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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press.

September 19, 2000|SHAUNA SNOW

TELEVISION

'Confessions' Halted: Some reality may be proving too real: Court TV has pulled its controversial series "Confessions" after just two episodes. The stark half-hour program was made up of actual videotaped criminal confessions. A wide range of critics jumped on the show, saying it glorified criminals and offended the victims' families. Court TV Chairman Henry Schleiff said in a statement Monday that many of the concerns over the program were valid and that the network never wanted to "knowingly offend." Moreover, he said, the controversy was overshadowing the rest of the network's programming.

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NBC Drops Spielberg Series: NBC has passed on the Steven Spielberg-produced military drama "Semper Fi." The series, which had a 13-episode commitment from the network, was originally expected to debut this fall but had already been pushed back to midseason. DreamWorks TV is now shopping the drama to other networks, although NBC said it would air the two-hour pilot as a movie if the series does not get picked up elsewhere. Meanwhile, NBC will extend its 13-episode commitment to a future DreamWorks series. Sources said that NBC and DreamWorks were unable to agree on a "show runner" to head "Semper Fi's" production.

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CNN Reorganization: CNN has named veteran employee Sid Bedingfield as executive vice president and general manager of CNN/U.S., where he'll be responsible for the network's day-to-day news operation, including programming and production. Those duties had previously been overseen by Rick Kaplan, who left the news network in a recent shake-up amid declining ratings. Bedingfield, who had been Kaplan's deputy, was among a number of current CNN executives promoted, part of the network's attempt to put in place what CNN News Group President Philip Kent called a "much more collaborative management arrangement," allowing stories to be developed simultaneously for all CNN outlets, from the cable network to the Internet.

Emmy Voting Change: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said Monday that it would permanently adopt the at-home voting procedure that was tried out for this year's Emmys, which resulted in several new faces among the winners. "Our primary goal was to expand the voting pool . . . and allow for greater participation by a larger cross-section of our members," said academy Chairman Meryl Marshall Daniels. "Our initial experiment with this revised approach worked better than anyone expected." Voting was previously done by panels that were sequestered for a weekend at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

MOVIES

Bio Film Planned: Universal Pictures is making a movie biography about the life of the late comic Sam Kinison, to be produced by David Permut ("Face/Off"), with Tom Shadyac ("Ace Ventura") directing. The film will be based on the book "Brother Sam," which was co-written by Kinison's brother Bill, who will also executive produce the movie. It chronicles Kinison's rise from a Pentecostal preacher to a stand-up comic and movie star. Though the project is said to be on a fast track into production, there is not yet a screenwriter or cast in place.

POP/ROCK

Bridge Benefit Lineup: Neil Young's 14th annual Bridge School benefit concert Oct. 28-29 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View will include Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, the Foo Fighters and the Canadian duo of Tegan and Sara. Tickets go on sale Sunday via Ticketmaster phone lines or on the Internet at http://www.ticketmaster.com.

QUICK TAKES

MTV has canceled its late-night sex-and-relationships talk show, "Loveline," after four seasons. A final air date has not yet been set for the program, which is currently in repeats. However, the show will continue in its nationally syndicated radio format on Los Angeles' KROQ-FM (106.7). . . . Best drama series Emmy-winner "The West Wing" will kick off its second season with a two-hour installment on Oct. 4. . . . The Dixie Chicks will have a one-hour concert special on NBC in November. . . . Chart-topping hip-hop singer Nelly will make his film debut in "Snipes," the first movie from RuffNation Films, which is led by RuffHouse Records founder Chris Schwartz. . . . The summer movie hit "The Perfect Storm" is due on home video/DVD Nov. 14. . . . Making an existing unofficial arrangement official, ABC News has named Jack Ford as substitute "Good Morning America" anchor when Charlie Gibson is off, which will be one day a week. Elizabeth Vargas and Nancy Snyderman, meanwhile, are now the official substitutes for Diane Sawyer. . . . Harrison Ford is the latest actor to donate $100,000 to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation's Strike Relief Fund in support of the commercial actors' strike.

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