news digest


Kirshner to run Democrats' show

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Convention Committee has tapped Emmy-winning producer Ricky Kirshner and longtime Democratic Party strategist Mark Squier to serve as executive producers for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Kirshner and Squier are charged with choreographing the overall look and execution of the Aug. 25-28 convention program, including the design, staging, lighting, audio and entertainment. Kirshner has produced every Democratic National Convention since 1996.

More markets on 'Hunt' with WBTV

Warner Bros. said Monday that it has cleared its upcoming Bonnie Hunt-hosted talk show in more than 55% of the country for its fall 2008 launch in syndication. The hourlong strip, titled "The Bonnie Hunt Show," is now cleared in 15 of the top 20 markets. The talk show is produced by Bob & Alice Prods. and ParaMedia in association with Telepictures Prods. Hunt is executive producing with Jim Paratore and Don Lake.

Hackett makes sale with move up at CTD

Stephen Hackett has been upped to senior vp and national sales manager at CBS Television Distribution. Based in Dallas, Hackett was senior vp and Southwest regional sales manager. In his new position, he will continue to manage the Dallas office and expand his duties to include working with CTD's national sales force to syndicate the company's first-run and off-network library in addition to Web-based content and brand extensions to local TV stations.

Film Department beefs up its staff

The Film Department has named Kathleen Courtney executive vp physical production. The indie firm also appointed Dave Gare vp postproduction and Ian Watermeier to director of production and finance. Courtney, who was a freelance associate producer and production manager on films like "Bowfinger," also serves on the board of directors of the Producers Guild of America and is the chair of the PGA's FilmUSA Committee. Gare spent four years as an executive on set for movies like "Prime." Watermeier was production executive on Sean Penn's "Into the Wild."

Blackwell exit shuffles SoapNet

Disney-ABC Television Group is restructuring its daytime unit after a decision by Deborah Blackwell, announced Monday, to step down from her post as GM of SoapNet. Brian Frons, president of daytime at Disney-ABC Television Group, said Monday that he will not replace the position, choosing to manage the day-to-day operations of the channel himself. Blackwell, who will remain at the network as a consultant until her contract expires early next year, said the timing is right to leave the network after more than six years.

'Sex' tops Goldwyn's script nods

"Sex and Sylvia Plath," written by Jennifer O'Kieffe of UCLA, has taken the top prize in the 52nd annual Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards, which were announced Monday at the Westwood campus by Samuel Goldwyn Jr., president of the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation. The awards were founded by Samuel Goldwyn Sr. in 1955 to encourage young writers. As the winner, "Sex" — a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl who loses her virginity to a boy who also is having an affair with her mother — was awarded a $15,000 prize.