- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2005

‘Story’ time

We can thank little Ralphie for making “You’ll shoot your eye out” an inexplicable Christmas catchphrase.

TBS’ annual “A Christmas Story” marathon begins at 8 p.m. tomorrow and will run 24 hours straight, giving us no excuse for missing Ralphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB gun.

The 1983 film, directed by “Porky” veteran Bob Clark, follows young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he battles school bullies, a nasty Santa and a culture convinced little boys shouldn’t own BB guns. Darren McGavin radiates fatherly love — and frustration — as the family patriarch, and late author Jean Shepherd provides the narration based on his book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.”

Croquette’s shows

No sooner did “Friends” star Courteney Cox and her husband, David Arquette, produce a baby — Coco, now 1 — than they began producing television programs.

Now the pair have signed a first-look deal with Disney’s Touchstone Television for their Coquette Prods. banner, Reuters news agency reports.

Under the two-year pact, which took effect retroactive to Nov. 1, Touchstone TV will have first crack at Coquette’s development.

Coquette first partnered with Touchstone TV this past development season to co-produce UPN’s comedy pilot “Talk Show Diaries,” starring Nancy Travis.

Miss Cox and Mr. Arquette come to Touchstone Television from Warner Bros. Television, where Coquette had a first-look deal since its inception in 2004.

Under that deal, the husband-and-wife duo developed and are executive producing “Dirt,” a comedy from writer Matthew Carnahan. FX recently ordered a pilot of the program. WBTV had opted not to produce the project, and there is a possibility for Touchstone TV to come in as producer.

Additionally, Coquette and WBTV have a comedy in development at Disney’s ABC. Mr. Arquette is attached to star in the show.

On the unscripted side, Miss Cox and Mr. Arquette executive produce TBS’ comedy reality series “Daisy Does America.”

Olympic sales pitch

The Olympic torch for the 2006 Winter Games won’t be lighted for another few weeks, but NBC already is nearing the finish line for advertising sales.

NBC Universal has sold nearly 90 percent of the ad inventory for the Italy-based games, Reuters news agency reports.

The company already has reached a sales record for a Winter Olympics as it nears its target of $900 million. The previous record was $740 million for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Expect the return of such high-profile Olympic advertisers as Anheuser-Busch, Visa, Coca-Cola, Allstate and General Motors along with such new advertisers as Applebee’s, Target, Exxon Mobil and the new AT&T.

The Olympics are big business for NBC Universal, which puts a lot of effort into the coverage. It already is promising more coverage — to be carried on USA Network, MSNBC and CNBC in addition to the broadcast network — than for any previous Winter Olympics.

It paid $613 million for the rights to carry the 2006 Winter Olympics, and NBC executives expect they’ll turn a profit on the games. Both the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City turned profits for NBC.

Big ‘Bounty’

The bounty-hunter business is doing right by Duane “Dog” Chapman — especially when the cameras are rolling.

Mr. Chapman has signed a $2.6 million deal to return for a third season of A&E’s “Dog, the Bounty Hunter,” Associated Press reports.

The reality show is A&E’s highest-rated series ever.

Mr. Chapman will earn $100,000 per half-hour episode aired on the cable channel, which is believed to be about double what he made for each of the first two seasons, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported Friday.

“We haven’t gotten to really celebrate yet because we’re filming right out of the chute,” says Beth Smith, Mr. Chapman’s partner and companion. “But we got what we wanted.”

Mr. Chapman and Miss Smith declined to comment on the salary figures, citing contract confidentiality.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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