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HDNet “Not Focused on Minute-By-Minute Ratings”

hdnet_5-27.jpgHDNet will be awarded an RFK Memorial Journalism Award tonight at the Newseum for their World Report program, “A Silent War, A Violent Peace,” about Uganda’s civil war. For a network still less than seven-years-old, the award is a big step.

“To tell the story, in all its complexity, requires a
commitment of resources and airtime that very few networks are willing, or able, to give,” says Dennis O’Brien, EP of News and Documentaries for HDNet. “Kira Kay and Jason Maloney risked their lives to do the Uganda story, and to be recognized with an RFK is quite gratifying.”

The report can be seen here.

O’Brien, formerly of ABC News, described how HDNet is able to focus on stories that networks are not able to do.

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Mark Cuban: Dan Rather Reports “Is Kicking A*#”

M Cuban.jpgDan Fleschner, of, interviewed Mark Cuban after Cuban’s appearance on Today this morning. Among the topics: Dan Rather Reports, which airs on Cuban’s HDNet and recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“(The program) is kicking a*#,” Cuban says, adding that “it’s the one news show where we just give him carte blanche…

“He’s just getting back from Cuba, where he was working on getting an interview with Castro. Whether or not it happens, I don’t know. But if that’s what he needs to do to do his best work, then go do it. There’s no corporate interference, there’s no board of directors to deal with, there’s no question about what happens to the stock price. It’s not my call, so I’ve just given him the freedom, and the show’s amazing.

“The response is that it’s the only ‘real’ news show on TV. There’s no entertainment fluff in it.”

Rather’s HDNet Gets Into 2008 Politics

From a TVNewser tipster: “While CBS was serving Dan Rather‘s lawyers with a motion to dismiss, Dan was in Washington doing a press conference announcing that HDNet was carrying the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential forum. Dan at one point was in tears, while talking about America, race, the Vietnam and Iraq wars.”

A First Birthday For Dan Rather Reports

Alissa Krinsky
TVNewser Contributor

DRather.jpgDan Rather says working at HDNet is “about as close to journalistic heaven as I expect to get.”

And tomorrow, it’s officially twelve months of heaven: the first anniversary of HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports, a one-hour, weekly news program. Tuesday’s show, “A Crack In the Ice”, on global warming, takes Rather to Canada’s Northwest Passage and the Arctic ice cap.

Previous Reports have focused on touch-screen voting problems and the controversy over children’s cold medicines, among other topics. “I love what I’m doing now,” Rather says.

It’s a long way from retirement for Rather, who just turned 76. He says that “as long as I have my health, and as long as someone will let me practice journalism of the sort that I want to practice, then I don’t expect to retire. I would much rather wear out than rust out.”

Rather believes he’s “a reporter who got lucky, very lucky” to have a long career, which began in 1953 with a part-time stint at a Huntsville, Texas radio station. He later wrote for the Houston Chronicle and worked at Houston’s KTRK-TV before joining CBS News in 1962.

He calls covering the JFK assassination “the four dark days in Dallas. An absolute sledgehammer to the heart.”

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Mark Cuban: “There is Every Bit of Me That Just Wants to Say ‘Bill O’Reilly Is a Moron’”

Cuban_1109.JPGThe latest episode in the Mark Cuban, Bill O’Reilly war of words aired tonight at the culmination of the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas.

During the keynote address this afternoon, Cuban talked about how he’d like nothing more than to use his blog to fight his critics, including O’Reilly. “Once you start using [a blog] as a baseball bat, things start to get really, really different,” Cuban cautioned the packed conference room at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

O’Reilly has been critical of Cuban over the release of the upcoming movie Redacted. The fictional documentary, as it’s being described, is from Cuban’s company 2929 Entertainment and focuses on what life is like for some American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. “This guy’s never seen the movie,” Cuban says of O’Reilly, “but he’s out there saying ‘Mark Cuban if you release this movie, I’m coming after you.’” Cuban, speaking to about 500 bloggers, told the group “at the same time, there is every bit of me that just wants to say ‘Bill O’Reilly is a moron.’”

Cuban, who also owns the TV network HDNet, says the attacks are “irrelevant” from a business perspective but adds, for “a small movie, he’s making it bigger and bigger by the day. So I’m really grateful to him. Bill O’Reilly’s my new best friend.”

Dan Rather’s ‘Dirty Sexy’ Cameo

Rather_926.jpgAh, TVNewser contributors never sleep. As I checked out ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money tonight, who should appear on the show in a cameo role? Dan Rather. Playing Dan Rather. He attends a party at the Manhattan townhome of the fictional Darling family, hoping to get the scoop on the political ambitions of Billy Baldwin’s Patrick Darling character.

Rather: “So word’s out you’re headed for the Senate, Pat.”

After Baldwin dodges the question, Rather turns to Darling’s wife: “So he is running, isn’t he?”

Will Rather get the story? Will he return in future episodes? Guess I’ll have to tune in next week…

Rather Reports: Touch Screen Troubles?

Tomorrow night, HDNet’s Dan Rather Reports will present “conclusive evidence of the failure of touch screen voting machines across the country,” according to an HDNet press release. “From scientists involved in testing the equipment, to manufacturers in third world countries who shipped these defective voting machines to the United States, [the program] will present new information showing that these defective machines may have altered the outcome of multiple elections.”

That Takes… Courage

CBS needs to keep a closer eye on one of their web sites. In researching Dan Rather before covering him at the taping of his weekly news show on HDNet, our reporter noticed something interesting on the CBS media relations site.

Rather, who parted company with CBS 13 months ago, is still listed as a correspondent on the site. What’s more, the late Ed Bradley is also listed.

When TVNewser asked him about it today, Rather said: “I didn’t know about it… (but) if Ed Bradley is on the list, then I’m glad to be on the list.”rather-cbs.jpg

Word Play: Rather Stays Above The “Tart”

This afternoon, in a taping of his weekly HDNet news show at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan Rather sat down with legendary newsman Ted Koppel. The two talked about the current state and future of news: on TV and online.

rather7-18.jpg During the taping, Rather used a variation of the phrase that caused a clamor last month, saying there continues to be a “dumbing down and sleazing up of news.” In early June, while on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Rather used the phrase “tarting up” in place of “sleazing up.” Many took that as a shot at his successor in the Evening News chair, Katie Couric.

After the taping, Rather told TVNewser, “I’ve used the phrase (tart) for years, through the 1990′s. Some people didn’t like what I had to say. They were looking for a way to attack me. Any reasonable, thinking person understood what I was saying.” When asked if he would use the word again, Rather said: “to tell the truth, I don’t know. I wouldn’t shy away from it…” In fact, in the days after the utterance, it was revealed on CNN that Rather had in fact used the word while talking about TV News.

Today’s taping of Dan Rather Reports will air late next month on HDNet.

Rather’s “Meaty,” But Obscure, News Show

Dan Rather‘s criticism of CBS last week “instantly drew more attention than anything he’s done in seven months on his new HDNet news program,” the AP’s David Bauder notes.

So what has Rather been doing? “‘Dan Rather Reports’ is a meaty news show that has done stories on dangerous chemicals in trailers given to Hurricane Katrina victims, drug cartels that have rendered large swaths of Mexico lawless and civil rights enforcement within the current U.S. Justice Department.”

“It’s a demanding regimen for a 76 year old.” More…