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Fast Track

Davidson Back at HBO

HBO vet Steve Davidson is returning to the pay service to be executive VP of affiliate sales. He left HBO in 2002 to co-found sports-consulting firm Sports Media Group, although he remained an HBO consultant. His most recent full-time position at HBO was as senior VP/GM of affiliate operations. Davidson first joined the premium cable service in 1979.

NATAS/ATAS Dull the Hatchet

The clashing groups that run the two sets of Emmy awards are attempting to resolve their differences. That's news because of their historical animosity. But they are not, however, proposing to merge. Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
and New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, working to end friction stretching back three decades, last week ended an arbitration proceeding over a proposed Latin Emmy awards. "This is such a monumental step," said Dick Askin, chairman of ATAS and president of Tribune Entertainment. "We're erasing, hopefully, 30 years of antagonism."

ATAS controls the more glamorous Emmy Awards for national prime time shows, while NATAS controls news, sports and local Emmys. In a shift, NATAS's international division will become a unit of ATAS, and the West Coast group's local Los Angeles chapter will become part of NATAS. Dennis Swanson, chairman of NATAS and head of Viacom's TV-stations group, described the move as "a huge step forward."

Sports Pages

will broadcast the Feb. 15 NASCAR
Daytona 500 in HDTV. It is the network's first high-def sporting event outside of horse racing's Triple Crown and the Olympics. The improbably titled Hershey's Kisses 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Valentine's Day at Daytona will also be shown in HD...

A million and a half EchoStar
subscribers breathed a collective sigh of relief late last week when a federal district court ensured that they will be able to see Super Bowl XXXVIII. In a dispute over carriage contracts for all its programming channels, Viacom
has been threatening to pull its 18 CBS stations offered to some EchoStar customers. Separately, in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable
subscribers will see the Super Bowl in HD, thanks to a recent deal between Comcast and Viacom.

What's the Buzz?

investor Carsey-Werner-Mandabach
is producing the cable net's first scripted series, a buddy comedy titled My Best Friend Is A Great Big Slut, about two young Minnesota women who move to Los Angeles. It's slated for an April debut...

USA Network's Golden Globe-nominated detective show Monk
stormed back for its new season Jan. 16 with 4.6 rating and 6 million viewers, the show's best-ever Nielsen marks. MTV's Newlyweds with singers Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson nabbed a 4.7 million viewers for its second-season premiere Jan. 21... Food Network
in March will debut limited series What America Eats With Parade, based on Parade
magazine's long-running survey of the same name...

NBC's Law & Order franchise and Fox's Malcolm in the Middle and The Simpsons last week claimed the most TV-series writing nominations from the Writers Guild of America. Other episodic drama nominees: NBC's The West Wing and Fox's 24 and The O.C. Among episodic comedies, NBC's departing Frasier and HBO's departing Sex and the City each received a nod. Among comedy/variety series: NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Fox's Mad TV, Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! and HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher. ABC
swept the daytime category with nominations for All My Children and One Life to Live.


Viacom station group has not dropped Sony's syndicated Pyramid
as reported (1/19, page 9) and says it has no plans to jettison the game show.