By ED BARK
Dan Rather's long and increasingly lonely $70 million lawsuit against CBS may have hit a final wall Tuesday when it was dismissed by a New York court.
Rather sued his old network in 2007, contending that CBS had breached his contract by eventually dropping him as anchor of the CBS Evening News after he presided over a 2004 60 Minutes II report alleging that George W. Bush had received preferential treatment while serving with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War era.
Documents to that effect could not be fully authenticated, and Rather subsequently apologized on the air for the report. 60 Minutes II later was canceled.
The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, overruling a lower court, said that breach of contract could not be established because CBS continued to pay Rather's $6 million annual salary during his remaining time with the network's news division. He left CBS in June 2006 after being little-used as a correspondent for the longstanding Sunday edition of 60 Minutes.
Rather's attorney, Martin Gold, said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" in the ruling and would appeal it to New York's highest court.
CBS, in its statement, said "the court agreed that this has never been anything more than a contract dispute and that Mr. Rather did not and could not plead that there was any breach of his contract."
Rather also has a fraud suit pending against CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.
"Based upon this unanimous decision by the appellate division, that final remnant will be dismissed as well," CBS said. "This lawsuit is now effectively over."
Technically it isn't, although Rather, 77, would seem to have scant hope of prevailing. Post-CBS, he anchors the weekly Dan Rather Reports for Dallas-based HDNet, which is helmed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
By ED BARK
All hail CW's The Beautiful Life: TBL.
It's the first series casualty of the fall season, gone after just two weeks.
Also taken down is co-star Mischa Barton, onetime hottie of Fox's The O.C.. She played a fading, drug-impaired model on TBL after experiencing a much-publicized meltdown in real life.
Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 30th, CW is supplanting TBL with "encore" episodes of its new version of Melrose Place. That's network-ese for "rerun."
***Profane Dallas food preparer Blythe Beck and her latest episode of Oxygen's The Naughty Chef will feature Dallas Cowboys' defenseman Bradie James and some teammates at his wedding rehearsal dinner.
It takes place at the Central 214 restaurant in the Hotel Palomar. Show time is Tuesday, Sept. 29th at 9 p.m. (central).
By ED BARK
Don the sequined, crushed velvet smoking jacket. Activate girlyman chip. Put manliness in a blind trust.
Two prominent Texas contestants make it more or less mandatory to keep up with them on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which returned for its ninth edition Monday night with former House majority leader Tom DeLay and ex-Cowboys star Michael Irvin in less than fine form.
Irvin suffered the ignominy of DeLay outscoring him -- but just barely. The Hall of Famer totaled just 19 points for his cha cha cha and Vienesse waltz, tying him for the night's lowest score with George Hamilton's son, Ashley.
DeLay managed 20 points for the same two dances, beginning his cha cha cha by wiggling his ass in closeup to the tune of "Wild Thing."
"You are crazier than Sarah Palin," observed judge Bruno Tonioli. Colleague Carrie Ann Inaba termed it "surreal."
Irvin got a much better reception -- from the in-house crowd at least -- for his personality-plus performance to James Brown's "I Feel Good." But the judges all panned him, leaving Irvin with a lowly 13 score to DeLay's 16.
The former "Playmaker" made up some ground on DeLay during the Viennese Waltz "Relay Dance," in which four couples sequentially took the floor in 30-second bursts. Irvin was ranked just the third worst in his group, with DeLay at the bottom.
Former Backstreet Boys member Aaron Carter had the highest score -- 32 -- among the eight men Monday. Urp, the ever-excrutiating Donny Osmond was runnerup with 30 points. The women celebrities dance Tuesday before one of each sex is eliminated Wednesday. Irvin and DeLay likely will survive at least one more week, with Hamilton the probable first dumpee.
***"The Bitch is Back!!" The CW network proclaims in a publicity release.
That would be Heather Locklear, who has signed to reprise her role as scheming Amanda Woodward in CW's ongoing new version of Melrose Place, which premiered earlier this month.
