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August 4, 2005

Emily Barsh has risen to senior vice president of news and talent development at Court TV. She will be responsible for new format development and on-air talent cultivation. She will also supervise the production of “Catherine Crier Live,” “Hollywood Heat” and other live news talk shows.

Also at Court TV, Joseph Alesi has joined the marketing department as vice president of off-air creative and Courtney Brown as director of ad sales and marketing.

Dob Bennett is stepping down from his longtime post as president of Liberty Media by April 2006. But he will pass on the chief executive officer title immediately to John Malone, chairman of the Liberty and Discovery Holding Co. Malone recently spun off Liberty's international operations and turned its 50 percent stake in Discovery Networks into a separate publicly traded company.

Simon Sutton is the new president of HBO International, responsible for overseeing HBO’s worldwide TV ventures. Sutton was previously executive vice president of international TV at MGM. He first joined MGM in 1996 as director of business development for the international TV group. Sutton was let go after Sony took over MGM earlier this year.

A.J. Calloway, AKA A.J., and Marie Wright, AKA Free, are both out after five years hosting the popular BET show “106 & Park.” The duo aired their last show last week. A.J. claims that he was essentially pushed out when BET executive vice president for music and entertainment programming Stephen Hill told him that they were looking to change the face of the network. Hill denies the claim. 

An investigation into FSN host Carolyn Hughes’ relationship with L.A. Dodger Derek Lowe has put her off the air. She co-hosts the Dodgers pre- and post-game shows on FSN West 2. Lowe’s wife, Trinka Lowe, has alleged an improper relationship between the two. FSN West general manager Steve Simpson announced the investigation July 25 and said that Hughes would return as an anchor on “Southern California Sports Report.”

Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera and wife Erica Levy welcomed a new baby girl Tuesday morning, Solita Liliana Rivera. She is Rivera’s fifth child. He and Levy, his fifth wife, married in 2002.

Outdoor Life Network is not gearing up to be ESPN’s rival, says Comcast chief executive office Brian Roberts, dismissing a Wall Street Journal article that said that Comcast wants to use OLN to directly challenge ESPN. Roberts admits that OLN is trying to raise its profile, especially on the heels of another successful Tour de France coverage. Recently, OLN has discussed bidding for rights to the National Hockey League and a small piece of the National Football League package.

Al Aronowitz, who was often called the godfather of rock journalism, died of cancer Monday. He was 77. While covering the rock music scene for The New York Post, Aronowitz befriended many of the top acts from that era, including the Doors’ Jim Morrison and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones. He is best known for bringing together the Beatles and Bob Dylan in 1964.

Despite all the drama, it seems Lachlan Murdoch’s departure from News Corp. will amount to a pretty sizable pay day. A regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the junior Murdoch will be subject to a two-year non-compete clause and receive a separation payment worth several million dollars, possibly as high as his salary for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

News Corp. president Peter Chernin and “ER” producer John Wells will be honored at The Museum of Television & Radio’s annual gala Nov. 7. Chernin is being recognized for his contributions to the television industry. Wells worked on “ER” and “The West Wing.” They join the ranks of past MT&R honorees like Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Steven Bochco, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore and Martin Sheen.

Anne Russell is no longer the editor in chief of Shape magazine, American Media’s Active Lifestyle Group EVP and editorial director Barbara Harris said today. Harris will oversee the search for the magazine’s new editor in chief as well as an executive editor.

Sam Syed has been named design director at Popular Science magazine. He makes the move after six years at Dennis Publishing, where he was Stuff magazine’s creative director and Maxim’s deputy art director. Syed was previously a freelance art director for FW magazine and F-1 Racing magazine. He has also worked with MacUser, PC Pro, Computer Shopper and PC Zone.

Time Inc. veteran Carl N. Mehlhope has been named publisher of Stack, a magazine launched early this year for teen athletes interested in improving their performance safely and effectively. In his 16 years at Time Inc. Mehlhope held several positions including his most recent as group associate publisher and director of sales at Time4 Media.

David Merrefield has been tapped to oversee Home Furnishing News’ editorial team, in addition to his current responsibilities as Supermarket News and SN Whole Health vice president and editorial director. He joined Fairchild Publications in 1979, eventually rising to SN executive editor and later editor-in-chief. Merrefield became editorial director in 2000.

Also at Supermarket News, Christopher Warne has risen from advertising sales manager to associate publisher. He joined the Fairchild Books division in 1994. 

Jason Burns has been named vice president of development for Alta Loma Entertainment, a wholly owned subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises. He will be responsible for developing mainstream feature film and television opportunities.

Emmy-winning comedy writer Gary Belkin died Thursday of emphysema. He was 78. Belkin worked on sitcoms and TV shows including Sid Caesar’s “Caesar's Hour,” “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Sesame Street.” He won an Emmy in 1970 for his work on “Annie, The Women in the Life of a Man,” and in 1974 and 1975 for “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Louis J. Briskman has been named executive vice president and general counsel for CBS, responsible for overseeing all legal activities for CBS, UPN, the Viacom TV Stations Group, Paramount TV, King World, Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom Outdoor, Simon & Schuster, Showtime and Paramount Parks. After the planned Viacom split, Briskman will become chief legal officer of the new CBS Corporation. Briskman was most recently was senior vice president and general counsel at Aetna. 

Jose Luis Padilla has been named general manager of Univision Television Group’s Arizona stations, responsible for KTVW and KFPH in Phoenix; KTVW and KFPH in Flagstaff; KUVE, KUVE and KFTU in Tucson; and KFTU in Douglas. Padilla was most recently the general sales manager of Univision and TeleFutura stations in Arizona.

There will indeed be changes on a NBC’s “Joey,” the first of them a new character. Zack is another aspiring actor around Joey’s age who thinks he’s going to be a big star someday. The role has not yet been cast.

“Rescue Me’s” Diane Farr is joining the cast of CBS’s “Numb3rs,” where she will play a special agent with the FBI. She is signed up for multiple episodes but is expected to join the show full-time. Farr is currently wrapping up production on Dennis Leary’s “Rescue.” She played the show’s first female firefighter. Farr’s other credits include “The Drew Carey Show” and “The Job.”

Can a fictional character have a birthplace? If you’re Star Trek’s Scotty, yes, and not just one but four. Since last month's death of actor James Doohan, who played Montgomery Scott, four towns in Scotland have claimed that they are the birthplace of the USS Enterprise engineer. Aberdeen, Linlithgow, Elgin and Edinburgh all claim to have proof to support their claim and each plans to erect a memorial.







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