news digest


Oprah to host Oscar special for ABC

Oprah Winfrey has teamed with ABC for a primetime Oscar special. The daytime talk show queen will host and executive produce "The Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special," which will air Feb. 22, the Thursday before the network's broadcast of the 79th Annual Academy Awards. The one-hour special will feature Oscar winners Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Jamie Foxx doing one-on-one interviews with an Oscar-winning actor of their choice. Roberts will interview George Clooney at his Los Angeles home, Kidman will meet Russell Crowe at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Foxx will sit down with Sidney Poitier on the stage where the veteran actor won his Oscar for "Lilies of the Field" in 1963.

2 mil worship 'Mosque' in CBC premiere

TORONTO — The debut of Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s "Little Mosque on the Prairie" drew more than 2 million viewers Tuesday, beating its U.S. network competition. Launched amid a media circus that included worldwide coverage from CNN, BBC and the New York Times, the sitcom about a Muslim community in rural Canada drew an average 2.1 million viewers in its 8:30 p.m. slot, according to BBM Nielsen numbers. In a TV market where 1 million viewers spells success and homegrown series rarely crack the top 20, "Mosque" won out against Fox's "House" on Global Television and CTV homegrown drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

HFPA settles gift-box flap with IRS

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has reached an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service that settles tax obligations stemming from gift boxes the HFPA presented to Golden Globe presenters in 2005. The HFPA will issue informational tax forms to recipients of its 2006 boxes, who will be responsible for satisfying their tax obligations. Beginning next year, the HFPA will stop handing out gifts to presenters.

Morris stays as chair of BAFTA/LA

Peter Morris, chairman of the board of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles, will continue in that role this year, it was announced Wednesday. Also continuing are deputy chair David Ginsburg and secretary Alexander Rufus-Isaacs. Bumble Ward remains but is stepping down as treasurer, with Ian Wrigley taking that post. Newly elected Pam Wilson joins the board, while Gary Dartnall returns. Donald Haber continues as executive director and chief operating officer.

Syndie rumors for ex-DA Pirro, Wilkos

Jeanine Pirro, former district attorney for New York's Westchester County, is being eyed to preside over Telepictures Prods.' celebrity-jury show, sources said. The syndicated project, which has yet to be confirmed by Telepictures or the show's distributor, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, is described as a court show in which celebrities will serve as jurors. Telepictures declined comment Wednesday. Meanwhile, rumors resurfaced that "The Jerry Springer Show" head of security Steve Wilkos might be getting his own talker. NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution declined comment.

Weinstein has novel pair for 'Equalizer' redo

The Weinstein Co. has signed Michael Connelly and Terrill Lee Lankford to adapt the 1980s TV series "The Equalizer" for the big screen. Paul McGuigan's action film follows an ex-government operative who strikes out on his own. Connelly and Lankford are novelists: Connelly's books include "Echo Park," and Lankford's include "Blonde Lightning."