"We couldn't imagine creating and producing this show without the iconic character's inclusion," say the showrunners. Locklear will first appear on the Nov. 17th episode.
***Happy happy, joy joy. Fox has announced a full-season pickup of its critically acclaimed Glee.
"It's already got the making of a cultural phenomenon," says Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly. The next new episode airs on Wednesday, Sept. 23rd at 8 p.m. (central).
By ED BARK
You think Conan O'Brien might be having a little guest envy right now?
Some TV critic types -- guilty as charged -- speculated that the pecking order of The Jay Leno Show and The Tonight Show might end up biting O'Brien in the ass.
Well, it's still early. But based on announced guest lists through Oct. 2nd, it sure looks as though Leno is getting his pick of the celebrity litter while O'Brien subsists on leftovers or in some cases settles for seconds.
Drew Barrymore, scheduled to be Leno's first celebrity car racer on the Friday, Sept. 18th show, will get around to doing the Tonight Show on Monday, Sept. 28th. Michael Moore, who was Leno's guest on Tuesday of this week, is slotted for Tonight on Thursday, Oct. 1st. Brad Paisley will do Leno on Sept. 28th and Conan two nights later.
Here's a look at the Sept. 21 to Oct. 2 guest rosters:
Leno -- Jennifer Garner
O'Brien -- Ricky Gervais and Lynyrd Skynyrd
Advantage: Pretty much a wash. I'd rather see Gervais, but Garner's arguably a bigger name and easier sell.
Leno -- Pee-wee Herman and Amy Poehler
O'Brien -- Rebecca Romijn, Lisa Lampanelli and Monsters of Folk
Leno -- Vince Vaughn, Al Michaels and Bob Costas
O'Brien -- Martin Short, Tim Gunn and Wynonna
Leno -- Rush Limbaugh, Smokey Robinson and Joss Stone
O'Brien -- Calista Flockhart and Joel McHale
Leno -- Hugh Laurie
O'Brien -- Teri Hatcher and Seth MacFarlane
Advantage: -- Too close to call
Leno -- Bill Maher, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow
O'Brien -- Drew Barrymore, Joe Talamo and Paramore
Advantage: Leno, who's already had Barrymore
Leno -- Julia Louis-Dreyfus
O'Brien -- Brad Garrett and Quinn Dahle
Leno -- Steve Carell, Vince Gill and Emmy Lou Harris
O'Brien -- Kate Walsh, Patton Oswalt and Brad Paisley
Advantage: Leno, who's already had Paisley
Leno -- Chris Rock
O'Brien -- Michael Moore
Advantage: Leno, who's already had Moore
Leno -- Jenna Fischer
O'Brien -- John Krasinski
Advantage: It's a draw in battle of love-locked second bananas from The Office.
By ED BARK
John Stossel, an against-the-grain consumer reporter with an avowed libertarian streak, is the latest prominent ABC newsman to jump to Fox.
The 20/20 co-anchor made the move Thursday, and will split his time between the still nearly invisible Fox Business Network and the high-profile Fox News Channel.
Fox says he'll host the weekly Stossel for FBN, beginning sometime later this year. Stossel, 62, also will "make regular daytime and primetime appearances" on FNC and produce specials for the network. His Stossel's Take blog will appear on both foxbusiness.com and foxnews.com.
Stossel, who joined 20/20 in 1981, surprised his bosses with the ratings popularity of a series of contrarian documentaries bearing titles such as You Can't Say That!, Boys and Girls Are Different and Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity. His "Give Me a Break" segments also became a staple of 20/20.
Former ABC News colleagues Brit Hume and Chris Wallace earlier made the move to Fox.
Stossel's old network praised him Thursday as "an important part of the ABC News family for decades . . . He has engaged, and occasionally enraged, our audience with thought-provoking opinions and analysis. John is a unique figure in American journalism and will be an asset to Fox News in this next chapter of his terrific career."
