Johnnie L. Roberts

Kill Fee

The O.J. Simpson book debacle seemed like an unmitigated disaster for media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his maverick publisher Judith Regan. In fact, Murdoch's empire had reaped a financial windfall before the embarrassed mogul cancelled pub­lication of the "If I Did It." Newsweek has learned that ABC's Barbara Walters had explored so seriously the idea of doing a Simpson interview to promote the book that when she balked at proceeding, ABC's Entertainment division had to pay Mur­doch's...

How to Count Eyeballs

For 55 years the couch potato has belonged to Nielsen Media Research, the company that meticulously catalogs TV viewing habits for the benefit of advertisers that want to sell suds to the spuds.

Why Prime Time's Now Your Time

The job commute may be a daily headache for most, but it's the favorite part of the day for Verizon Wireless. Why? Evening rush hour--4 to 7 p.m.--is prime time on its V Cast Internet service, when captive audiences in cars, buses and trains dial up a flood of streaming videos to while away the miles.

The Gospel Music Man

This doesn't begin as a family-values story. Max Siegel's father, Bill, a music salesman, was Jewish. His mother, Delores, a beautiful nightclub singer, was African-American.

Meat Loaf It's All Gravy

It's been one helluva stretch for Meat Loaf. In April, the singer, whose two "Bat Out of Hell" rock operas make for one of music's most successful franchises, moved out of his L.A.

Disney's Star Machine

Situated about an hour's drive north of Birmingham along I-65, Hartselle, Ala., is a postcard of small-town America. With a population just under 13,000, the community of mostly young families dotes on kids, outlaws liquor sales and honors its railroad roots with the Depot Days Festival on the last Saturday of each September.

Watching the Watchers

A guy--let's call him Brad--longed for the company of his wife, so he took his iPod to bed. Confiding in an NBC researcher, Brad tells how he inserted his earplugs, nestled down beside his bride and got lost in an episode of "The Office" or another of his favorite TV shows downloaded from the iTunes store.

Hollywood: Hello to 'Hairspray'

Zac Efron is going from basic cable to the big screen. Efron, who plays basketball-star-cum-crooner Troy Bolton in the Disney Channel megahit "High School Musical," tells NEWSWEEK he's landed the role of Link Larkin, the lead character in New Line Cinema's new version of the Broadway musical "Hairspray" (originally a John Waters film).

Edgar and The Indies

The name--Arctic Monkeys--is a dead giveaway. Yes, it's an "indie" band--none of that image-molding, superstar-making machinery of a major music corporation for these four chaps.

A Mogul in Full

At 82, Sumner Redstone, a billionaire eight or nine times over, controls not one, but two giant media companies after splitting apart his Viacom empire in January.

The Future of Evening News

There's an ironic twist to the story of recent Oscar contender "Good Night, and Good Luck." Based on real events, this Hollywood take on CBS News and its iconic journalists during the era of Joseph McCarthy was far more effective at drawing an audience and making money than the real CBS evening newscasts of today.

Murdoch's New Groove

Keith Rupert Murdoch may be 74 years old, but the way he sees it, he's got a young man's fingertips for what's cool. Last year the News Corp. chairman acquired, the wildly popular social-networking site, for $580 million.

Zucker's Busy New Office

NBC typically doesn't rely on an idiot boss to dig itself out of a hole. But as chairman Bob Wright recently noted, these are "desperate" times. So for help NBC turned to "The Office," a ratings-challenged sitcom from a season ago featuring an earnest but impolitic boss (Steve Carell of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin").

Sinking Flagships?

In selecting its co-anchors to succeed Peter Jennings at "World News Tonight," ABC has boldly acknowledged the harsh new realities of television news. The freshest news now comes from the Internet--not the evening broadcast.

News as a Contact Sport

CORRECTION APPENDEDAs usual, top producers of CBS News gathered in New York to plan the evening newscast last Thursday. Harriet Miers had ditched her Supreme Court nomination.

Small TV, Big War

The other networks' reaction to the ABC-iPod deal suggests that television is entering a frenetic period in which the industry's economics are apt to be upended.

Selling Songs for a Song

The music industry is filled with creative types, and many seem to be wearing suits these days. Consider the latest idea from the business suite at Warner Music Group, which is rummaging like the rest of the industry for new sources of revenue: when search engines like Google formally launch their new video-search sites, Warner Music wants a cut of the cash the sites would reap from selling ads next to search results.

A Breakout Act

It was a Saturday night in March 2004, and Martha Stewart's world was crumbling. A week earlier she had been convicted for lying to federal investigators, and her business empire, not to mention her reputation, was in tatters.


Richard Parsons, Time Warner's CEO, exudes warmth. That quality helped stabilize the company after its ill-fated merger with AOL. But at the annual Sun Valley gathering held by investment banker Herbert Allen in July, Parsons got a cool reception from one of his biggest shareholders.

Help Wanted

With both entertainment and news programs in ratings and advertising slumps, NBC has made overtures to at least three top media players in recent weeks, according to executives close to the recruitment efforts.


When--or if--the Discovery blasts off this week, cyberspace will have all the angles covered. AOL--fresh from its highly acclaimed continent-to-continent coverage of the Live 8 concert--will carry feeds from one camera beneath the engines, another attached to the external fuel tank, another with a long-range view of the launch and a fourth parked on a nearby beach.


It was an unusual but fitting code name: "Project Tapas" was launched a year ago by Andy Lack, the new CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, to end a raging war between music companies and peer-to-peer networks like Grokster that let Net surfers pirate music and movies.

'I Have a Vision'

Steveland Morris was signed to Motown Records in 1961 and released his first hit record, "Fingertips," two years later at age 12. In 1965 came Little Stevie Wonder's worldwide hit "Uptight (Everythings Alright)," the first in a years-long string of top 40 smashes.