Barry King/WireImage.com
Mike Bruno
July 10, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Advertisers pull out of Ghetto Mess
Amid criticism that BET’s upcoming series Hot Ghetto Mess promotes racial stereotypes, State Farm Insurance and Home Depot have yanked ads from the premiere episode, which will air at 10:30 p.m. EST on July 25, as well as from a webpage on BET.com touting the program. Hot Ghetto Mess is a compilation of viewer-submitted home videos and BET-produced man-on-the-street segments showing black people said to be exhibiting excessive hip-hop and inner-city culture. Charlie Murphy hosts all six episodes of the series. The Hot Ghetto Mess website has been a lightning rod for criticism since it launched three years ago, featuring hundreds of unflattering photos of mostly black men and women. BET and Jam Donaldson, creator of the website and executive producer of the series, say the projects are presented in a way intended to encourage black America to question its community standards. Critics say Mess simply perpetuates negative black stereotypes. The advertiser pull-out follows a campaign launched by the blog/podcast What About Our Daughters encouraging people to boycott advertisers of the series, listing a number of companies with ads on BET’s website promoting the show. ”This is all a desperate attempt to catch up with their network cousin, VH1, home of Flavor of Love, I Love New York, and Charm School,” the WAOD site states. ”Faced with the frightening possibility that the top-rated shows for blacks were all on another network, BET has attempted to one-up VH1 by racing farther and faster to the bottom.” State Farm and Home Depot released statements acknowledging that they withdrew ads as a result of the boycott threat. (Hollywood Reporter)

Universal developing Barbaro movie
Universal Pictures has optioned a Vanity Fair article about 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and set up the project with Peter Berg to direct and produce through Film 44 with Sarah Aubrey. Buzz Bissinger’s piece, ”Gone Like the Wind,” appears in the August issue of the magazine. It focuses on attempts to come up with a humane way to keep Barbaro alive after the horse shattered its leg during the Preakness. The country rallied around Barbaro, who many felt could win the Triple Crown, but he was euthanized nearly eight months after being injured. Berg is Bissinger’s cousin. He previously co-wrote and directed Friday Night Lights, Universal’s 2004 movie based on the sportswriter’s famed high school gridiron saga, which was later adapted into the NBC series. (Variety)

Kevin Reilly named Fox Entertainment president
News Corp. has named Kevin Reilly, former head of NBC, as its new president of Fox Entertainment and promoted current president Peter Liguori up to Fox Entertainment Chairman. The duo previously worked together at FX where they helped build the network into a basic cable powerhouse developing series like The Shield and Nip/Tuck. Reilly moved to NBC in 2003 and was pushed out about two months ago after the network experienced one of its lowest rated seasons ever, despite critical acclaim for new comedy 30 Rock and new drama Friday Night Lights. (Variety)

Live Earth draws weak TV ratings
NBC’s three-hour primetime coverage of Saturday’s global Live Earth concerts attracted 2.7 million viewers, and a 0.9 rating/3 share in adults 18-49. NBC says it usually draws 3 million viewers on a normal summer Saturday by airing repeats. The special was also less than ABC’s primetime coverage of the Live 8 concert on July 2, 2005, which averaged 2.9 million viewers and a 1.0 rating/5 share in adults 18-49. The Live Earth online broadcasts fared better, with MSN reporting that more than 8 million users streamed 15.4 million videos on MSN live, which was ahead of the 5 million people who watched 2005’s Live 8 concert via AOL. The concert at Wembley Stadium in London, which featured Madonna, the Beastie Boys, and Metallica, was the most-streamed, while the concert at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium, which showcased Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, and the Smashing Pumpkins, had the most page views. (Hollywood Reporter)

Shannen Doherty tapped for ABC Family Christmas special
Shannen Doherty will star in ABC Family special Christmas Caper as a Grinch-like thief who returns to her sleepy suburban hometown and literally tries to steal Christmas. Shooting is scheduled to start this week with the special set to air in late fall as part of ABC Family’s annual 25 Days of Christmas, in which the network airs a different holiday program each night for a month. (Variety)

Dan Patrick leaving ESPN
Dan Patrick is leaving ESPN in August after 18 years at the network. Patrick was a SportsCenter anchor from 1989-2006, and along with co-anchor Keith Olbermann, is credited with helping turn it into TV’s preeminent sports news show. Patrick hasn’t said what he’ll do next, though he says he would like to do TV or radio or both. He was recently contacted by the producers of The Price Is Right as a potential replacement for Bob Barker, but he says he is not interested. ”I didn’t think it was the right time to do something like that but I did appreciate them inquiring,” Patrick said, adding, jokingly, ”I’m holding out for The Wheel of Fortune.” (Hollywood Reporter)

Couric to headline CBS’ 2008 election coverage
CBS News anchor/managing editor Katie Couric will lead the network’s coverage of the upcoming 2008 presidential election. In addition to anchoring the nightly newscast, she will also anchor all special programming, including the Dec. 10 Democratic candidate debate in Los Angeles. (Hollywood Reporter)

Bumbershoot completes its bill
Fergie, John Legend, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, (+)44, and the Apples In Stereo have been confirmed for the 2007 Bumbershoot festival, which will be held Sept. 1-3 in Seattle. They will join the Shins, the Wu-Tang Clan, Crowded House, Panic! At The Disco, Joss Stone, Kings Of Leon, Gym Class Heroes, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Head Automatica, Menomena, Tokyo Police Club, Bert Jansch, Fleet Foxes, Joan As Policewoman, Ryan Shaw, and Bouncing Souls. (Billboard)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Page Six: Alec Baldwin is doing damage control ahead of the release of Shortcut to Happiness, a movie he starred in, produced, and directed in 2001 but thought would never be released. The actor, whose name has been replaced on the credits with the pseudonym ”Harry Kirkpatrick,” is begging fans to steer clear of the film, due out this week.

Rush & Molloy: Fantasia Barrino is in negotiations with the producers of a Broadway musical to be based on the life of Ada (Bricktop) Smith, an African-American expatriate in Paris in the 1920s who became a nightlife queen.

AP via Yahoo!: Jason Priestly and wife Naomi Lowde-Priestley announced that they had a baby girl on July 2, the couple’s first child. They did not reveal their daughter’s name.

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