news digest


NCAA hoops scores for CBS Sports

PITTSBURGH — A bevy of overtime games in the opening weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament gave CBS Sports a tie for its best ratings for a first round since 1991. Meanwhile, ABC traveled to victory in Thursday's primetime with a time-period win for its new 10 p.m. drama "October Road," which averaged 14.3 million viewers and a 5.8 rating/ 16 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary data released Friday by Nielsen Media Research; final ratings will be released today. The first three days of the NCAA March Madness telecasts — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — averaged a 5.5/12, according to preliminary data released Sunday, up 2% from 2006's 5.4/12 and the best three-day average since the 5.5/12 in 2002.

Nat'l Geographic ups Scolnik

National Geographic is set to announce today that it has promoted Betsy Scolnik to president of digital media. In her new position, Scolnik will oversee National Geographic Ventures' digital media and business initiatives, including, the organization's digital film archive, shortform video programming, production and distribution and the Green Guide, a Web site and bimonthly newsletter. NGV's acquisition of the Green Guide also is set to be announced today.

RAI screenings set for Sardinia

ROME — The 12th edition of RAI Trade Screenings, the annual sales event for Italy's state broadcaster, will be held on the island of Sardinia, RAI Trade sales director Sesto Cifola said Friday. The official announcement will take place this month. It will be the first time the invitation-only event — which will run April 11-13 — will be held on Sardinia, where it will be hosted by the Forte Village Resort. The event will feature more than 200 buyers from about 80 countries, representing more than 100 companies.

Gonggryp tapped sr. vp at Par HR

Heidi Gonggryp has been named senior vp human resources at Paramount Pictures. In her post, she will be responsible for all aspects of domestic and international human resources operations including recruitment and organizational, executive, management and employee development. She will report to COO Frederick Huntsberry. Before Paramount, Gonggryp was senior vp human resources at Virgin Entertainment Group.

ABC places 'Bet' on German format

Popular British TV hosting duo Anthony McPartlin and Decan Donnelly have signed on to host ABC's reality pilot "Wanna Bet?" Based on a German format, "Bet," from the Gurin Co., is a variety show with gambling elements. McPartlin and Donnelly, known in the U.K. as Ant and Dec, have hosted such popular British reality series as "Pop Idol" and "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"

Filmmakers set for Directors Lab

Film Independent unveiled the fellows for its seventh annual Directors Lab, a seven-week program for helmers working in indie films. This year's participants, announced Friday, are Eric Escobar, "Army of One"; Silas Howard, "Exactly Like You"; Joshua Leonard, "Spectacular Regret"; Alonso Mayo, "The Story of Luke"; Nicki Paluga, "The Swiss Village"; Robbie Pickering, "Natural Selection"; Sharat Raju, "Sacred Grounds"; and Amie Williams, "Jua Kali." The lab runs through April 16 in Los Angeles.