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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 e-mailed to you each day.

DISNEY: Disney will shed 4,000 workers, or 3% of its workforce, through “voluntary layoffs.”

TURNER: At their upfront presentation for advertisers in New York, Time Warner AOL cable nets TNT and TBS announced their branding campaigns and programming initiatives: TNT will now target drama, while TBS continue to go after the “regular guy.” Both nets say they are in a strong position in case of a strike. TNT has eleven episodes of “Bull” that have never been broadcast, which may never air if there’s no strike. NASCAR will air on TNT, rather than TBS.

PGA: Tom Mount steps down as prexy of the PGA, with Kathleen Kennedy set to take the reins.

GREEN: Randy Greenberg is appointed senior VP of international marketing and distribution for Universal, reporting to Marc Shmuger. This in some ways fills the duties of Nadia Bronson, who exited as president in January, but Greenberg’s comes in at a lesser job level.

SLATER: Ending weeks of speculation, EMI taps vet producer and manager Andy Slater as prexy and CEO of Capitol Records. Interim prexy Roy Lott will return to his prior gig as deputy president of EMI North America.

RATES: ABC won the week thanks to the Oscars, but once again was way down vs. a year ago. CBS was second, driven by a “Survivor” highlights show and year-to-year gains for the NCAA basketball tourney.

GMA: The Oscars might not have gotten great ratings for ABC in primetime, but Oscar coverage drove ABC’s “Good Morning America” to its highest overnight ratings in more than two years.

WGA: Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have mapped out the process for going on strike should upcoming negotiations fail to produce an acceptable deal. The Guild, which has not yet set a date for re-launching contract talks, recently disclosed the details to its 11,500 members in the wake of the March 1 suspension of the negotiations. No dates have been set for ratification and strike authorization votes.

IMAX: Imax names Greg Foster to the new post of president, filmed entertainment.

WRITESTUFF: A book based on the historical Hannibal has sold to “Saving Grace” producer Mark Crowdy and his London shingle Home Run Films. Book is published by Cannon Gate, an Edinborough Press that is forming an ambitious independent press consortium with Gotham-based Grove Atlantic. WMA has signed on to rep both companies for film; J.K. Rowling’s agent Christopher Little talks about “Potter” piracy; Bjork shops a book.

SAGEARN: The Screen Actors Guild has announced a 5% decline in reported earnings last year to $1.59 billion due to the six-month strike against advertisers.

RIAA: The RIAA will hold a press conference at 7 p.m. to discuss a response it will file in District Court to filings by Napster concerning its compliance with the court’s injunction.

NAPSTER: Napster is urging fans to march on Washington on April 3, when the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearing on online entertainment.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL: The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Wynton Marsalis with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra will join forces to perform and record the trumpeter’s “All Rise” for Sony Music on Sept. 13 at the Hollywood Bowl.

NBA: The National Basketball Assn. has signed a multi-year programming deal with Primedia teen network Channel One, which will give the network access to coverage of all major NBA and WNBA events as well as various players’ participation as network broadcast co-hosts.

RIMES: In what could be a setback for LeAnn Rimes’ suit against her father and her label, the teen singing star is caught on tape contradicting previous public statements and bragging about faking tears in the courtroom for sympathy, according to copies of the tapes obtained by the Nashville Tennessean.

LADEMO: Demographic results for Los Angeles station perfs during the February sweep.

FOOD: Food Network’s upfront presentation.

PLAYERS: Casting news

PINTER: The Lincoln Center Festival 2001 will offer a festival of nine plays by Harold Pinter, to be performed by the Almeida Theatre, the Gate Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre.

TENPERCENTERIES: News on agency representation.

INSIDE MOVE

SAG: Screen Actors Guild national meetings get off to an acrimonious start as associate national exec director John McGuire tries to kick New York president Lisa Scarola out of a finance committee meeting at the Sheraton Universal.

BUSINESS

SES/GE: Societe Europeene des Satellites, parent of Europe’s Astra satellite system, is understood to be buying General Electric’s satellite operations in a $5 billion deal. SES, which carries satcaster BSkyB and the ITV network’s digital channels, has long been seeking a foothold in the U.S.

LASER-PACIFIC: L.A. post group Laser-Pacific Media Tuesday posted sharp declines in fourth-quarter and year-end earnings — despite revenue gains — due to difficult comparisons with year-ago figures swelled by a one-time research and development agreement with Sony.

NEWS CORP.: News Corp. promotes veteran labor exec Dean Ferris to the post of executive VP of labor relations for News America.

UPC: U.S.-Dutch cable provider United Pan-Europe Communication (UPC) has confirmed it is in negotiations for a possible stake in German cabler Primacom. Entity would be Germany’s second largest cable company.

PATHE: France Television is said to be in talks to acquire 50% of Pathe Sport, the sports-themed channel owned by the Pathe group. The pubcaster is also reportedly talking to Canal Plus.

WORLD NEWS

DYKE: Director general of pubcaster BBC Greg Dyke has lashed out at how the TV rights to 2002 World Cup soccer are being sold in the U.K.

DISSIX: Walt Disney Television Intl. plans to offer six of Disney’s animation features as a package at Mip-TV in Cannes next week, marking a new direction for how the Mouse sells to broadcasters overseas.

GUSINSKY: Hopes have risen for the acquittal of Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky. Citing “judicial sources,” press reports claimed Tuesday that Spain’s National Court of Criminal Justice has decided to dismiss Russia’s extradition request.

RAI: Two directors of pubcaster RAI quit the board over the weekend to protest RAI prexy Roberto Zaccaria’s alleged political bias.

MEDUSA: Veteran Italian acquisitions executive Faruk Alatan has ended his 16-year relationship with the Cecchi Gori Group to join leading national distributor Medusa and its sister company, TV rights division Mediatrade, as senior film acquisitions advisor.

PLANETA: Planeta 2010, the aggressive start-up film and TV arm of Spanish publisher Planeta, has closed an output deal for Spain on the library of German pubcaster ZDF.

PAYTV: Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting has asked the government to postpone payment of its $11 million pay TV license deposit for six months so that it can find investors.

BUCK: German producer Boje Buck and its distrib Delphi are the latest Teutonic players to join the Producers’ AG (PAG). Launched last year, PAG seeks majority stakes in indie film and TV companies while bringing the owners on board as shareholders.

STER: Ster Century, the European trading brand of South African cinema operator Ster Kinekor, will open its first multi in Spain, April 20: a 12-screen, 3,000-seat plex. One of the screens will be among the biggest in Europe.

REVIEWS

FILM: Sleepless

LEGIT: New Yorkers (Off B’Way)

TV: My Wife and Kids, ABC (Wed.); War Games, TBS (Wed.)

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