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TV Notes: 2/15/03

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Rather doubts military will help TV cover war

CBS News anchor Dan Rather says he hopes that embedding journalists among U.S. troops if there's a war with Iraq will help coverage, but he has doubts.

Rather is cautious because of experiences during the Gulf War, when much of the material gathered by journalists traveling with the military was not allowed to be printed or aired until long after the war was over.

"There's a pretty fine line between being embedded and being entombed," Rather said. "I have trepidations. I hope it works. I think it can work. We'll see."

At least eight CBS News teams, one including White House reporter John Roberts, are being trained to go along with the military.

Roberts said he believes there's a greater understanding in the military of the need to have journalists doing their job in wartime.

Rather recalled how vital it was to CNN to have pictures from Baghdad the night bombs began dropping during the Gulf War. It established the network's reputation, even if, in Rather's view, other news organizations did better during the rest of the war.

"We want to be fast off the mark because in journalism, as in the military, the first strike is half the battle," he said.

Other networks are making similar plans for battle if war happens, setting up bureaus to coordinate coverage and dispatching correspondents to several countries in the region.

(David Bauder, Associated Press)

No 'Sex' for nets

Three of the four biggest broadcast networks said they have no interest in airing a sanitized version of HBO's Emmy Award-winning comedy "Sex and the City."

The fourth network, CBS, would not comment on the possibility.

Published reports, first in Variety, said HBO had approached executives at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox about airing an edited "Sex and the City" as a prime-time series, starting this fall.

Although it's rare for a cable series to find a home on broadcast networks, ABC had some success last year by picking up reruns of the USA Network series "Monk."

"Sex and the City" would present special problems for the broadcast networks, given its often-explicit story lines about four single women in New York City.

But because each episode would have to be cut from the 30-minute version that runs on commercial-free HBO to about 22 minutes to accommodate ads, racier scenes could be cut. Series producers, anticipating the show's potential sale to the more restrictive networks at some point, also have recorded alternate versions of explicit scenes.

There was some concern among broadcasters about HBO's asking price, said by Variety to be around $3 million per episode.

HBO has said it will run 12 additional original episodes of the series this summer, then eight more starting in January 2004. After that, the series will conclude.

(D.B.)

More Michael

America's inexplicable renewed interest in Michael Jackson continues.

ABC's "Living With Michael Jackson" will air again on VH1 at 9 p.m. tonight and again at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Monday at 10 p.m.

ABC will repeat the show Monday at 9 following a "PrimeTime" about Jackson. NBC airs its two-hour "Michael Jackson Unmasked" Monday at 9 p.m.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

'Hot' is not

ABC's parade-of-flesh reality show "Are You Hot?" got off to a lousy start in the ratings Thursday, ranking third with stiff competition from CBS ("Survivor," "CSI") and NBC ("Friends").

Melinda Griffith, described as a 25-year-old office manager from Pittsburgh, didn't make the cut. Judge Randolph Duke, a fashion designer, thanked her for skipping "the 'Baywatch' audition and heading this way," and then proceeded to critique her appearance.

"You're going to need to firm that body up a little bit," he said. "I saw too much jiggle."

You might remember Griffith from her role modeling in WTAE's recent sweeps report on "X-ray" lenses on video cameras.

(R.O.)

Global town hall

NPR Service and BBC World Service are teaming up for a global town hall and call-in show called "Iraq: The World Speaks." It's the first joint production for the two radio networks.

Listeners and callers around the world will be able to take part in a dialogue about the impending war, diplomatic strategies and how war will affect the region and the world.

Local NPR affiliate WDUQ-FM (90.5) isn't carrying the program. But listeners with computer access can tune in a live audio stream via NPR's Web site (http://www.npr.org/news/specials/nprbbciraq/index.html) and audio and video on the BBC Online (http://bbcnews.com/talkingpoint). The program will be carried live on NPR Worldwide and BBC World Service. Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers can hear it on Sirius' NPR Now Channel. Listeners can also e-mail questions to: iraq@npr.org or talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk.

"Iraq: The World Speaks" airs today from 1 to 3 p.m.

(Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer)

All wet

WDUQ-FM will air a series of reports dealing with the region's watershed issues.

The six-week series "Water, Water Everywhere" begins Monday and runs weekly through March 24. The reports will air twice during "Morning Edition" at 6:40 and 8:50 a.m.

The series is the second installment in a two-year project: The first reports aired last February and March.

Reports will also be archived on the station Web site (http://www.wduq.org).

(A.M.)

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