” to broadcasters Televisa in Mexico and Azul TV in Argentina, marking its first foray into the soap genre.

TASCA: Government announces plans to boost script writing and film distribution in France.

CANNES: Charlotte Rampling, Maria de Medeiros and Erick Zonca are to open the Cannes Film Festival ball on May 9, fest prexy Gilles Jacob announced Wednesday.

MESSIER: Jean-Marie Messier, chairman and chief exec of Vivendi Universal, is to sue Klaus Esser for defamation over statements made by the former chief exec of German telecom company Mannesmann in a newspaper interview.

CANAL: Vivendi Universal’s Canal Plus Group wants to merge loss-making MultiThematiques, which owns and produces theme channels in Europe, with U’s theme channels.


LEGIT: Oxygen, Passion Play (Off Broadway), They Shoot Horses, Der Rosenkavalier (opera)

FILM: Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre

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