news digest


UMG's BMG buy clears 2 major hurdles

Universal Music Group's $2.1 billion acquisition of BMG Music Publishing cleared a stateside hurdle Tuesday as the FTC and the Justice Department gave antitrust approval to the deal. The European Commission must now approve the deal, announced by Vivendi and Bertelsmann in September (HR 9/7). If European regulators approve the purchase, the melding of UMG and BMG's publishing interests will create the biggest publishing unit in the world, with about one-quarter of the overall publishing business.

KTTV goes 'Hollywood' with new show

Fox owned-and-operated station KTTV Los Angeles said Tuesday that it will launch an hourlong weekly entertainment program titled "That's So Hollywood" on Saturday. The show, hosted by Mark Thompson and Jillian Reynolds of KTTV and Lauren Sanchez of Fox O&O KCOP, will air regularly at 6 p.m. Saturdays, with repeat airings at 11 p.m. Sunday. "Hollywood" will recap the top entertainment stories of the week, and correspondents will give viewers an inside look at screenings, premieres, parties, club openings and film festivals.

Lauren taps Dana, sets up Winchester pic

Andrew Lauren Prods., which has appointed P. Jennifer Dana president of production, also has begun developing a psychological horror film based on the life of gun heiress Sarah Winchester. DC Comics writer-editor Peter J. Tomasi is writing the screenplay. Dana's feature producing credits include "Winter Passing" and "Brother's Shadow."

'Scotsman' flying worldwide via MGM

MGM has acquired worldwide distribution rights to "The Flying Scotsman," the true story of Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, a mentally ill man who broke world records on a bicycle he designed from scrap metal and old washing-machine parts. Sold by London-based sales agent Contentfilm International, "Scotsman" is directed by British TV director Douglas Mackinnon and stars Jonny Lee Miller. MGM plans to release the film Dec. 29 in North America.

Control Room inks concert deal

Digital concert distributor Control Room has signed an agreement with Universal Music Group that will grant access to live programming from all of its artists instead of having to negotiate rights individually for each concert. The first performance to come out of the deal will be a concert Monday on MSN with Geffen Records artist Snoop Dogg. Control Room has deals with companies including MSN, DirecTV, Qualcomm and Mediaflo.

Santa Barbara fest to fete Mirren

The 22nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival will honor Helen Mirren for her work in Miramax Films' "The Queen," in which she plays Queen Elizabeth II. The fest will present Mirren with its Outstanding Performance of the Year Award; she will be recognized at a tribute Jan. 26. The fest runs Jan. 25-Feb. 4.

ABC News ups Avila, Fulginiti

ABC News has promoted correspondent Jim Avila to senior law/justice correspondent for the network while naming Mary Fulginiti as legal correspondent for "Primetime" and "Good Morning America," among other platforms. The network said Avila will lead ABC News' coverage of trials and other legal issues and remain a correspondent for "20/20" and contribute to "Primetime." He covered the Michael Jackson trial for ABC and before joining ABC News in 2004 was national correspondent for "NBC Nightly News." Fulginiti, a lawyer for 15 years, has been an analyst at CNN, MSNBC, Court TV and Fox News.