news digest


Regulators approve payola settlement

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators approved a $12.5 million in consent decrees Friday that settles payola allegations against four of the nation's largest radio broadcasters. While the deal closes the FCC's investigation in the pay-for-play practices of Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp., the companies admit to no wrongdoing. In addition to the $12.5 million payment, the broadcasters agreed to implement business reforms and compliance measures to prevent a recurrence.

Miereanu spreads word at WB

Veteran entertainment and sports PR executive Gary Miereanu has been tapped as head of publicity at Warner Bros. Animation. As director of publicity, Miereanu will oversee publicity for the studio and the Warner Bros. Animation library, reporting to Jessica Pinto, vp animation marketing at Warner Bros. Worldwide Television. He also will oversee the communications between WBA and other Warner Bros. units.

Strand a 'Witness' to U.S. distribution

Strand Releasing has acquired U.S. rights to Andre Techine's "The Witnesses" from UGC International. The film, set in Paris in 1984, revolves around a group of friends and lovers who confront the first outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. The film will have its North American premiere June 14 as the opening-night film at Frameline's 31st San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. The deal was concluded by Strand Releasing's Jon Gerrans and UGC's Eva Diederix.

N.Y. sports talk in for 'Imus'

NEW YORK — New York-area listeners accustomed to "Imus in the Morning" will wake up today to a pair of familiar voices. "Mike and the Mad Dog," the sports talk show known to fans in New York, will temporarily fill in for "Imus" while WFAN and CBS Radio management decide what they will do in the morning-drive slot that had been home to Don Imus and company for decades. "Mike and the Mad Dog," hosted by Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, has been the station's afternoon radio call-in show since September 1989. Beginning today, it will air from 6-10 a.m. and then again from 2-6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, after a three-hour meeting with Imus on Friday, the Rutgers team said that it had accepted his apology. And Imus' radiothon to benefit children with cancer and families of sudden infant death syndrome collected $3.4 million on Thursday and Friday.

'Tyra,' DJ AM, Interscope on Doppelganger

Virtual environment creator Doppelganger is adding new social events to its 3-D community through extended partnerships with Interscope Records and "The Tyra Banks Show" as well as a new deal with DJ AM, the company is set to announce today. Through the Doppelganger Music Lounge, fans will be privy to music and events from 12 new Interscope recording artists as well as regular appearances by DJ AM.

Bennett off to N.Y. for SAG

Jeffrey Bennett has been named deputy general counsel for SAG, based in the guild's New York office. He now serves as counsel at SAG's national headquarters in Los Angeles. Effective May 1, Bennett will report to SAG general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, manage operations of the guild's New York-based legal staff and oversee legal affairs and strategy in the eastern U.S. Before joining SAG in 2000, Bennett worked in business affairs at WMA and in entertainment law as a partner at Bennett, Callie and Helmer.