news digest


Ex-WGAW staffer guilty of embezzlement

A former WGA West employee was charged Thursday by the federal government of conspiring with another to embezzle more than $17,000 from foreign levies payments a year ago. The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Michelle Trinh a former assistant administrator for the WGAW's Foreign Levies Fund, with setting up a fake membership account for her friend in order to receive the funds. Her accomplice, Tracey Howze, also was charged with conspiracy to embezzle. Trinh and Howze, both of Los Angeles, already have agreed to plead guilty to the charges. They will be formally arraigned next month before being sentenced. They each face a maximum of five years in federal prison.

ABC reups 5 unscripted shows

ABC announced the renewal of five competitive ratings performers from its unscripted lineup. The network has picked up for next season "Dancing With the Stars," "Wife Swap," "Supernanny," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and the 19th season of "America's Funniest Home Videos." Absent from the list are "Dance Wars," the freshman "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Bachelor," which is returning in a "Bachelorette" version that debuts next month.

Lagasse cooks with Planet Green

Planet Green, Discovery Communications' new eco-lifestyle network, has tapped Emeril Lagasse to host his own series. The network, which launches in June, said Thursday that the tentatively titled "Emeril Green" will feature Lagasse sharing his ideas with viewers about how to cook healthy meals. The daily series, debuting in July, is a partnership with Whole Foods Market. It will be shot on location there, with Lagasse enlisting the help of the Whole Foods team and others to handpick the best ingredients for a particular recipe.

Sarasota taps festival all-stars

Now in its 10th year, the Sarasota Film Festival has tapped United Artists' Paula Wagner and CAA's Rick Nicita as honorary chairs. Charlize Theron, Ted Hope and Stanley Tucci also have been tapped as honorees. The Sarasota fest runs April 4-13.

Style makes 'Big' bigger

The Style Network has acquired 13 hourlong episodes of Beyond Distribution's reality competition show "Making It Big," which follows young professionals who compete for a reward money can't buy: job connections and mentoring by a high-profile leader in their dream industry, be it fashion photography, event planning, costume designing or something else. The show debuts on Style at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

'Duet' for CMT, Morreale

Rossi Morreale, host of the syndicated game show "Temptation," has been tapped to host CMT's "Can You Duet," the new music competition show from FremantleMedia North America. "Duet," set to debut at 10:30 p.m. April 14, aims to find the best country music duet in America. Morreale also serves as special correspondent for "TBS Weekend Extra" and has hosted Style Network's "Foody Call."