February 19, 2004

Entertainment News

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Uh-oh Rocco

Rocco DiSpirito, the acclaimed chef of Rocco’s, and the focus for last summer’s reality series “The Restaurant,” is being sued by his financial backers China Grill Management. The company accused Rocco of spending more time on cultivating his celebrity image than on the quality of his restaurant. Investors say they put over $3 million into the restaurant believing that it would be an enormous success due to DiSpirito’s reputation, skill, and commitment. As seen in the first season of the show, the restaurant has been widely criticized and the investors report that the restaurant has lost over $600,000. The suit also accuses DiSpirito of failing to share the profits with investors that he has taken in by television appearances. DiSpirito denied charges, saying that he believed the restaurant was a success because of his dedication and hard work. He commented, “In creating Rocco’s 22nd Street, I unfortunately chose the wrong business partner, I have refrained for months from suing Jeffrey Chodorow (an owner in the group bringing the suit). I look forward to having him held accountable for his actions.” Rocco’s has had some trouble with hostile staff and harsh criticism of the food, and off the show it has been cited for health code violations including “evidence of flies.” The second season of the show has been produced and will air in late spring.

Bid for Mickey

The cable television giant Comcast made a bid for the Walt Disney Company last Wednesday, but so far Disney has rejected the offer. The $66 billion deal would create the world’s largest media conglomeration, surpassing Time Warner. CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts, released a letter to Disney chief Michael Eisner addressing Eisner’s decision to reject the deal, saying that he is left with no choice but to make a public proposal to Disney shareholders and the board — in other words, a bid for a hostile takeover that could mean an end to Eisner’s reign. The merger would be a tax-free stock-for-stock deal, according to the terms set by Comcast. The bid comes at a bad time for Eisner who has been asked to step down by former board members Stanley Gold and Roy Disney because of his sub-par leadership. Brian Roberts hopes that the deal will progress “as friendly and amicable as possible, as fast as possible,” though he says if things don’t go as planned, he is willing to ditch the deal. Comcast itself is valued at just under $49 billion and in addition to owning E! Networks and the Style network, also has major stakes in Comcast-Spectator, is the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers; Comcast SportsNet, Golf Channel, Outdoor Life Network, and G4.

The Simpsons go to Hollywood

After more than 15 years since The Simpsons made their television debut, it appears that they are finally ready to go to the big screen. Maybe. Fox’s feature film animation division says that they are in the very early stages of development for an idea. Veteran Simpsons writers including Matt Groening and executive producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean are rumored to be working on a script. Producer Mike Reiss, while revealing no specific details about the film, promises that it will be bigger, longer and uncut as with the 1999 South Park Movie. Reiss told the website DVDfanatic.com that he could see the film hitting theaters in summer or Christmas of 2006 ,yet he cautions that people should not start reserving their tickets now. According to Reiss, Fox has wanted to do the film for years. The Simpsons hasn’t lost its touch; it has averaged 12.9 million viewers so far this season, and it is Fox’s most watched scripted series.

Archived article by Amanda Hodes