iN Demand Says No Moore
Behold the power of television: Two documentaries slated to air before the election are causing a certifiable brouhaha for networks, filmmakers and candidates alike.
Last week, Sen. John F. Kerry and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ("the conservative senator from Massachusetts," says the president) were up in arms over an anti-Kerry documentary slated to air on 62 stations owned by the Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Now, the cable pay-per-view company iN Demand has pulled a three-hour election-eve special with filmmaker Michael Moore. "The Michael Moore Pre-Election Special" was set to include a showing of his box office coup "Fahrenheit 9/11," as well as interviews with politically charged celebs, all for the low price of $9.95.
A company spokesman told the Associated Press on Friday that the decision is based on "legitimate business and legal concerns." But Moore, who inked a contract with iN Demand in early September, said he is contemplating legal action because he feels the company succumbed to pressure from "top Republican people."
"There's been one struggle or another over this, but we've always come out on top," said Moore, whose documentary would reach about one-quarter of the nation's homes if aired on iN Demand. "You can't tell Americans they can't watch this."
In a twist worthy of a TV drama, Moore told the Sinclair Broadcast Group on Friday that he'd let them air the special for free. Who knows if the broadcaster will accept, but it sure might help with those pesky "fair and balanced" issues Sinclair's having.
The Oprah Effect
Who knew so many Americans were in need of a set of wheels? Oprah did. And her handy-dandy ratings juggernaut -- giving away 276 Pontiacs during the first show of her 19th season -- has inspired LaVar Arrington to team up with Easterns Automotive and Hot 99.5 to give away a dozen cars by Christmas.
"They're free and clear, just like on Oprah," said Easterns CEO Robert Bassam, who received 1,100 e-mails from radio listeners competing for the first car given away Friday. "I had the whole office reading. It just tears your heart to read these things."
Friday's winner, single mother Shantelle Wingfield, won a 2001 Nissan Sentra and $1,000. Every Friday between now and Christmas, another winner will be presented with a "late-model" car during 99.5's "Hot Morning Mess" show.
Immobile teenagers need not apply.
Trump: You're Roasted
It was Donald Trump's turn to take the hot seat at the Friars Club 100th anniversary celebrity "roast" Friday night. Trump had to sit through a barrage of well-intended assaults, but the real test faced the roasters. Where does one begin? The hair? The women? The reality TV show? They hit it all.
Before a crowd of 1,700 guests who paid 500 big ones a plate, more than 70 performers and famous faces took potshots at the Donald under the baton of roastmaster Regis Philbin. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Susie Essman told the crowd that she and Trump weren't fast friends. "I wasn't your type," she said. "I'm smart, my [breasts] are real and I speak English."
Another hit performance came from NBC chief Jeff Zucker, who shared that "The Apprentice" was really Trump's second show idea. The first? "Extreme Hair Comb-Over."
Looks like Nicky Hilton, 21, has taken a page from the "Britney Spears Guide to Marriage." The heiress, who did it up Vegas-style a mere two months ago, is preparing to file for an annulment from her husband, Todd Meister, 33. The bicoastal couple say the split is amicable . . . In other Hilton news, sister Paris, 23, has lent her name to a chain of nightclubs to open in Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, London and guess where else? Paris. The older Hilton will collect a "seven-figure" signing bonus just for lending her name to the clubs, which she helped decorate and is obligated to appear in twice monthly. The first Club Paris opens in Orlando on New Year's Eve.
-- Compiled by Laura Thomas
from staff and wire reports