Dec 15, 2010

Elvis Mitchell dropped as co-host of Roger Ebert's new show

Elvis Mitchell, host of KCRW's The Treatment, will not co-host the new Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies as was announced in September.The reason remains somewhat of a mystery. Since the pilot was shot, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, there had been "growing concern about whether Mitchell was the right person for the job." A source who saw the show's pilot said that Mitchell and his co-host, Associated Press movie critic Christy Lemire, had "little on-air chemistry." But Ebert shot down that possibility in a Tweet: “Elvis and Christy had great chemistry, as anyone could see who bothered to watch the pilot we posted.” A new co-host will have to be announced soon: The show debuts Jan. 21.

Virginia governor takes another stab at zeroing out pubcasting

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has made good on his promise to slice public broadcasting out of next year's budget. His office announced today highlights of his budget proposal that will be unveiled Dec. 17. McDonnell said that ending support of public broadcasting by the Commonwealth will save $2 million in fiscal 2012 and a full phaseout by the end of FY 2013. His total package of recommendations would save Virginia some $191 million.

McDonnell included pubcasting cuts in budget amendments he submitted to the legislature in the spring; they were rejected. Overall funding for public stations has declined in recent years, dropping from $3.6 million annually during the 2006-08 biennium to $1.9 million in the current two-year budget, reports the Virginian-Pilot.

P.O.V. looking for Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices Project IV, offering up to $100,000 in co-production funding per documentary project, is accepting applications. The fund, a P.O.V. initiative backed by by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, fosters emerging and diverse doc filmmakers with production support and mentoring. Deadline is Jan. 14.

NPR's outsourced blog monitoring going well

NPR's use of an outside blog comment moderation firm has come in handy — particularly in the days after the Juan Williams firing in October, when "we had tens of thousands of comments coming in that week," NPR Senior Strategist Andy Carvin tells the American Journalism Review. ICUC Moderation Services now monitors all blog posts. "NPR was forced to take defensive action after barrages of inflammatory posts by trolls and spammers polluted its discussion boards and threatened to become a persistent problem," as AJR reports. Previously, interns and NPR staffers deleted offensive posts. But the online comments have become so plentiful that they simply couldn't keep up.

The service began on Oct. 12. Just eight days later, Williams was terminated after he said Muslims on airplanes made him nervous (Current, Nov. 1).

Carvin says visitors who feel the need to vent are still free to do so on NPR's 1.4 million-fan Facebook page, where "users are snarky and swear like sailors."

NPR's Linda Wertheimer to move to half-time position

NPR's Senior National Correspondent Linda Wertheimer has decided to move to to half-time status in 2011. She will continue as a substitute host of Morning Edition and other NPR news programs and as an anchor for special events, including Congressional hearings. A memo to stations noted that "Ms. Wertheimer emphasizes she does not expect to spend more time with her family." (Image: NPR)

CPB offers $2 million to 20 markets for mobile DTV

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced today (Dec. 15) $2 million in grants to fund mobile DTV work at stations in 20 markets by the end of 2011. The funding will help stations pay for equipment and installation to broadcast pubTV content to mobile and handheld devices. Public television and commercial broadcasters are all working toward a national mobile video service. The deadline for a second round of grants is June 30, 2011.

Williams to pen book on free speech

Juan Williams, the news analyst who landed a $2 million contract with Fox News after his dismissal from NPR, has signed a two-book deal with Crown Publishing, the New York Times reports. His first book, to be released next summer, will “focus on free speech and the growing difficulty in America of speaking out on sensitive topics.” The second book doesn't have a publication date, but will “examine the changing face of America since the time of the Founding Fathers," as seen by "noteworthy individuals who have helped to expand on and transform our ideas of what it means to be an American.” Terms of the book contract have not been disclosed.