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TV Note: 'Crossing Over' cancels terrorist attack portions

Saturday, October 27, 2001

John Edward, the medium who hosts the chat-with-the-dead show "Crossing Over," (5 p.m. weekdays, WPGH) has taped segments in which he purports to contact victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

But America may never get to hear what they have to say because production house Studios USA axed the whole idea after reporters and station executives -- the two least queasy segments of society -- actually cringed.

Studios USA Domestic Television President Steve Rosenberg says they scrapped the idea after getting a whiff of the negative reaction.

"This is too good a show to do what might offend the audience," he said. "If in any way it gave offense to the audience, it's just a mistake."

(Lisa de Moraes, The Washington Post)

ABC boosts military

ABC has signed a $25 million deal to promote the U.S. Military Academy at West Point through television specials and commercials.

Announced Tuesday, it shows how the lines between advertising and entertainment on television are blurring as clients seek something different from commercials.

ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., promised to run a prime-time special next June, "Young America Celebrates West Point." The deal also includes other properties wholly or partly owned by Disney -- ESPN, The History Channel, Lifetime, A&E, ABC Radio and even ESPN magazine.

The deal between ABC and the West Point Project LLC, a group of West Point alumni, was in the works before the Sept. 11 attacks. But Joseph Franklin, a retired general who's the chief adviser for the West Point Project, said it was a "wonderful coincidence" that ABC was featuring the military now.

Besides the special, a vignette series called "West Point Minute" will air on ABC News programs "Good Morning America" and "Nightline." They will be clearly marked advertising, the network said.

Noted sports filmmaker Bud Greenspan is making a two-hour documentary on West Point's sports history to air on ESPN. ESPN Classic will air an Army football special, "Field of Honor," and rebroadcast old Army football games.

The History Channel will air a two-hour documentary on people who have attended West Point called, "The Long Grey Line," a four-hour film on West Point's hist-ory and a one-hour special, "West Point & The Movies."

An ad and programming campaign will also air on Lifetime, with the goal of promoting the military as an option for young women.

(David Bauder, Associated Press)

Simpson suspended

ABC News has suspended news correspondent Carole Simpson for two weeks with pay after she spread false information about an anthrax investigation while speaking at a luncheon.

Appearing before the International Women's Media Foundation in New York on Oct. 16, Simpson said colleague Cokie Roberts had received a suspicious letter from Trenton, N.J., USA Today reported.

Trenton was the origin of suspicious letters sent to news organizations and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. In fact, although ABC was investigating a suspicious letter in its Washington bureau, it did not originate from Trenton. The letter proved to be harmless.

ABC executives were also upset that Simpson, speaking before a roomful of reporters, revealed details about the infant who contracted anthrax after a visit to ABC, including that the baby's mother worked for her.

In a statement issued Thursday, Simpsonsaid she regretted the mistake.

She is the anchor of "World News Tonight" on Sundays and files reports for various ABC News broadcasts.

(Associated Press)

'Smallville' redux

For viewers who set their VCRs and were upset to miss the end of the premiere of "Smallville," which ran more than an hour, The WB wants to make it up to you. The network failed to tell viewers or critics, who could mention it in reviews, about the extended length of the premiere episode.

Now they've given affiliates permission to broadcast the 68-minute series premiere and the show's second episode in a two-hour block. In Pittsburgh, the "Smallville" mini-marathon will air on WCWB tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

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