Inside Moves

Clinton jokes, ABC smokes

Relieved to have “Monicagate” behind him, President Bill Clinton has plunged head first into “Leogate,” the controversy surrounding an interview that Leo DiCaprio conducted with the president for ABC News.

At the Radio and Television Correspondents Assn. dinner Thursday in Washington, D.C. — with the theme from “Titanic” playing in the background — Clinton joked that “ABC doesn’t know whether Leo and I had an interview, a walk-through or a drive-by.”

In recent days, ABC News topper David Westin has been backing away from the interview, which is slated to appear in an ABC News Earth Day special, calling the meeting between the two men a “walk-through” after staffers complained about having an actor represent the news division.

“Don’t you news people ever learn? It isn’t the mistake that kills you. It’s the cover up,” the president joked.

An ABC News spokeswoman said Clinton’s jibes were “expected” and that “we thought he was very funny.” The Earth Day special is in production and the spokeswoman said that “whatever we put on the air will meet ABC News standards.”


— Paula Bernstein

Telefonica eyes U.S., Latin America

Telefonica’s giant film and TV subsid Telefonica Media looks set to continue its company acquisitions spree. Its targets: Spain, Latin America and the Latino market in the U.S.

Faced with the added bugbear of tumbling new economy stocks, Telefonica prexy Juan Villalonga told shareholders April 7 that he was canceling TM’s June stock listing. Flotation is now skedded for the fall.

“Content companies worldwide are currently undervalued. If we continue growing, their share value will appreciate,” Villalonga argued. Following Telefonica’s $5.3 billion purchase of Endemol last month, TM’s growth could come in several areas:

  • Telefonica Media is negotiating a stake in the Clarin-owned, Argentinean multisystem cable operator Multicanal.

  • TM has reached an in-principle agreement to buy 30% of Spain’s biggest niche-channel packager, Media Park, currently held by utility company Iberdrola. TM is also angling for Catalan pubcaster CCRTV’s 18% share.

  • TM is prepping two undisclosed but “big operations,” said a source, one in Brazil, another in the Latino U.S., reportedly involving Sony-owned Telemundo.

A further encumbrance to a June float was the current mishmash of Telefonica’s media and Internet interests, sprawling over TM, Endemol and Internet company Terra. TM prexy Jose Antonio Rios and Endemol topper John de Mol host a Mip cocktail party on Tuesday. They may suggest at least how TM and Endemol mesh in Telefonica.


— John Hopewell

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