news digest


Simpson residuals OK'd for Goldmans

A Los Angeles judge tentatively agreed Tuesday to assign any studio residual payments owed O.J. Simpson to the family of victim Ron Goldman, according to attorneys for the family. The family had petitioned Judge Gerald Rosenberg to take such an action because it has had difficulty collecting on a 1997 civil court ruling awarding $33.5 million to the Goldmans and relatives of Simpson's slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Goldman attorneys said they also are investigating whether the ruling can be applied to any income Simpson made from the recent ill-fated TV project "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened."

Discovery channels Bernstein

Discovery Communications has tapped explorer, author and wilderness educator Josh Bernstein to host and produce specials and series exclusively for Discovery Channel. He will serve as field explorer and executive producer on series and specials covering such topics as anthropology, archaeology and environmental issues. Bernstein, who has hosted History Channel's adventure/archaeology series "Digging for the Truth" for the past three years, joins Discovery Channel in April.

Lifetime taps Gunn as vp series development

Julia Gunn has been named vp series development and current programming at Lifetime Television. In her new role, Gunn will be responsible for scripted series development and current programming, including the upcoming drama series "State of Mind," starring Lili Taylor. The series, from Warner Horizon Television and executive producers Greer Shephard and Michael Robin, is set to premiere in the summer. Gunn will report to Lifetime senior vp original programming Maria Grasso.

NBC Uni stations fill in 'Crosswords'

The syndicated game show "Let's Play Crosswords" has been cleared on five major-market stations owned by NBC Universal. Program Partners, Merv Griffin Entertainment and WMA said Tuesday that the half-hour show, set to launch as a strip in the fall, has been cleared by NBC-owned stations in New York (WNBC), Los Angeles (KNBC), Chicago (WMAQ), San Francisco (KNTV) and Dallas (KXAS) "as part of a comprehensive commitment by the stations group." "Crosswords," being produced in high definition, features contestants answering questions with words that solve a crossword in order to win the game and become a returning champion.

WB adds fare to list at U.K.'s Virgin Media

LONDON — Warner Bros. has joined Buena Vista, Alliance Atlantis and Channel Four by signing a major program-supply deal with cable-based digital broadband service Virgin Media for on-demand rights to shows that include "Nip/Tuck," "The West Wing," "The O.C." and "Friends." Under the terms of the deal, Warner Bros. will license more than 500 episodes of drama and comedy series to the more than 3 million cable homes operated by Virgin Media. The content will be available via Virgin Central, Virgin's on-demand television channel.

MMPA set to fete students at luncheon

The Multicultural Motion Picture Assn. will host its 14th annual luncheon at noon Friday at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills to honor student filmmakers. Hosted by KNBC-TV news anchor Chris Schauble, the event, which is expected to draw a number of Oscar nominees, will honor such civic leaders as Paula Madison, president and GM of KNBC; Angel Rivera, SAG national director of affirmative action and diversity; and Marlene Dove, founder of the Blackwell International Academy of Performing Arts.