news digest


Oprah can't help 'Housewives'

ABC's "Desperate Housewives" became the latest scripted drama to return to air, but it met with disappointing ratings results Sunday. Without "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in the lineup, the network moved "Oprah's Big Give" to the 8 p.m. slot (1.9 million total viewers and a preliminary 2.9 rating/8 share). But it had a tough time jump-starting the night, falling 9% from last week to post a season low. Receiving its weakest lead-in to date, "Desperate" had its lowest original telecast ever (16 million, 5.7/13) yet handily won the 9 p.m. hour. At 10 p.m., ABC tried out Thursday night regular "Eli Stone," which benefited from the strong lead-in (9.2 million, 2.9/7). "Stone" was up 16% from its season average and won the 10 p.m. hour.

ESPN Films steps up for Robinson bio

NEW YORK — ESPN Films has signed on to co-produce a biopic on Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the Major League Baseball color barrier in the late 1940s. The as-yet-untitled theatrical film, which could be released next year, comes from Robert Redford and his Wildwood Enterprises and Baldwin/Cohen Prods. Redford will play Branch Rickey.

DreamColor comes true for HP, DWA

LAS VEGAS — HP and DreamWorks Animation previewed new display technology Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas. The HP DreamColor Technology computer display is being developed with a goal of providing accurate, predictable color and a simple color management process in a widescreen liquid crystal display. A collaboration between HP and DWA, the technology is scheduled for availability in June.

Davis named Versus topper

Jamie Davis has been named president of Comcast's Versus network. He will joined the channel in September, succeeding Gavin Harvey, who will continue to consult with the network through 2008 as Versus completes its relocation from Stamford, Conn., to Philadelphia. Harvey said this year that he would not be making the move to Philadelphia for a range of reasons.

Cablers fill in executive offices

Gary Bonilla has been named to the new position of senior vp creative strategy at Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. In other executive appointments, Stacy Isenhower has been upped to senior vp programming and scheduling at Cartoon Network. Elsewhere, NBC Universal has pinned senior vp stripes on Susan Malfa.

'Bad Guys' gets good B.H. fest reception

Rick Jacobson's crime drama "Bad Guys" captured three awards at the eighth annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival awards ceremony: The audience award for best feature, best producer for Frederico LaPenda and best actor for Sherman Augustus. "Hole in the Paper Sky" won the audience award for best short and best screenplay (Howard Kingkade and Bill Purple). Ziad Hamzeh's "Woman" earned the Golden Palm Award for best film in all categories.