- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Don Imus has reached a settlement with CBS over his multimillion-dollar contract and is negotiating to resume his broadcasting career.

Mr. Imus and CBS Radio “have mutually agreed to settle claims that each had against the other regarding the Imus radio program on CBS,” the network and Imus‘ attorney, Martin Garbus, said in a joint statement yesterday.

The terms of the settlement will not be disclosed, according to the statement. CBS and Mr. Garbus confirmed only that the settlement had been reached.

The settlement pre-empts the dismissed radio personality’s threatened $120 million breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Meantime, Mr. Imus is talking to WABC-AM and other stations about making a possible comeback, a person familiar with the talks told the Associated Press. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details had not been announced, also said the deal with CBS calls for a “nondisparaging” agreement that forbids the parties from speaking negatively about each other.

The settlement and possible comeback occur more than four months after Mr. Imus created an uproar over what many considered racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Just before his dismissal, Mr. Imus signed a five-year, $40 million contract to continue his nationally syndicated radio program, based at New York’s WFAN-AM, which is owned by CBS Radio.

Mr. Garbus, a well-known First Amendment lawyer, said in May that Mr. Imus planned to sue CBS for $120 million in unpaid salary and damages.

Mr. Imus, 67, was dismissed April 12 after describing the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” on his show, also simulcast on MSNBC. (General Electric Co.’s cable TV channel now has the “Morning Joe” program with Joe Scarborough.)

Mr. Garbus had cited a contract clause in which CBS acknowledged that Mr. Imus‘ services were “unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial.” The clause said Mr. Imus‘ programming was “desired by company and … consistent with company rules and policy,” according to Mr. Garbus.

Steve Borneman, general manager of WABC, did not return repeated calls requesting comment on whether Mr. Imus might join the New York talk-radio station that features political and topical shows with such stars as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

WABC-AM is owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corp., which has more than 140 radio stations as well as ABC Radio Networks.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led the movement to get Mr. Imus fired, issued a statement saying the development is “a legal matter between a former employer and employee.”

But he added that it is “also a testimony to the movement of people that raised their voices to fire Imus that CBS would rather pay him off than keep him on. This shows the strength of our movement and we congratulate the leadership of CBS for not putting a few dollars above the integrity of the airwaves. To the rumors that Imus may resurface, wherever he resurfaces we at National Action Network and other groups will be watching and monitoring him.”

Rutgers spokeswoman Stacey Brann said that basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer was on vacation and unavailable to comment.

WFAN also announced yesterday that former pro quarterback Boomer Esiason is taking over the morning time slot along with Craig Carton.

As co-host of “The Jersey Guys,” a talk show on New Jersey radio station WKXW-FM, Mr. Carton at times offended minorities and women.

In January 2005, then Gov. Richard Codey nearly came to blows with Mr. Carton over his and his co-host’s disparaging comments about Mrs. Codey’s widely publicized battle with postpartum depression.

Mr. Codey told the AP yesterday that he has put the episode behind him and has since been a call-in guest to the show to discuss sports.

Also in 2005, Mr. Carton and co-host Ray Rossi apologized over disparaging remarks about Asian-Americans.

New Jersey Assembly member Wilfredo Caraballo said that Mr. Carton is “a guy who’s managed to insult almost every community around.”

“You would have thought that after the Rutgers incident that a lesson would have been learned. But I guess they figured that this guy would get some ratings for them,” he said.

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