news digest


Engvall, Cyrus take 'Bait'

Bill Engvall and Billy Ray Cyrus are set to star in the comedy feature "Bait Shop" for Lionsgate Home Entertainment. C.B. Harding is directing the film, which also stars Harve Presnell and Richard Riehle. J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment and Alan Blomquist are producing the film, which was written by Engvall, Tom Ryan, Bear Aderhold and Tom Sullivan. Production on the film, which will be distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment as a DVD original feature, is set to begin today in Orlando.

Magnolia, Shorts team for Oscar shorts

Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International are partnering for the third year to distribute this year's 10 Oscar-nominated short films. The shorts program will bow Feb. 15 in 50 U.S. cities, expanding in subsequent weeks. The release will use co-sponsor Rain Network's digital distribution system.

Ski Channel on slopes with Cox

The Ski Channel has inked a multiyear distribution partnership with Cox Communications ahead of its launch this year. The numbers of subscribers added through Cox was not disclosed, but industry sources said the pact gives Ski Channel about 3 million additional homes for a total of 13 million subscribers. The network expects to be in more than 20 million households at launch.

Comcast to close AZN in April

NEW YORK — Comcast will shut down AZN Television, its English-language network targeting Asian Americans, in April because it couldn't make the channel work financially. The cable giant, however, reiterated its commitment to serving the demographic. A spokeswoman said Comcast still will offer 11 networks and two VOD services for Asian Americans. AZN's Asian Excellence Awards show this year will move to Comcast's E! Entertainment network, she added.

NBC shuffles midseason lineup

NBC has set a new premiere date and a new time slot for "Quarterlife." The acquired Internet series will now launch at 10 p.m. Feb. 16 behind "The Biggest Loser." Beginning March 2, it will air in its regular Sunday 9 p.m. period. "Quarterlife," from Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, originally was slotted to premiere Feb. 18 and air Mondays at 9 p.m. after the new reality series "Baby Borrowers." As a result of the scheduling plans for "Quarterlife," other recent NBC acquisitions "Monk" and "Psych" from USA Network — originally slated to run as a two-hour Sunday block beginning March 2 — will now premiere April 6, airing from 8-10 p.m.

'L Word' gets second online sneak

Showtime is giving an upcoming episode of "The L Word" an online sneak peek after ratings for its Season 5 premiere popped after a similar move., a social network partly owned by Showtime that caters to the lesbian audience depicted on "L Word," again will host an advance screening Feb. 18. Last month, "L Word" saw its premiere deliver a 36% bigger audience than the previous season premiere after that episode debuted on OurChart.