Conventional wisdom used to hold that owning a TV network was tantamount to having a license to print money, but at least two networks are reportedly having such a tough time selling ads during their children's programming on Saturday morning that they're considering leasing the time slots to whoever will give them the best price.
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that NBC and Fox are getting ready to throw in the towel on original programming in the time slot and are in negotiations with several outside programmers -- including Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Discovery Communications, Sony and Canadian children's television producer Nelvana -- on a possible deal.
Citing sources close to the talks, the paper said that NBC and Fox may soon announce the winning bidders, and that the deal could be worth $5 million to $10 million for each network beginning next fall.
The development follows a long struggle in which networks have been losing competitive ground to children's cable networks such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
CBS leased its Saturday morning air time to Nickelodeon more than one year ago, and has seen its ratings nearly double, according to the Times. CBS and Nickelodeon are both owned by Viacom Inc.
COURTS HAND STUDIOS VICTORY ON DIGITAL RIGHTS
A federal appeals court in New York has handed Hollywood studios a victory in the emerging field of digital copyright law, ruling that a Web site may not legally post instructions on how to make unauthorized copies of DVDs, using descrambling software.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1988 does not infringe on constitutionally protected free speech.
A federal judge in Trenton, N.J. has also thrown out a suit challenging the constitutionality of the DMCA. The suit, which was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, alleged that recording industry executives used coercion to prevent a group of researchers from publishing their report on ways in which digitally recorded music can be pirated.
PRODUCERS GUILD ANNOUNCES FOUR NEW HALL OF FAMERS
The Producers Guild of America has announced that the movies "Network" and "The Manchurian Candidate" and the TV shows "Maude" and "Happy Days" will be inducted into the guild's hall of fame.
"Network" won four Oscars in 1976, including best actor (Peter Finch), actress (Faye Dunaway), supporting actress (Beatrice Straight) and original screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky). It was nominated for best picture and director (Sidney Lumet).
John Frankenheimer was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Directors Guild of America award for best director for "The Manchurian Candidate," but the picture was largely overlooked at the Oscars. Angela Lansbury was nominated for supporting actress.
"Happy Days," starring Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, ran on ABC from 1974-84. "Maude," a spin-off from "All in the Family" starring Beatrice Arthur, Bill Macy and Adrienne Barbeau, ran on CBS from 1972-78.
They'll be inducted into the PGA hall of fame at the guild's annual awards ceremony on March 3.
HONORS FOR SEAN PENN
The 17th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will honor Sean Penn with its Modern Master Award.
The festival runs from Feb. 23-March 3, 2002. Penn will pick up his award on March 2.
Penn's stars in the upcoming movie "I Am Sam" about a disabled man fighting to retain custody of his son.
CARREY INTERESTED IN PLAYING HOWRD HUGHES?
Carrey, due on screens in December in "The Majestic," reportedly got to know Nolan after seeing "Memento" and the two discovered they shared a mutual interest in Hughes.
'HARRY POTTER' BANNED IN SOME AUSSIE SCHOOL LIBRARIES
You won't find "Harry Potter" books on the shelves at Seventh-Day Adventist schools in Australia, because the religious organization officially bans library books about the occult.
Church officials say the ban only applies to library acquisitions, and that if students at church-run schools want to buy "Harry Potter" books on their own, that's all right.
The movie version of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- which goes by the name "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the Untied States -- opened at theaters in Australia Thursday.
Mariah Carey seems to have regained control of her life, following this summer's nervous breakdown.
Gossip columnist Liz Smith reports that Carey -- currently in Europe promoting her latest CD -- asked if she could stop in Kosovo on Dec. 4 to entertain U.S. troops. Smith reported that Carey wanted to go to an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, but couldn't get satisfactory security arrangements.
Carey's greatest hits CD is due in stores before Christmas, and she stars in a CBS-TV special -- "Home for the Holidays with Mariah Carey" -- on Dec. 21. The show features appearances by Destiny' Child, Enrique Iglesias and Mandy Moore.
DEAN CAIN GETS THE BEAR
Dean Cain ("The Adventures of Lois & Clark") will star in a new TV movie based on the '60s TV show, "Gentle Ben."
Dennis Weaver starred in the TV series from 1967-69, as wildlife officer Tom Wedloe -- the father of an 8-year-old boy (Clint Howard) whose best friend was a 650-pound American black bear.
The new TV movie reportedly will air in March on Animal Planet.
STARS LINE UP FOR MUSIC AWARDS
The line-up of performers will also include Cher, performing the TV debut of her new single "Song For The Lonely," and gospel star Yolanda Adams.