Preview tomorrow's Daiy Variety articles today

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LACK: Andy Lack has been named president and chief operating officer of NBC. Lack will oversee Entertainment, NBC News and MSNBC, NBC Stations, CNBC, operations, sales and affiliate relations and NBC Cable. Bob Wright will continue to serve as vice chairman and executive officer of NBC’s parent company GE.

SAG: Outlook brightens for the Screen Actors Guild making a deal without a strike as producers chief negotiator Nick Counter declares that chances are better than 50-50 that an agreement will be reached before the June 30 contract deadline. “With reasonable minds, we should be able to do it by June 30,” he says at a breakfast held by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

WGA: Writers Guild of America boards of directors approve tentative deal, sending it on to membership for ratification.

SAMAHA: Hollywood producer and Franchise Pictures chairman Elie Samaha partners with Paris-based financier and producer Tarak Ben Ammar to form Dante Entertainment, a production and sales company based in L.A. Dante expects to invest $250 million-$300 million annually to produce and distribute three to four “event” titles.

SMITH: Culling again from the business operations ranks to fill a key post, Jeff Blake has named Paul Smith exec veepee of marketing and distribution for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.

RATES: A gargantuan Thursday, courtesy of the “Survivor” finale, vaulted CBS to victories last week in total viewers and key demos, but NBC hung in there surprisingly well — both on Thursday and for the week.

SHREK: DreamWorks will release its highly anticipated animation feature “Shrek” two days early, on May 16, in New York and Los Angeles.

SKOLNIK: Seth Skolnik has been upped to senior veep, biz development, Paramount Digital Entertainment. Short.

CYBERBIZ: In the building battle between digital distribution services, TRW’s PicturePipeline has landed several Warner Bros. and Disney films as clients; other music briefs.

THIRD: Producer Arthur Sarkissian (“Rush Hour”) has acquired the rights to “The Third Insight,” penned by Dan Chung.

MP3: Songwriters Randy Newman, Tom Waits and 1980s rock group Heart jump on the MP3.com litigation bandwagon, suing the site for $40 million related to the company’s My.MP3.com digital locker service. MP3 has already paid out nearly $170 million to labels and publishers in legal settlements.

AFI: The American Film Institute has tapped Los Angeles Film School founder and former prexy Carolyn Pfeiffer as vice dean of the AFI Conservatory.

PRYOR: Marketing firm Pryor & Assoc. has upped Gabriella Alaimo Thomas to VP and general manager of the firm’s L.A. headquarters.

MORE CANNES

REGISTER: The Cannes Film Market looks set to be a bumper event this year, with 28% more movies screening and attendance up at least 12.5%.

IAC: Jim Gillespie’s “Julian” and Mike Barker’s “Cromwell and Fairfax” head the new slate of movies from London-based sales company IAC Films. “Julian,” an $18 million chiller, marks the return to Blighty of Scottish helmer Gillespie (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”).

LAUREN: Spain’s top indie distrib Lauren attempts to band together Spanish producers to create a national pic production concern.

WORLD

BERLUSCONI: The general election is looming in Italy, but media mogal-turned-politico Silvio Berlusconi has decided not to reveal whether he is to sell his Mediaset TV group to avoid conflict of interest, contrary to his promise to divulge such info.

GLOBO: Brazil’s multisystem operator Globo Cabo is refusing to carry the Ministry of Culture’s newly launched TV Cultura e Arte channel.

LOFT: Reality show “Loft Story” is upping ad rates and auds for M6 — now it’s going head-to-head with rival TF1’s gameshow “Bigdil.”

LAUREN: Spain’s No. 1 indie distribbery, Antonio Llorens’ Lauren Films, is inking accords with many of the country’s top pic producers as it plows into the theatrical and video distribution of local pics.

WILSON: Douglas Wilson is ankling his post as VP of international production at Lolafilms to head up a new — and ambitious — production operation at distrib Tripictures.

EURO: European news channel EuroNews started broadcasting by satellite to Britain on Wednesday.

BUSINESS

CROSS: An apparently divided FCC unexpectedly delays review of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule. FCC was set to launch the review at Thursday’s meeting. Whether the News Corp./Chris Craft merger will be further delayed is not clear. Merger needs a cross-ownership waiver.

CAP: Affils tell court they will be crushed by networks if the robes strike down a 35% national ownership cap. In related news, the same court rejects a call by public interest groups to reinstate the 30% national cable cap.

RAINBOW: Newly public Rainbow Media and parent Cablevision report strong first-quarter earnings.

COMCAST: Philly-based cabler reports revenue rose to $2.2 billion from $1.2 billion thanks to growth at its core cable, electronic retailing and content businesses but higher operating costs, depreciation and amortization pushed it to an operating loss of $100 million from a profit of $41 million.

RACE: Go Racing, the consortium of Channel 4, satcaster BSkyB and racecourse owner Arena Leisure, plans to launch a pay TV horse racing channel in April 2002 in a deal worth up to £400 million ($560 million).

NTL: NTL, the U.K.’s No. 1 cable operator, is raising additional funding by issuing $500 million in bonds.

REVIEWS

TV: Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (ABC); Living Dolls (HBO); Blonde (CBS); Take a Girl Like You (PBS)

MUSIC: Jah Wobble (concert)

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