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TV Notes: Snowboarder hurt in Letterman stunt

Saturday, February 07, 2004

A champion snowboarder got stitches and a visit from David Letterman after she fell 25 feet off a ramp while performing a stunt for the comedian's late-night TV show.

Tara Dakides, nicknamed the Terrorizer, was expected to leave the hospital yesterday, a day after falling from a ramp, manager Steve Astephen said.

"The only thing I am upset about is that the French judge only gave me a 5.6," Dakides quipped from her hospital bed.

Witnesses said Dakides, 28, made two successful jumps on the U-shaped ramp, set up outside the Ed Sullivan Theater, and then fell off the ramp on her third attempt.

Dakides, a snowboard competitor since 1993, was in New York to showcase her talents on the Letterman show and discuss the silver medal she just earned at the 2004 X Games.

Because of the accident, the "Late Show" stopped taping Thursday night's show and aired a repeat.

(Lukas I. Alpert, Associated Press)

Wells objects to 'ER' edit

NBC's decision to remove a glimpse of an elderly patient's breast in Thursday's "ER" was criticized by John Wells, the executive producer of the popular and long-running medical drama, who said such "affiliate overreactions" have a "chilling effect" on dramatic integrity.

In a statement, Wells called the Janet Jackson incident at last Sunday's Super Bowl "inappropriate and deplorable on a broadcast intended for viewers of all ages."

But "the incidental exposure of an elderly woman's breast in the context of a medical trauma is not comparable," he said.

Viewers advised of a show's adult content are capable of "making the distinction and adjusting their viewing habits accordingly," he said.

"This type of network behavior is one of the primary reasons that so many of today's producers and viewers are increasingly turning to HBO and other cable outlets that do not censor responsible storytelling," Wells said.

In its statement, NBC agreed that the scene, in which an 80-year-old woman receives emergency treatment, is "appropriate and in context" and noted it would have aired late in the evening, after 10:30 p.m.

But the network said it couldn't ignore the furor that followed a musical number in which Justin Timberlake pulled off part of Jackson's costume, exposing her breast to 89 million viewers.

After consulting with its affiliate board, the network asked the producers of "ER" to remove the nudity.

(Lynn Elber, Associated Press)

Next up: 'Ponchogate'

The Veterans of Foreign Wars have had it up to here with all of the fuss about the exposure of Janet Jackson's bejeweled breast during the Super Bowl halftime show. Nudity is one thing, but messing with the American flag is a whole other kettle of fish. Hence, the VFW is taking aim at Kid Rock.

While a statement from the 104-year-old organization only describes Jackson's pastie flaunting as "nearly lewd," the VFW takes umbrage at Rock's even less revealing attire. The singer took the stage at the halftime show clad in a poncho fashioned either out of an American flag or to look like an American flag.

The distinction is irrelevant to the VFW, which calls Robert James Ritchie (Mr. Rock to the overly obsequious) out for his "blatant and disgusting desecration of the U.S. flag."

"While MTV and CBS have issued apologies for the Janet Jackson incident, they have yet to address Kid Rock's disgusting use of an American flag as a costume prop," says VFW Commander-in-Chief Edward S. Banas. "The 1.6 million members of the VFW agree that Kid Rock's stunt was in poor taste and extremely disrespectful to the members of our armed forces who every day pledge their allegiance -- and their life -- to our flag. I find it unconscionable that the entire news media, along with CBS, the NFL and MTV, have yet to address this."


TiVo, Nielsen join forces

Nielsen Media Research, the company that measures television viewership, signed an agreement with TiVo to provide information on digital video recorder usage.

Television networks, concerned about declining ratings, have complained that Nielsen's measurements don't reflect the growing use of DVRs.

After many years of slow acceptance by consumers, DVR sales picked up last year and are expected to increase even more as cable companies build the product into their receivers. Forrester Research estimates there are 3 million DVRs in use, up from 1.7 million in 2002.

Nielsen said the agreement is separate from Nielsen's national and local TV audience measurement panels. It was unclear how, or if, TiVo viewership will be included in these measurements.

The companies said they will measure usage by forming a panel of TiVo subscribers.

(Associated Press)

'Greenlight' lit

The folks at "Project Greenlight" are ready to begin anew the process that thus far has led to great television and not-so-great movies.

The series, which is moving to Bravo from HBO for its third season, will begin accepting entries from screenwriters and directors on Monday. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28.

Miramax and LivePlanet, the companies that run "Project Greenlight," are taking a slightly different course for the third contest. The script contest is asking for horror or thriller screenplays, after coming-of-age stories won the last two contests.

Directors are asked to submit an original short or scene no longer than three minutes. It can cover any subject matter, as long as it's not "pornographic or illegal" (complete rules and submission guidelines are at

LivePlanet principals Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore, along with a group of Miramax executives, will then choose a writer and director by midyear, with production on the winning film starting in late summer or fall. The third season of "Project Greenlight" is slated to hit Bravo early next year.


WQED special

Two WQED producers are behind "The Case of Missing Human Potential," a one-hour program about women in science and technology that airs at 7 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 13.

Gina Catanzarite ("On Q") and Lynne Squilla ("The War That Made America") produced the special, which was shot in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Columbus and is offered to PBS stations through WVIZ in Cleveland.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor)

Radio comedy

WURP-AM (1550) has added another comedy program to its weekend lineup. "Saturday Morning Live" features comedians and writers John Knight, Chuck Krieger and Vic Wallace with a mix of local and topical sketches. It airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays.

The station broadcasts "The Lackzoom Acidophilus Comedy Hour" Sundays at noon, starting tomorrow.

(Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette)

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