Wolff book TV adaptation in the works. Who will play Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, and Ivanka Trump? Variety and the Hollywood Reporter report that Michael Wolff’s book about Donald Trump’s presidency Fire and Fury, is headed for TV. The reports say entertainment company Endeavor Content has bought the rights to the best-selling book and plans to adapt it for a television series. Wolff will executive produce the series, which will be shopped to various networks. No casting or air date has been set but the announcement set off speculation about who would play key figures in the White House. — Glenn Dyer

Vale Steven Alward. Loved and respected public broadcaster Steven Alward has died just weeks before he was due to marry his partner of more than 30 years. Alward had worked at the ABC for more than 25 years as a reporter, producer and editorial manager, including as head of international news, head of policy and staff development, and head of Radio National. Staff at the public broadcaster were informed yesterday by email that Alward had died.

How Newsweek got scooped on Lewinksy story. Michael Isikoff, who was scooped on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal when his bosses at Newsweek got cold feet, has talked about the story to mark the 20th anniversary of the scandal. Isikoff, who now works for Yahoo7, was speaking on a new podcast for the website called Skullduggery about how his bosses pulled the story at the last minute, only to then see the story on The Drudge Report the next day.

“My sources are expecting this is gonna be in Newsweek … and I informed them late that night it wasn’t gonna go, and one of them … goes to Drudge and Drudge pops this little blurb at the top of his website,” he said.

But Isikoff, who’d thoroughly researched the story, had much more detail, so once other news outlets started following it up, Newsweek went down a then-unusual route for a weekly news magazine of publishing a midweek exclusive on its website.

“The idea was we put this on this website nobody’s ever looked at … and got it out that Tuesday night, but to make sure people would read it we faxed the story around to news organisations all around and we were then being quoted by them,” he said.

Ten owner to potentially merge. The Ten Network could be getting new owners, only months after US TV giant CBS took control of Australia’s third commercial network. US media reports say Shari Redstone, the president of National Amusements, which owns controlling interests in CBS and Viacom (around 80% – 85%) is pushing for new directors on the CBS board, as she tries to convince the two companies to merge. The renewed merger push emerged last week but was then denied and it now seems Redstone wants people on the CBS board who will agree with her merger push.

But the issue won’t go way and The Wall Street Journal reports that Redstone approached CBS CEO Leslie Moonves to re-engage in talks to merge with Viacom. Moonves reportedly has not been keen on merging the two companies, which were split in 2005 by Redstone’s father, Sumner Redstone.

US media analysts say that by combining the two companies would have the largest linear TV audience across free to air and cable. That would enable cost cuts and better ad deals and give both more clout in dealing with the challenges from Facebook and Google.

Shares in both companies have woefully underperformed in the past year. While the Dow is up 31% and the S&P 500 more than a quarter, Viacom shares are down 16% and CBS are off 6%. What a merge would mean for Ten is unclear — a bigger more influential owner with more resources, but also one that would also be more demanding? — Glenn Dyer

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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