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.
WGA: With Hollywood on the edge of its seat, Writers Guild contract talks enter the final hours prior to contract expiration with a final offer expected on the table by tonight. Rank-and-file writers say that while they don’t want to strike, they remain supportive of WGA leadership.
MOODY’S: A Hollywood writers and actors strike would have to extend into 2002 before beginning to damage media-company credit ratings, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s, however, sees such an extended work stoppage as unlikely given the relatively narrow scope of the issues that separate the parties.
EMI: Despite last-minute efforts to secure a deal, the proposed $14 billion merger of EMI and BMG has fallen through. The link-up of the British music major and BMG, the music division of German media group Bertelsmann, is understood to have to foundered on regulatory issues.
SHOWTIME: Showtime’s multiplex channel aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds, Showtime Next, has bought the Kevin Williamson-created TV series “Wasteland,” from Miramax TV, which ABC pulled off the air in fall 1999 after only three of the 13 completed hourlong episodes had aired. Showtime Next will run all 13 as a weekly series, including the 10 hours never before seen.
THURSTON: Syndie legend Barry Thurston, who ankled Columbia TriStar TV Distrib’s prexy post nearly a year ago, has resurfaced. He’s partnered with four other TV execs to create Associated Media Partners, a firm that will service and consult TV station owners.
HARPERCOLLINS: HarperCollins Publishers said Tuesday its William Morrow imprint has acquired North American rights to three new books by Elmore Leonard and the author’s most recent bestseller, Pagan Babies.
MTV: MTV has made series orders for four new reality series, including “Flipped” from producer Arnold Shapiro. Also going to series are “Who Knows the Band?,” “Kidnapped” and “Becoming.” The “Becoming” order was previously reported in Daily Variety. The cable net is also announcing a batch of greenlit pilots, as well as other shows in development.
RATES: Powerhouse Thursday lineups lifted NBC and CBS to ratings victories last week, with the Peacock delivering its best demo scores since February and the Eye once again attracting the most viewers overall.
MONDAY: NBC’s “Weakest Link” slips noticeably in its third Monday outing opposite tough sweeps competish. Fox does well with its dramas, winning the night in demos.
BROKAW: “NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw” reaches a milestone — the newscast has won 52 consecutive weeks in total viewers for the first time since the start of People Meters in 1987.
NEWS NETS: April marks the seventh month that Fox News Channel has beaten CNN in primetime. The cable news net is up 74% in households compared to last April, while CNN was up only 2%. MSNBC is up 21% over last April, but is still a distant third.
CABLE RATES: A look at the April ratings for basic-cable networks.
CORLEY: Oral arguments begin in the appeal of an injunction granted against Eric Corley, whose Web site, 2600.com distributed a program that can decrypt encoded DVDs. The appeal, argued on Corley’s behalf by Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan, focused in part on the constitutionality of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bars dissemination of technology that can hack through digital encryption on copyrighted material.
CABLE: National Cable Assn. says number of exhibs at upcoming June confab in Chicago is 15% down over last year, due to the economy. Major techies such as Cisco and Lucent have canceled altogether. Meanwhile, Charter Communications topper Jerry Kent — in charge of this year’s NCTA meeting — says the government may have to rescue cable operators and order ESPN and other sports channels to offer services as a separate package.
SAG: An attorney for SAG members facing discipline for alleged confidentiality violations has urged SAG’s board to drop the charges, saying that the board risks violating free-speech guarantees if it proceeds.
APRIL B.O.: “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Spy Kids” gave Miramax the No. 1 spot at the April B.O. Month’s receipts at $463 million are even compared to the same frame last year.
ISAAK: Showtime has renewed its weekly comedy-drama “The Chris Isaak Show” for 17 more episodes, delivering another hourlong piece of the network’s 10 p.m. checkerboard of year-round original series.
CRONIN: Rich Cronin, former prexy of Fox Family Channel, is being named prexy of Sony’s and Liberty’s Game Show Network.
DESK: Nominees for Drama Desk announced.
VALENTI: Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy-CEO Jack Valenti will discuss copyright, ratings and the Hollywood strike threat on Wednesdayas Variety.com hosts its first Big Talk live discussion.
EL CAP: Video Business’ first ever Video Premiere Awards event to be held at El Capitan theater, which celebrates its 75th anniversary Thursday and 10th anniversary of Disney’s renovation. With renting of theater for awards show, Disney becomes first official sponsor of the awards program.
WHOOPI: The Kennedy Center has tapped Whoopi Goldberg to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, its annual award to celebrate a top American comic. It will be presented Oct. 15 at the center’s Concert Hall.
DIRECTV: DirecTV chief financial officer Bob Meyers Tuesday reiterated some bullish financial projections and said the satcaster aims to boost subscribers to 15 million in five years from just under 10 million currently. The company’s parent Hughes Electronics and its parent General Motors are in the process of jump-starting faltering merger talks with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. after the entertainment conglom came up with a sweetened offer.
PRODUCE: Pre-strike stockpiling of TV and films in Los Angeles continued at a powerful pace in April, according to figures showing a 31.8% jump in production activity on public property.
CANAL: Canal Plus Technologies’ interactive television middleware is to be used in the U.S. by WINfirst, the Denver-based cable and fiber-optic provider, the French company announced Tuesday. The Vivendi Universal subsid also plans to develop new interactive content and services for WINfirst, which has received approval to build networks to more than 3.7 million homes in various U.S. cities.
C4: Channel 4 has posted sales of £716 million ($1.03 billion) for 2000, up 12% and the cult terrestrial’s highest tally ever. Profits were down 34% to $31 million due to investment in new businesses.
GLOBO: Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo is in advanced talks on novela co-production and programming-sale accords with Spain’s Telefonica Media, and is talking with two other European companies.
LOFT: Passions are running high in France over “Loft Story,” a homegrown reality show that is proving the French have just as keen an appetite for trash TV as other nations.
ENDEMOL: John van der Putten has been tapped to be Endemol Entertainment’s director of Endemol Interactive Intl., effective immediately.
DISNEY: Disney Channel Latin America will bow its “Zapping Zone” show May 13 on Argentine broadcaster Azul Television, the Mouse House’s first such original production on Argentinean television.
HTV: Producer/distrib Venevision Intl. and Latin music feevee HTV have inked a deal to co-produce a Spanish-lingo music magazine for open-air broadcasters.
COUNTRY AWARDS: WVIK in Knoxville, Tenn., won the Academy of Country Music Award as top radio station, and the disc jockey of the year honor went to Nashville’s WKDF personality Carl P. Mayfield & P Team.
TV DIVERSITY: The early evening ”family hour” features the least racially diverse programming on U.S. network television, with shows dominated by white males and minority characters frequently depicted as police officers, domestic workers or unskilled laborers, according to a study released Tuesday.
LOONEY TUNES: Warner Bros. Online launched http://www.looneytunes.com, the definitive Internet destination for all things Looney Tunes, including new original animated programming.
KOBALT: Kobalt Interactive announced the appointments of Guy Pepper as chief executive officer and George Krieger as president.
LEGIT: King Hedley (B’way)