- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

Couric to host webcast

CBS News anchor Katie Couric will host an original news webcast immediately following the network´s coverage of Tuesday’s presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, MediaWeek.com reports.

At 10 p.m., just after CBS concludes its prime-time coverage of the day´s historic events, Miss Couric will go live on CBSNews.com for roughly 30 to 45 minutes, featuring additional interviews with political pundits as well as commentary from CBS´ political team.

The Arlington native and former “Today” anchor - who also is CBS News managing editor- anchored similar webcasts throughout the presidential election season, including just after the network´s coverage of each debate and following each night´s broadcasts of both the Republican and Democratic conventions.

CBS officials credit those webcasts with helping bolster CBSNews.com´s audience in 2008. According to Nielsen Online, the site saw its unique user base climb by 26 percent from 2007 to 2008 and time spent on the site surge by 36 percent.

Perhaps as a result of these traffic spikes, CBS has landed Audi as exclusive sponsor of the webcast. The auto brand will run both pre- and post-roll video spots as well as standard banner placements. The sponsorship deal was negotiated by the digital agency Beyond Interaction.

As during previous political webcasts, Miss Couric and her team will showcase the work of citizen journalists during the show, such as photos and videos shot during the inauguration festivities.

Carell wearing new hat

Dunder Mifflin branch manager Michael Scott is branching out into TV producing.

“The Office” star Steve Carell has launched a television division of his Carousel Productions, which has inked a three-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios, the studio behind his NBC comedy series.

According to MediaWeek.com, Thom Hinkle and Campbell Smith of North South Productions, former producers on Mr. Carell’s alma mater, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” have been tapped to run Carousel’s TV operations.

Mr. Carell, who also writes for “The Office” and is a producer on the show, is said to be serious about expanding into TV producing.

The pact with Carousel marks one of the first major talent deals for NBC’s new president of prime-time entertainment, Angela Bromstad,, who oversees the network and studio. During her previous stint as president of UMS predecessor NBC Universal TV Studios, she developed and launched “The Office” and was one of its staunchest supporters during the show’s low-rated early days.

Also said to be instrumental in the deal is NBC Co-chairman Ben Silverman, who executive-produces the show.

Jakes talker on hold

The proposed new daytime talk show from CBS Television Distribution hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes has been put on hold until fall 2010, MediaWeek.com says.

Although Mr. Jakes’ show had been sold to the Tribune stations, the current recession and Tribune’s recent bankruptcy filing put the project on shaky ground.

“We have never seen such a positive reaction to a show as we have to T.D. Jakes, but with the current economic climate that stations and advertisers are facing, we don’t think 2009 is the right time to produce a top-quality series in the manner we and our stations expect,” said John Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution. “We passionately believe in the viability of T.D. Jakes and will work toward a 2010 launch.”

Mr. Jakes’ projects outside the church include a foray into films, including the 2004 box-office hit “Woman, Thou Art Loosed,” based on his best-selling book of the same name. His latest release, “Not Easily Broken,” opened Jan. 9.

Extra work for Trebek

Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek is set to moonlight on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. as host of the reality competition series “Canada’s Next Prime Minister,” the Hollywood Reporter says.

The Canadian-born Mr. Trebek, who got his start at the pubcaster, will share the stage March 18 with three former prime ministers as they field pitches from four would-be politicos before choosing a winner.

Last month, CBC got into hot water after admitting it broke contestant-recruitment rules and contacted political organizations to invite former young political candidates to compete on the series.

According to THR, CBC has sold “Canada’s Next Prime Minister” as a format to the BBC.

On tap tonight …

24 (9 p.m., Fox). President Taylor’s (Cherry Jones) husband (Colm Feore) secretly follows his own agenda.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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

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