News Briefing For Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cable 360 newsroom will be vacated shortly after lunch today as staffers rush to the 1pm showing of Sex and the City. Good gravy and happy Friday.

Say it ain’t so. On Monday TBS begins inserting a 2-minute show during breaks in Sex and The City. The miniseries is really a commercial for Revlon and and is designed to do battle with viewers who skip ads, The Wall St Journal reports. [WSJ]

Is Comedy Central really webcasting The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or not? That’s a tough question, and cable operators are not amused with the answer, Saul Hansell reports in The NY Times. For cable ops, what’s to like? Cable companies pay for programming, and then that very same content appears on the Web so people without cable subscriptions can access it. Big trouble looms. Contract negotiations are going to get uglier.[NYT]

Kevin Martin is at it again, The Wall St Journal reports. This time the Martinet is touting the goodness of subsidized broadband networks. In fact, the FCC may require the winning bidder in a spectrum auction to provide free Internet service “across a large swath of the country,” the New York Times reports. [New York Times] [WSJ]

The writers strike certainly helped cable’s ratings earlier this year, but the aftershock is about to be felt. Several summer cable series are experiencing considerable delays, USA Today reports. Among those hit are HBO’s Entourage and Big Love and FX’s The Shield and Rescue Me. [UST]

The Sacramento Bee’s Rick Kushman likes Mary McCormack as a federal marshal assigned to the witness protection program in USA’s long-delayed In Plain Sight (debuts Sun, 10pm). McCormack, who played Howard Stern’s wife in Private Parts, is “a kick-butt law officer and a joy to watch when she’s messing with the bad guys.” Alessandra Stanley in The NY Times says Sunday’s overstuffed pilot is one of the worst in TV history, but future episodes are much better. [SB] [NYT]

The movie opening today, you know, the one that began life as a hit cable series on HBO. Well, it gets a serious black eye in The NY Times, which says the “overly long” film is “the pits, a vulgar, shrill, deeply shallow…addendum…” to an entertaining TV series.  [NYT]

Mediapost’s Diane Mermigas writes that “it seems likely that Wall Street’s worst fears for television advertising may materialize.” The suffering of cable networks will be mitigated somewhat by affiliate fees collected from content distributors. [Mediapost]

FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s long-cherished dream of enforced a la carte cable programming was derided by more than a dozen civil rights groups yesterday, Ars Technica reports. The groups’ FCC filing warned of an end to programming diversity if channel packages were abolished. [Ars Technica]

The Wednesday night hacking of the portal highlights the need for passwords to be changed on a regular basis. [Cable Digital News]

Dish Network launched local hi-def channels in Buffalo, N.Y. [TVPredictions]

Briefly Noted
Comedic genius Harvey Korman, a staple of The Carol Burnett Show and scores of films shown on cable, died Thursday, aged 81. [NYT]

Joseph Pevney, who directed The Trouble with Tribbles ep of Star Trek among many other things, died, aged 96. [NYT]

Turner Classic Movies will celebrate the career of the late director Sydney Pollack on Monday night. Be sure to catch Pollack’s still-relevant political thriller, Three Days of the Condor, at 10. [The Providence Journal]
Time’s running out to nominate companies for CableFAX: The Magazine‘s Top 10 Places to Work in Cable. Complete our online nomination form by June 9 and let us know why your employer is tops. And don’t forget to nominate the best  minority and female execs for our Most Influential Minorities and Top Women in Cable issues.

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