- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

More Beck backlash

More advertisers are pulling their spots from Glenn Beck’s Fox News program in the wake of the host’s accusations that President Obama is “a racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people,” Broadcastingcable.com reports.

ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice products), Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, and RadioShack have all signaled their intention to move advertising from Mr. Beck’s 5 p.m. show. The companies join Lawyers.com, Proctor & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, SC Johnson and Geico, B&C notes.

A network spokeswoman explained that the defecting advertisers “have redistributed to other programming on the network, so there has been no revenue lost.”

Color of Change, the black nonprofit political organization, spearheaded an e-mail campaign targeting the show’s advertisers.

“Advertisers realize that it’s probably a bad idea to have their brand associated with the rhetoric of Glenn Beck,” says James Rucker, the group’s executive director.

“People have products to sell. We understand that. But to say the things Beck has said, which are clearly baseless, and to have those things get put out there and validated as part of a news program, that has consequences,” he continued.

State Farm Insurance also is “evaluating” its ad buys, says B&C. Phil Supple, a representative from the insurance giant posted a comment on Media Matters clarifying the company’s position.

“We have a policy of not advertising on political or opinion programming. We have corrected this issue and have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again. Understanding our millions of customers and thousands of associates hold a full spectrum of views on political issues, State Farm has a long-standing practice of not advertising in political discussion programming regardless of a program’s political point of view. Because of the recent situation, State Farm is now evaluating its commercial placement practices to ensure its political issues advertising guidelines are maintained.”

Mr. Beck made the comments July 28 during a discussion about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. on the network’s morning show “Fox & Friends.” His words, although challenged by “Fox & Friends” anchor Brian Kilmeade, spurred an immediate backlash. This prompted Bill Shine, FNC’s senior vice president of programming, to issue a statement distancing the network from Mr. Beck’s comments, saying that Mr. Beck “expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel.”

Miniseries for Kate

Kate Winslet is attached to “Mildred Pierce,” a miniseries adaptation based on the James M. Cain novel that Todd Haynes is writing and directing, Variety reports.

The trade publication, citing unnamed sources, said that HBO is the lead contender to get the project, but other sources say no deal has been struck.

Mr. Cain’s tale was famously turned into a 1945 film that won Joan Crawford an Oscar for the lead role of a bored housewife who gets into the restaurant business, an enterprise that leads to back-stabbing, romance and murder.

The involvement of Miss Winslet, on the heels of her Oscar-winning performance in “The Reader” and her work in “Revolutionary Road,” underscores how much premium cable networks like HBO have become prestige venues for films that might vanish as theatrical releases — a fact underscored by the success of “Grey Gardens,” which garnered Emmy nominations for Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.

Mr. Haynes directed “I’m Not There,” “Safe” and “Far From Heaven.”

Denzel eyeing TV?

Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington might be making a foray into series television, says the Hollywood Reporter.

The versatile actor-director is circling an executive producer role on “Billy Stiles,” a cop drama project from TV writer Virgil Williams. Fox is in talks to pick up the project, THR notes.

Mr. Williams is expected to be executive producer alongside Mr. Washington and Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch.

“Billy Stiles” is an ensemble drama that centers on the title character, a genius gang-member-turned-cop.

It’s based on a short story Mr. Williams wrote six years ago when he was between other writing jobs. He used it as a writing sample until his manager at Mosaic eventually sent it to Mr. Black.

Mr. Black and his partners at Escape Artists came onboard and helped develop the project, and Mr. Black also sent the story to Mr. Washington, who also became interested.

“Billy Stiles” was originally developed as a cable series but was later reworked as a network show and taken to Fox, with Mr. Washington onboard for the pitch, THR says.

Mr. Washington got his start on the NBC series “St. Elsewhere” in the 1980s before moving on to his big-screen career.

Cartoon orders 2

Cartoon Network has ordered a pair of animated series that are expected to premiere next year.

“Regular Show” and “Horrorbots” are expected to join Cartoon’s lineup in 2010, Multichannel.com reports.

The network also announced that Cartoon Network Studios would be producing additional episodes of “The Marvelous MisAdventures of Flapjack,” bringing the total number of half-hour installments to 46.

Meanwhile, an additional season of scripts has also been commissioned for “Adventure Time.”

“Regular Show” is created by J.G. Quintel and was developed as a short for Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute. The story centers on two bored groundskeepers, Mordecai (a 6-foot-tall blue jay) and Rigby (a hyperactive raccoon), best friends who spend their days trying to entertain themselves by any means necessary — much to the displeasure of Benson (their boss, who is a gumball machine) and to the delight of Pops (an older, lollipop-headed gentleman). Their everyday pursuits often lead to things spiraling out of control and into the surreal.

“Horrorbots” tells tale of Thrasher and Blastus, two outsider teenage droids who are only slightly less horrific than the ultra-powerful robots that populate their planet, Killglobe. Now they face their greatest challenge yet: high school.

New development

Will Arnett will reteam with the creative forces behind “Arrested Development” for a new Fox comedy series, TVGuide.com reports.

The project, which will be written by “Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Vallely and Mr. Arnett, has received a script commitment, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Mr. Arnett will star as a Beverly Hills man who falls in love with a tree-hugging woman who can’t stand his lifestyle.

The trio most recently worked together on Fox’s short-lived animated comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up.”

Mr. Arnett played part-time magician Gob Bluth on “Arrested Development.” Mr. Hurwitz and Mr. Vallely won two Emmys in 2005 for the “Righteous Brothers” episode of the series.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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