news digest


Alliance stake in 'CSI' back on the block

TORONTO — A half stake in the popular "CSI" franchise is back in play as Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. confirmed that it is holding sales talks with potential buyers. Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis, which co-produces the "CSI" shows with CBS Prods., said Friday that it is "engaged in discussions regarding a possible sale." Southhill Strategy Inc. — Alliance Atlantis' controlling shareholder and the investment vehicle for the broadcaster's executive chairman, Michael MacMillan — also is participating in the talks.

WGAE saddles Bergman with Hunter award

Andrew Bergman, who penned screenplays for "The In-Laws," "Fletch" and other classic film comedies, will receive the WGA East's Ian McLellan Hunter Award for lifetime achievement. Bergman, who also has written for the stage and authored four novels, will be feted at the guild's 59th annual awards gala, set for Feb. 11 at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York. Bergman began his motion picture career at age 27 by writing the original story and co-authoring the screenplay for "Blazing Saddles."

NATAS, MySpace link for B'band Emmys

NEW YORK — News Corp.'s MySpace and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are set to announce today that they are launching the Broadband Emmy Awards, a new category that will honor video content on the Internet. Beginning Feb. 1, MySpace users will be encouraged to submit their videos for consideration through The awards will be presented in each of the existing Emmy categories, which include daytime, entertainment, news & information, sports as well as public & community service.

'Betty' among iTunes offerings

ABC's Golden Globe-nominated series "Ugly Betty" has joined the offerings available through Apple's iTunes, Disney-ABC Television Group said Friday. Episodes from the beginning of the season are available for $1.99 each, with new episodes made available on iTunes the day after broadcast air. Additionally, the second telenovela "Muchas Muchachas" (Many Girls) from the show is available on, with new webisodes posted every Thursday.

Actors Equity study: Union work up

A new survey from Actors Equity shows that the union's members worked an average of 17.2 weeks in a 52-week period of 2005-06, up from 16.7 weeks during a similar span during 2004-05. Equity data show increases of 9.6% and 4.5%, respectively, in the Central and Western regions, while the Eastern region marked a dip of less than 1%. The survey showed annual median earnings of $7,040, with the Broadway and touring production contract representing the greatest employment generator.

Private Capital lands stake in Avid

NEW YORK — Investment firm Private Capital Management has acquired an 11.9% stake in digital-media software firm Avid Technology Inc., according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday. The firm, led by money manager Bruce Sherman, has invested in media and entertainment companies in the past. As of Sept. 30, it had reported stakes in Time Warner Inc., newspaper firms Gannett Co. Inc., New York Times Co. and McClatchy Co., Belo Corp. and TV station group Hearst-Argyle Television Inc.