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Archive for Wednesday, March 31, 2004

People

March 31, 2004

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Viacom in talks to develop gay TV network

Mexico City -- Viacom is in preliminary discussions to launch a gay cable network in the United States, its chairman and chief executive said Tuesday.

In Mexico City for the launch of VH1 Latin America, Sumner Redstone told reporters he has been talking with U.S. cable operators about the possibility of launching a gay and lesbian channel. He called the would-be network "a good channel for them, and a good channel for Viacom."

"We are prepared to give it a go, and I'm optimistic about it," he said, adding that "there's no reason why we shouldn't aspire to reach such an enormous demographic, not only in the United States, but in the world."

Redstone brushed off concerns a channel geared toward homosexuals could be opposed by some conservative and religious groups in the United States.

"The channel will succeed, I believe," he said. "And we will not be deterred by nay-sayers."

NBC signs Jay Leno for more 'Tonight Show'

New York -- Late-night television's ratings king, Jay Leno, will be delivering rapid-fire jokes on NBC for years to come.

The network replaced his current deal, which expired at the end of next year, with a new contract that locks him in as "Tonight Show" host until the end of 2009.

Leno, who replaced Johnny Carson in 1992, eclipsed CBS rival David Letterman in the ratings during the 1995-96 season and hasn't looked back.

This season, both late-night hosts have increased their audiences, but Leno's margin of victory has gotten wider. Leno is averaging 6.2 million viewers a night, and Letterman 4.4 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The five-year agreement was said to be worth about $100 million.

MU journalism senior wins ESPN's 'Dream Job'

Columbia, Mo.-- Mike Hall landed his "Dream Job."

Hall, majoring in broadcast journalism at Missouri, was the survivor Sunday night on ESPN's reality show to become the cable network's newest sportscaster. Besides winning a new car, Hall correctly answered five sports trivia questions worth $5,000 each, enhancing his one-year ESPN contract, now worth $95,000.

About 12,000 people tried out for the show last fall. Hall auditioned at a sports bar in St. Louis, then survived each round. A dozen contestants made the cast of "Dream Job," with their ranks thinned by celebrity judges and votes from viewers. The final vote was settled by an online poll.

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