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Deal on Indie Producers' Plan Sought

Washington— Leaders of the House and Senate Commerce Committees are attempting to negotiate a voluntary deal that will ensure that programs created by independent producers can still find their way onto major network lineups.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain announced Thursday that he and Rep. Billy Tauzin, his House counterpart, will host talks between the Big Four broadcast nets and members of the creative community. The aim is to avoid a regulatory solution, such as a 25% prime time carve-out for non–network-owned shows, which independent producers had been seeking from the FCC.

Encouraged by the initiative, Sen. Ron Wyden withdrew an amendment from the Senate Commerce Committee's media-ownership vote Thursday that would have forced a carve-out. John Rintels, head of the Center for the Creative Community, said he is optimistic that lawmaker pressure will persuade the networks to reach a deal.

Gore May Start Cable Net

New York— Former Vice President Al Gore is exploring starting up a liberal-leaning cable network to balance out conservative media outlets, published reports said last week. Gore, who has ruled out a run for president in 2004, is said to be courting financial backers and conferring with Joel Hyatt, the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, and Comcast Corp, reports said. He is also said to be working with a wealthy Chicago couple who are plotting a new radio network.

Tarantino, Stein To 'Run' Trio

New York— Film director Quentin Tarantino and Time
columnist Joel Stein have been tapped for the first two quarterly editions of My Trio, for which famous folks will "program" the cable net for a week. Stein's week, beginning July 20, will feature his "hand-selected" assemblage of five episodes of the old Battle of the Network Stars. Tarantino's week, beginning Oct. 5, isn't as fully planned.