When the Federal Communications Commission gave the go-ahead for Viacom Inc. to take over CBS Corp., it also handed the conglomerate a waiver to continue running UPN, the weblet that revived itself this year with pro wrestling. Federal law previously prohibited companies from running more than one TV network.
But now who is going to oversee UPN?
The weblet currently is headed by Dean Valentine, who reports to Paramount Television Group Chairman Kerry McCluggage. But the latter may not be keeping his oversight of the network for long; Les Moonves, the president of CBS Television, is said to be angling for control of UPN.
McCluggage has a successful recent history on his side, but Moonves has a close relationship with Mel Karmazin, the radio executive who rebuilt CBS and is now running Viacom. Inside sources say that could be the deciding factor in Moonves' favor.
But there's a hitch. If Moonves gets UPN, according to an insider, it would violate McCluggage's current contract. Besides overseeing UPN, McCluggage runs Paramount's TV production operation, which has been a successful supplier of network shows. Many believe McCluggage would walk if UPN were given to Moonves, and that would be a big loss for Paramount.
The two men have been rivals for some time. In the mid-1980s, they were direct competitors when Moonves was running Warner Bros.' TV production operations while McCluggage was running its counterpart operation at Universal Studios.
In recent weeks, rumors have swirled around Hollywood that McCluggage may be moving to NBC as a senior programming executive, but NBC officials as of last week were denying that any such move is in the works.
Hollywood's TV magazine shows are getting a refurbishing. Leeza Gibbons will replace Maureen O'Boyle as the anchor of "Extra," which is produced in Burbank. The syndicated magazine show has been struggling in the ratings ever since it debuted six years ago, although it enjoys its best numbers on NBC-owned stations like KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Los Angeles.
Gibbons, a former "Entertainment Tonight" anchor, will be joined by two new executive producers from "America's Most Wanted." Overseeing them is Lisa Gregorisch, the last producer of "Hard Copy," who has been named to a new post as senior vice president of reality programming at Telepictures, which produces "Extra."
Departing "Extra" is executive producer Susan Sitomer, who jumps to the syndicated TV edition of the National Enquirer, which has also been struggling in the Nielsens but has been renewed for a second season.
Movers & Shakers
Matt Damon is in talks about starring in Universal Pictures' "The Bourne Identity," based on the Robert Ludlum thriller about an amnesiac spy who dashes across Europe eluding assassins. The film is expected to roll in the fall.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.