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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
September 20

Entertainment News September 20 - TOP 3 Stories for Thursday

ALSO ON SITE

DAN RATHER SUES CBS FOR $70 MILLION

Dan Rather filed a $70 million suit against CBS Corp. and three of his former superiors alleging they violated his contract by forcing him to step down after Memogate in 2005.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Gotham, names CEO Les Moonves, chairman Sumner Redstone, and former CBS News prexy Andrew Heyward, and alleges that the network commissioned a biased investigation of the story about President Bush’s Air National Guard Service that “seriously damaged his reputation.”

Rather charges that CBS made him the scapegoat in the matter, even though he had little to do with the gathering of the facts on the story, which aired on the now-cancelled “60 Minutes II" in September 2005.

The suit, reported on the website of the New York Times, comes more than a year after Rather left CBS and months after the Eye settled a $50 million wrongful termination suit filed by radio host Don Imus.

In a statement, CBS said, “these complaints are old news and this lawsuit is without merit.”

NBC TO SHOW EPISODES ON INTERNET AS WELL

NBC will make episodes of its programs available for download on its Web site for one week after their original broadcast, the network said Wednesday.

It's NBC Uni's latest move to make its content available online following a public pre-Labor Day dispute with Apple over pricing and bundling on its iTunes platform. After the network decided not to renew its contract with Apple, which runs out in December, the company said new NBC content will not be available at the iTunes Store when the fall season starts (HR 9/3).

The new initiative, dubbed NBC Direct, will start in beta in October and will make episodes available for download from NBC.com on Windows-based PCs. Once downloaded, the content will be encrypted so that it can't be viewed more than a week after the first network airing.

A mix of veteran and new shows will be available at launch: "Heroes," "The Office," "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Life" and "Bionic Woman."

NBC said it would expand the initiative in the next several months to include DRM-protected episodes compatible with Macs and portable devices and a peer-to-peer distribution network. The network said that it would provide further business models in 2008, including download-to-own, rental and subscription.

CG-ANIMATION COMES TO THE WEINSTEIN CO.

The first CG-animated film in the Weinstein Co. and Exodus Film Group's multi-picture, co-production pact will be the aquatic family comedy, "Navy Seals."

In a story concept developed at Exodus and based on true Marine heroes, an elite group of U.S. Navy dolphins are captured. Their one chance at freedom depends on the help of a group of misfit seals.

The comedy-filled adventure is set to be scripted by Justin Eick. Exodus CEO John D. Eraklis will produce the feature and president Max Howard will executive produce. TWC production exec Eric Robinson is overseeing the project on behalf of his studio.

The TWC/Exodus pact, unveiled in May, has its roots in TWC's 2006 acquisition of worldwide distribution rights to Exodus' first CG-animated film "Igor." Under the new pact, TWC and Exodus will develop, produce and finance animated features, DVDs and TV series, which TWC will distribute.

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