news digest


Cosby among crew on 'Laugh' track

Bill Cosby has joined a who's who of black comedians for the Robert Townsend-directed documentary "Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy." The Codeblack Entertainment docu, inspired by a book by comedian-writer Darryl Littleton, is a no-holds-barred, uncensored look at black comedy and its cultural influence. It also examines the social impact of black comedy and its notable artists. Cosby joins a cast of comedians that include Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, George Wallace, Paul Mooney and Katt Williams. Codeblack's Quincy Newell and Littleton are producing, along with Richard Foos. Codeblack's Jeff Clanagan is executive producing. Townsend and Angela Northington are co-executive producing.

News Corp. close to Newsday buy

NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. on Tuesday was considered to be close to a deal to buy Newsday from Tribune for about $580 million. The two companies declined comment. The move could help Newsday and News Corp.'s New York Post save costs and boost the New York papers' bottom line. The Wall Street Journal, also owned by News Corp., said the deal would be structured as a joint venture in which Tribune would retain a stake of less than 5%. Tribune CEO Sam Zell has signaled that he could sell some assets to boost his firm's financial flexibility. In a separate development Tuesday, Marcus Brauchli resigned as managing editor of the Journal less than a year after taking the job and a few months after News Corp. bought the Journal.

Emmys will recognize reality hosts

Reality TV hosts will get their due at this year's Emmys. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' board of governors has voted to create a new award category for outstanding host for a reality or reality competition program. The award will be presented at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 on ABC from its new home at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. According to the rules, those eligible for the new award will be the proactive "master of ceremony" hosts and does not include reactive participants or judges.

'Comes With Music' comes to Sony BMG

LONDON — Sony BMG is the latest music company to sign up with Nokia's "Comes With Music" phone. The breakthrough should give a shot in the arm to Nokia's mooted subscription service, which effectively embeds the cost of a year's service in the price of the device. Until the announcement, unveiled Tuesday at Dave Stewart's central London business hub the Hospital, only Universal Music Group had come on board the content-bundling initiative, having struck a content licensing deal in December. Speaking at the launch function, Tero Ojanpera, executive vp and head of Nokia Entertainment, spoke with almost a philanthropic air about what the service hopes to achieve. "What we want to do is to drive the consumer," Ojanpera said. "We want to make music a business for Nokia, for our partners, and we want to expand the music industry." Nokia will launch a range of handsets under its "Comes With Music" brand in unspecified markets during second-half 2008.