- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

‘A.I.’ sued

Former employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against “American Idol” producer FremantleMedia North America, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The suit claims the company systematically overworked employees without paying the required overtime, falsified timecards and denied staffers meals and rest periods.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, strongly resembles a previous class-action suit against reality companies and broadcasters that was settled recently for $4 million. The earlier suit was launched in conjunction with the Writers Guild of America, which has been going after reality production companies and networks in an attempt to organize reality staffers.

According to THR, the trio of employees who initiated the suit worked in various production positions on shows such as “Idol,” the syndicated game show “Temptation,” Oxygen’s “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency” and Fox’s upcoming “Osbournes: Reloaded.” Several production companies that apparently are satellite FremantleMedia entities also are named — Blue Orbit Entertainment, Little Pond Television, Kickoff Productions inc. and American Idol Productions.

Fremantle did not immediately return a request for comment, THR said.

NBC cans some reality

Days after announcing its new schedule, NBC has pulled the plug on a slew of reality shows, according to reports from TVWeek.com and TheFutoncritic.com citing unnamed sources at the network.

Among those shows not returning will be “Celebrity Circus,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Fear Itself,” “The Baby Borrowers” and “American Gladiators.” Additionally, “Most Outrageous Moments” will no longer produce new episodes, and Thom Beers’ “Americas Toughest Jobs” and “Mommas Boys” will not be getting renewals. Mr. Beers’ other shows that were part of his contract with NBC have been pulled as well, says TheFutoncritic.com.

Ratings chatter

• Thursday night’s “Tonight Show” appearance by President Obama, a first for a sitting president, delivered the program’s highest rating in metered-market households since its tribute to Johnny Carson in January 2005, Broadcastingcable.com reports. The show got the fourth-highest-rated metered-market household rating in the 16 years Mr. Leno has been hosting it. The only nights topping it were Mr. Leno’s first night hosting in May 1992, the night of the “Cheers” finale in May 1993 and the night of the “Seinfeld” finale in 1998. Mr. Leno did not have to compete with the “Late Show With David Letterman,” but he was up against college basketball on CBS, which typically draws strong ratings.

• The ratings news isn’t as rosy for the new ABC sitcom “Better Off Ted, which got off to a so-so start in its Wednesday premiere — in tandem with “Scrubs” — in the 8 p.m. hour, Variety says. The comedy, starring Jay Harrington and Portia de Rossi, bowed at 8:30 p.m. and attracted 5.6 million viewers, according to preliminary data from Nielsen. Fox, of course, dominated the night overall with the 9 p.m. installment of “American Idol,” which rang up 23.1 million viewers.

‘Music’ back on VH1

VH1 is reviving its former signature series “Behind the Music,” THR says.

The cable network is ordering about 10 new episodes of “Music,” bringing back the iconic documentary program, which ran for several years on VH1 starting in 1997.

Lil Wayne and Scott Weiland have signed on to participate, and the network is nearing agreements with several other artists.

VH1 had a reminder of the show’s popularity last fall when it aired a well-received 90-minute live New Kids on the Block “Behind the Music” special. VH1 stopped airing regular episodes of “BTM” in 2002, then aired just a few a year until 2006.

This time, network will update the show’s format for 2009, but not too much. Jim Forbes is back as the “BTM” narrator, though the new episodes will add more current footage to anchor the story in the present day.

On tap tonight

Forgotten Ellis Island (10:30, WETA-Channel 26) — The story of Ellis Island Hospital, which closed in 1954. In its heyday, its 22-brick buildings (sprawled across two islands) were the site of hundreds of births and many more deaths as its staff treated and cared for U.S. immigrants at the turn of the 20th century.

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

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide