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Fast Track

Reality Checks

Producer Mark Burnett Productions
and distributor FremantleMedia
signed a deal to distribute the format of NBC reality series The Apprentice in international markets.

FremantleMedia also will show off Spoofed to international tire-kickers at the MIP-TV festival in Cannes at the end of the month. Spoofed
is based on Danish show Bluff! and should not be confused with Liar, FremantleMedia's game-show pilot for CBS in which the audience has to figure out which contestant is lying. …

is banking on compelling close calls to help boost its ratings. The network bought five episodes of hour reality series I'm Still Alive from A. Smith & Co.
The show will feature videos of near-death experiences that include a skydiver dangling from a plane while it lands, a rodeo rider attacked by a bull, and an auto racer trapped in a fiery crash. It will then play them again and use animated re-creations to help explain how the survivors made it, and the "impact" (we assume no pun intended) these experiences had on their lives.

Big Three to FCC: Enough Already

The heads of the Big Three network affiliate bodies have urged the FCC
to grant multicasting must-carry rights to broadcasters. "The Commission must rule now that cable systems may not invade broadcasters' digital signals and strip out multicast program services," wrote Deb McDermott
(ABC), Roger Ogden
(NBC), and Bob Lee

News Clips

The General Accounting Office
is investigating video news releases the Bush Administration
sent to TV stations plugging its new Medicare Bill, according to a story in The New York Times. In the releases, produced by the Department of Health & Human Services, actors pose as journalists for the "stories," which explain/plug the new prescription benefit in the plan. As many as 33 stations ran the item.

Stewart Stays Put

Jon Stewart
has reupped with Comedy Central
through 2008, which will take him through another presidential election cycle. Securing a new contract was expected to be high on the priority list of Comedy Central President-To-Be Doug Herzog
when he came aboard in May, but current President Larry Divney
and MTV Networks Group
President Judy McGrath
beat him to the punch. Stewart, who is the channel's highest-profile talent, is host, executive producer, and writer of The Daily Show. "A lot of people like to get out when their show's still going well," he says. "This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground."


Former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani
is the new managing director of the Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ. She will run its Washington lobby, its first full-time presence there in almost a decade. The group has weighed in on communications issues since the 1960s, when it petitioned the FCC to revoke a station's license for racist practices.


Don Hewitt, 60 Minutes
executive producer,
doesn't brag about being one of "Murrow's boys," as we said in a March 15 editorial. Though he admires them, he was not among the handful of World War II correspondents hired by legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow.