- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rather sues Moonves, ex-CBS News chief

Former TV news anchor Dan Rather sued CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward on Monday in a bid to have them reinstated as defendants in his $70 million lawsuit against the network.

In a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, Mr. Rather accuses the two men of fraud relating to his claim that CBS made him a scapegoat in a scandal over a 2004 report on President George W. Bush’s military record, Associated Press reports.

“These are the two individuals who committed the crime on behalf of CBS, and we’re holding them personally responsible,” said Martin Gold, Mr. Rather’s lawyer.

Mr. Rather claims CBS breached his contract and its fiduciary duty in part by not giving him enough on-air assignments after he was removed in March 2005 after 24 years as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”

The network has appealed to have Mr. Rather’s entire 2007 lawsuit thrown out, and the state appellate division is considering the appeal.

“If anything, this latest tactic confirms that the whole charade is more a tiresome plea for attention by Rather than a serious lawsuit,” CBS said in a statement.

Mr. Moonves and Mr. Heyward were named in Mr. Rather’s original 2007 lawsuit. But in April 2008, New York State Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman rejected Mr. Rather’s charge that CBS executives had damaged his future job prospects, saying Mr. Rather could not support the claim.

Judge Gammerman also threw out a fraud claim against CBS on grounds that Mr. Rather could not prove he had lost any income as a result of the network’s actions.

Last month, however, the judge accepted an amended complaint that once again included a fraud claim against CBS after Mr. Rather’s attorney argued that the veteran newsman’s income had been reduced by several million dollars following his departure from CBS.

Mr. Gold said he expected the claims against the executives to be reinstated for the same reason.

In its report on Mr. Bush, CBS later acknowledged that documents used in the Sept. 8, 2004, story could not be authenticated. The network aired the report two months before the presidential election pitting Mr. Bush against Democrat John Kerry.

Mr. Rather now produces an hourlong news program, “Dan Rather Reports,” for the cable channel HDNet, available to viewers with high-definition TV sets.

‘Caprica’ bow set

Syfy has set Jan. 22 as a premiere date for its highly anticipated series “Caprica,” Variety reports.

The series is a prequel to the cabler’s “Battlestar Galactica,” which concluded its fourth and final season on March 20.

The “Caprica” story line predates “Battlestar” by 58 years and stars Esai Morales, Eric Stoltz, Paula Malcomson and Polly Walker.

The pilot - written by Ronald Moore and Remi Aubuchon, helmed by “Friday Night Lights” house director Jeffrey Reiner and completed last year - runs two hours. Syfy has ordered an additional 20 hours, and it’s unknown whether they’ll be split into two seasons.

Production on the second episode began July 15 in Vancouver.

“Caprica” will air Fridays at 10 p.m.

Arnold’s back

Tom Arnold is giving TV another try. According to Variety, he’s sealing a blind script deal with Universal Media Studios.

Under the pact, the comic actor will write and produce a half-hour sitcom for Universal’s sister network NBC. Mr. Arnold may star as well, although the deal at the moment focuses on his development services. The arrangement is through his 2 Dog Limit production company, Variety says.

Mr. Arnold, a former husband of Roseanne Barr’s, created and starred in the sitcoms “The Tom Show” for the WB and “Tom” for CBS. More recently, he has been a guest on shows including “ER,” “Dirt” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and starred in the films “A Christmas Proposal” and “Moonlight and Mistletoe.”

Mr. Arnold also has embarked on a stand-up tour, his first in 20 years, Variety notes.

Kattan on IFC

Known best for the loopy characters he played on “Saturday Night Live” (Can anyone say Mango?), Chris Kattan will be seen next in IFC’s three-part miniseries “Bollywood Hero.”

Premiering Thursday, Friday and Saturday, this musical/comedy/romance stars Mr. Kattan as himself - or, in the vein of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Extras,” an exaggerated version of himself. Frustrated with being typecast, he travels to India for a role as a swashbuckling leading man.

The Body now on Tru

“Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura” has been grabbed by TruTV, says TVWeek,com, citing a report by the Hollywood Reporter.

The outspoken Mr. Ventura is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, former governor of Minnesota and former professional wrestler who was known as “The Body.”

The show will begin airing later this year.

Some gains for ABC

Dating games and “Wipeout” are essentially keeping ABC afloat this summer.

“The Bachelorette” brought in 10 million viewers last week, with its post-game talkathon getting about 2 million fewer people, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Wipeout” garnered 6.79 million viewers.

There was considerably less enthusiasm for “Defying Gravity,” the network’s series about astronauts on a lengthy flight, which debuted to just 3.7 million viewers last week.

Still, that was the most-watched scripted series on the network last week - a smaller audience than four airings of the Univision telenovela “Manana Para Siempre.” Even repeats of relatively well-known ABC series such as “Private Practice” (2.3 million) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.1 million) had microscopic numbers.

As is typical this summer, CBS’ reruns ruled the week and led the network to a weekly ratings win.

HBO’s vampire series “True Blood” was seen by a series-best 4.3 million viewers for its weekly debut. Add in multiple showings and on-demand orders, and an estimated 11.2 million viewers see the series each week.

USA also said its July 16 episode of “Burn Notice” was seen by 8.3 million people over a full week, including DVR playbacks - the first USA scripted show to reach the 8 million mark.

CBS averaged 6.2 million prime-time viewers last week. NBC averaged 5.1 million, Fox had 4.8 million, ABC 4.4 million, My Network TV 1.6 million, the CW 1.2 million and ION Television 570,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 2.9 million, Telemundo had 970,000 and TeleFutura 880,000 and Azteca 140,000 .

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.8 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 6.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.6 million viewer.

For the week of July 27 through Aug. 2, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), NBC, 13.25 million; 2) “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 11.19 million; 3) “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 10 million; 4) “NCIS,” CBS, 9.73 million; 5) “60 Minutes,” CBS, 9.61 million; 6.) “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 9.07 million; 7) “The Mentalist,” CBS, 8.73 million; 8) “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), NBC, 8.56 million; 9) “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8.48 million; and 10) “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 8.13 million.

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

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