- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

‘Lost’ money talks

ABC Studios, which produces the ABC drama “Lost,” has quietly started renegotiations with stars Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly to beef up their paychecks, currently at about $150,000 per episode, the Hollywood Reporter says.

However, word of the talks leaked out by Friday, prompting reps for some of the other regulars to call the studio to open their own renegotiations. The majority of the “Lost” supporting players are in the $80,000-to-$90,000-per-episode range, THR says.

NBC backs Gifford

In light of new criticism about Kathie Lee Gifford — stemming from a “Today” show regular telling her on air last month to stop being such a “chatty Kathie” — NBC is speaking up on behalf of its still relatively new addition to the fourth hour of its top-rated morning program, says People.com, citing a story in the New York Times.

“The feeling here is we love Kathie Lee,” “Today” executive producer Jim Bell tells the newspaper. “She is unique, she’s a character, she’s colorful, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. I don’t think we’d have her any other way.”

Since joining co-host Hoda Kotb in April, Miss Gifford, 54, has been targeted by some TV critics for falling into her same old pattern of monopolizing airtime to talk about herself and her family. An incident last month with Sam the Cooking Guy (Sam Zien) apparently has only fueled the flames — and helped launch some anti-Gifford Web sites — though, as the Times notes, those carping remain relatively small in number.

Speaking of numbers, ratings have declined since Miss Gifford joined the fourth hour — from 1.9 million in the month before her arrival to 1.7 million for the month afterward. The network insists that this is reflective of the typical summer decline in viewership.

New wedding show?

She may have recently called off her real-life nuptials, but Salma Hayek and her producing partner, Jose Tamez, are collaborating with Merv Griffin Television President Roy Bank to develop an hourlong reality series about weddings.

According to Daily Variety, Mr. Bank, who created “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” for Fox, says the trio have had informal discussions with several networks about the program, which offers “a unique take” on nuptials.

Miss Hayek and Mr. Tamez’s TV production unit, Ventanarosa, lists the ABC series “Ugly Betty” among its credits.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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