That's the classy way to do it.
***Showtime is extending its L Word franchise by taking the series from the scripted to the reality realm.
The Real L Word: Los Angeles, a nine-episode venture scheduled to premiere next year, will track the lives of "high-profile, left coast lesbians as they go about their daily lives, at work and play," Showtime says.
Ilene Chaiken, executive producer of the original L Word, will retain that title with the spinoff. She'll be assisted by the Magic Elves production company, whose credits include Project Runway, Top Chef and Last Comic Standing.
TV Bulletin Board (Sept. 9) -- new Amazing Race field includes unambiguously gay brother duo, one from Fort Worth
By ED BARK
CBS' The Amazing Race, which launches its 15th edition on Sunday, Sept. 27th, is always looking for new twists in its team partnerships.
It's found one in the McMillen brothers, Sam and Dan. Sam, 23, and pictured above on the right, lists his current hometown as Fort Worth. His younger brother, Dan, 21, resides in Liberty, Missouri. The way CBS publicity materials put it, "Sam and Dan will tell you that their relationship did not truly start until last summer when they both came out and told each other that they were gay . . . After doing so, they have discovered a new bond with one another and have become much closer."
Both are students who grew up "Christian in a conservative community," CBS says on its Amazing Race website. Sam's pursuing a degree in medicine while Dan has one year to go for a business degree.
Although they've lately bonded, the brothers are "very different in everything they do," according to CBS. "Due to his passive mentality, Sam will need to be more vocal to overcome Dan's blunt, assertive personality in order to contribute to the team while on the road."
The new Amazing Race also includes 2004 Miss America Ericka Dunlap, who's teamed with her husband of two years, Brian Kleinschmidt.
***CBS' 32nd annual Kennedy Center Honors telecast won't be until Dec. 29th. But the latest recipients have been named, and here they are:
Robert De Niro
Grace Bumbry (opera singer)
Should be quite a show.
By ED BARK
The runaway success of Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie portends times when cable attractions will regularly push broadcast network shows out of Nielsen's weekly top 20.
Starring Grand Prairie-raised Selena Gomez, the elongated version of the ongoing comedy series drew 11.4 million viewers for Friday's premiere, ranking it just a smidgen behind NBC's America's Got Talent (11.5 million) among last week's most-watched prime-time shows.
But that's not all. Disney Channel's three weekend repeats of Waverly Place the Movie respectively drew 5.8 million, 4.7 million and 4.3 million viewers.
Even the least-watched of the four showings outscored most of corporate big brother ABC's offerings. Only Wipeout (7.7 million), America's Funniest Home Videos (6.4 million), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (5.6 million), Shark Tank (4.9 million) and the premiere of Crash Course (4.8 million) had bigger audiences.
TNT also scored last week with the summer season finale of The Closer, which had 7.4 million viewers nationally. That put it in second place in the cable universe.
Disney Channel's premiere of Waverly Place the Movie and The Closer respectively rank second and 15th among all TV programs for the week of Aug. 24-30. Another cable mainstay, the USA network's Royal Pains, had 5.9 million viewers, good enough for a 24th place tie overall.
HBO, with roughly 25 percent of TV homes paying extra for it, nonetheless had 5.2 million viewers for Sunday night's first showing of True Blood, its most popular drama series since The Sopranos. That put it a heady 32nd among all of the week's attractions. Not bad for a show whose network has one-quarter the reach of its broadcast rivals.
***AMC has made it official by renewing Mad Men for a fourth season. The Emmy-lauded drama currently is three episodes into Season 3, with the pace a bit sluggish so far.
***Add another pair of guest audition judges for Fox's American Idol, bringing the announced total to eight. The latest are Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne, who join Neil Patrick Harris (also the Sept. 20th Emmy Awards host), Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Joe Jonas, Kristen Chenoweth and Shania Twain