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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 emailed to you each day.

INTERNATIONAL: Simultaneous domestic and international movie releasing could help fight pic piracy, which is booming in the new digital age, but distribs say such a practice will spread only incrementally, as foreign territories still require special handling.

OHLMEYER: Don Ohlmeyer, one of the pioneers of “Monday Night Football,” has ended his return to the helm of the ABC lynchpin grid broadcast after just one year.

WB: One of the principal architects of the WB’s resurgent advertising picture has been rewarded with senior VP stripes. Veteran WB ad sales exec Bill Morningstar, who was most recently VP, Eastern sales, has been tapped to head up ad sales at the Frog net as it enters the upfront season.

POOH: Disney has agreed to pay an estimated $340 million to buy out the rights to A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” books for another 25 years. We’ll look at why deal makes sense for Disney: “The Tigger Movie” did $70 million, and while some of the Mouse’s traditional characters may be losing marketing steam, there seems to be life left in the cuddly honey-guzzler.

KING: King World Prods. has named Steven Nalevansky senior VP of programming and development, following the departure of Andy Friendly as prexy of programming and production for the company. Move was expected (Daily Variety, Feb. 28).

RATES: ABC’s Oprah Winfrey pic “Amy & Isabelle” does very well, while Fox’s “The Lone Gunmen” had a pretty strong debut. NBC’s oft-delayed Kennedy women mini doesn’t do much. Numbers for two-hour premiere of HBO’s “Sopranos” won’t be in until Tuesday. Will also project the week’s winners.

EARLY: Boosted by an appearance by “Survivor” chief Mark Burnett and the contestant who was burned on the reality show, CBS News’ “Early Show” posted its highest-ever overnight rating for a Friday and its highest rating for a CBS morning broadcast on a Friday in six years. Still, they’re far behind the competish.

FRINGE Despite not starting until nearly Sunday morning on one occasion, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has delivered its best February sweep ratings in three years.

WGA: Writers Guild of America West prexy John Wells is shunning fiery rhetoric about the studio’s last offer to the Guild and instead is assuring members there is still plenty of time to avert a strike.

SAG: Tess Harper, a high-profile member of SAG’s negotiating team, has implored all SAG members to refuse work on non-union contracts. Kevin Spacey made a similar appeal two months ago.

A&E: Sidney Lumet is developing a second original scripted series for A&E called “May It Please the Court,” which would dramatize some of the most famous Supreme Court decisions. A&E also announced it has renewed Lumet’s other series, “100 Centre Street,” for 18 new episodes.

NAPSTER: Song-swap service Napster Inc. on Monday said it had started blocking users from 2 million music files late Sunday, but industry sources said that amounted to barring only several hundred copyrighted songs on the online directory in which billions of such files are traded monthly.

MAVERICK: Warner Music/Madonna joint venture Maverick Records inks marketing pact with MP3.com, under which Maverick will license its songs for the My.MP3 digital locker and use the service to promote its wares.

MCA: MCA Records taps Albert Lomeli as chief financial officer, replacing Paul Satenstein, who was promoted to exec VP in February.

KENNYG: Jazz-Muzak superstar Kenny G reups with BMG Entertainment’s Arista Records in a multiyear pact.

UGO: UnderGroundOnline Networks closes new round of financing for $13 million after pinkslipping 40 of its 130 staffers on Friday.

ASPEN: Despite an extensive pic sked, a burgeoning foreign film lineup and (gasp!) a film acquisition by Miramax, the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival has no delusions about being the next Sundance. It remains a standup mecca where schmooze is the word.

IDA: The Intl. Documentary Assn. will host its 19th annual Academy Awards Nominees Program and Reception honoring the nominees for documentary feature and short films at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater March 22.

SPITZ: Artisan Releasing, the theatrical distribution arm of Artisan Entertainment, has promoted David Spitz to senior VP and general sales manager.

FILMCOMM: Gov. Gray Davis has tapped Jerome F. Katzman, Robert A. Morales and Marcus L. Morton as members of the California Film Commission.

INSIDE MOVES

DUEL: MPAA and RIAA, along with NCAA and several other high-profile orgs, will hold a press conference on copyright at New York’s Mayflower Hotel – where the Consumer Electronics Assn. is planning a daylong confab Tuesday on why the little guy might get hurt if copyright is extended to the digital age. It’s no coincidence – MPAA and RIAA knew just what they were doing when selecting the time and place: Earlier in the day, Napster’s Manus Cooney will speak for CEA.

WGA: So who did win the radio promo writing award?

BUSINESS

PEARSON: Media group Pearson has posted a 17% drop in pre-tax profits, the result of heavy investment in new media.

VIACOM: CFO Fred Reynolds will be leaving once he helps name a successor, he’s moving to the West Coast for family reasons.

GRANITE: Granite Broadcasting gets new cash infusion; stock up 30%.

PERFECTV: Leading Japanese direct to home satcaster Sky PerfecTV posts its lowest-ever monthly subscriber increase in February; the news hits the company’s shares Monday in Tokyo trading.

VILLAGE: Village Roadshow raised $A354 million ($187.6 million) from Monday’s stock exchange listing of Austereo, Australia’s leading radio network.

WORLD

FOBO: Oscar noms pay off for “Traffic” and “Crouching Tiger.”

SBS: European channel launcher SBS Broadcasting has inked a deal with News Corp. owned Fox World to create and operate a Northern European production company.

KIRCH: Following the intervention of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder last week, German media group Kirch and pubcasters ARD and ZDF look set to restart negotiations this week over the broadcast rights to World Cup soccer.

GEMINI: StudioCanal and Paulo Branco’s Gemini Films are poised to sign a French TV distribution deal for around 40 titles in Gemini’s catalogue.

TECH: Canal Plus Technologies and Sun Microsystems have sealed a strategic alliance to develop interactive technology for TV systems globally.

MASSON: Yves Jeanneau has been appointed managing director of Sunny Side of the Doc following the drowning of the South of France mart’s co-founder, Olivier Masson.

WIRES

SBSW: SBS Broadcasting and Fox World agreed to form and operate a new northern European production company.

PROSIEBENW: Newly merged German television group ProSieben Sat 1 Media AG on Monday dismissed concerns about its advertising outlook and said it was on track to reach above-market ad growth of close to 10 percent in 2001.

BABEW: Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS) Disney Publishing Worldwide signed a multiyear exclusive licensing agreement with Baby Einstein Co. to produce a series of books based on Baby Einstein’s interactive videos for babies.

GRANIT: Granite Broadcasting amended its California affiliation purchase agreement with General Electric Co.’s (GE) NBC unit and received a $205 million credit commitment to fund its needs through 2003.

REVIEWS

MUSIC: Roni Size Reprazent, HoB; Tenacious D, Palace; String Chese Incident, Wiltern; Dianne Reeves, Royce ; Kasey Chambers/Robert Earl Keen

TV: Fighting Fitzgerlads

LEGIT: Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Criminal Acts ; Suburb (Off B’way)

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