news digest


Telemundo wants L.A. ban on TV Azteca

WASHINGTON — In the battle for network supremacy among the Latin audience, NBC-Telemundo took the unusual step Thursday of asking the FCC to deny a license to its chief rival to run KAZA-TV in Los Angeles. In a petition filed at the commission, NBC-Telemundo charged that Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca fails the FCC's "character" test and that it hid its ownership of the Spanish-language station behind a series of sham transactions in order to win the license. Under U.S. law, foreign ownership of broadcast outlets is limited to 25%. NBC is attempting to get the FCC to deny renewing the station's license — usually a routine process.

'Jericho' site offers fans fix during hiatus

CBS has launched an expanded online presence for its new series "Jericho." To tide over fans who will be missing the show during its midseason hiatus, the new Web site has been stocked with new features, including webcasts of episodes with commentary tracks, a "Jericho" wiki encyclopedia and sneak peeks at upcoming episodes. "Jericho" resumes its run Feb. 14.

PS loves 'Babel' cast, director

The 18th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 4-15, will honor the cast of "Babel" with the fest's first-ever Ensemble Performance Award and will recognize the film's director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, with its Director of the Year Award at its annual awards gala Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Cast members Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are expected to attend, along with Inarritu.

Underwood sets up prod'n company

Blair Underwood has launched a production company with actor Tommy Morgan Jr. as his producing partner. The company, Intrepid Inc., has several projects in development, including a special/backdoor pilot at TLC titled "Easy Money," a co-production with GRB Entertainment. The two-hour special will chronicle the lives of a group of social services workers in St. Louis who became multimillionaires overnight after winning a lottery jackpot. Underwood and Morgan will executive produce. Underwood's producing credits include the indies "How Did It Feel?" and "Asunder." He also is attached to produce and star in "My Soul to Keep" for Fox Searchlight.

Programming pact weds Style, Knot

Style Network has inked an extensive programming and marketing agreement with online wedding media company the Knot. The alliance kicks off this month during Style's two-week "White Wedding" stunt featuring nuptial-based programming on the network; interstitials chronicling real-life stories taken from will air throughout, and the Knot's Carley Roney will offer insider tips and commentary for the new series "Married Away." In addition, the special "My Celebrity Wedding by the Knot" will debut in the first quarter, while the Knot will host a special in June highlighting the best in bridal fashion during Style's "21 Day Wedding Party."

Photo agency sues Web site PerezHilton

A flap over the use of celebrity photos on the Internet has hit the courts, with Hollywood celebrity photo agency X17 suing for $7.5 million and alleging illegal use of X17 images. The site is operated

by Mario Lavandeira, who goes by the name Perez Hilton. X17, which operates, alleges that "Lavandeira has regularly infringed on X17's large scoops."