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WNED-TV, LeVar Burton suing each other over 'Reading Rainbow' revival

This is what I’m thinking:

Lawyers for WNED-TV and “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton will be reading a lot of legal papers as a result of a disagreement over the business relationship involving the reboot of the popular PBS children’s series.

That’s the word from reporter Dru Sefton of the trade publication Current, which is billed "For People in Public Media."

Sefton reported that Burton’s RRKidz organization and WNED, which owns the rights to the original show that it co-created in 1983 to encourage children to read, are suing each other.

According to Sefton’s story, RRKidz filed suit in February in U.S. District Court in New York and “asked a judge to determine that it had abided by the initial contract and that WNED had no right to terminate the business relationship.”

WNED tried to end the relationship with Burton’s company seven months ago. In a counter-suit filed in March, it is seeking $6.5 million in damages, which is about the amount it contends that Burton’s organization raised in a 2014 Kickstarter campaign for digital versions of the program “without the station’s authorization” or knowledge, according to Sefton’s story.

The story adds that WNED claims that “RRKidz is ‘illicitly and methodically’ attempting to take over ownership of the 'Reading Rainbow' brand.”

Sefton reported that the original agreement gave WNED a revenue cut when it “granted RRKidz licensing rights in 2011 to market and distribute original episodes of the show on digital platforms and to sell merchandise associated with the program.”

Don Boswell, WNED-TV president and chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment. However, a station source confirmed the Current story was accurate.

I suspect we will be reading a lot more about this in the coming months. For the good of the children, let's hope it can be solved amicably.

Inquiring minds want to know: How did the ridiculously long, two-hour NCAA men’s basketball selection show on CBS score locally in the ratings Sunday on Channel 4? It had a 4.4 rating, down about 20 percent from the 5.6 rating the one-hour program had in 2015 on Channel 4.

The rating this year would have expected to have been higher than a year ago considering the University at Buffalo was going to find out who and where it was going to play as it did a year earlier, and local TV draws St. Bonaventure (it didn’t) and Syracuse (it did) were going to discover if they were going to make the field.

I would suspect the leak of the brackets had little to do with the ratings decline since the ratings were pretty steady for the first hour and actually rose from 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. after the leak occurred.

By the way, Syracuse graduate Ian Eagle will be joined by analysts Chris Webber and Len Elmore and sideline reporter Evan Washburn on the UB game with Miami of Florida at 6:50 p.m. Thursday on TNT.

Brian Anderson will do play-by-play alongside analyst Steve Smith on Syracuse’s game with Dayton at 12:15 p.m. Friday on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. Dana Jacobson is the sideline reporter.

St. Bona’s NIT home game with Wagner at 7 tonight will have Syracuse graduate Doug Sherman on play-by-play, with former Marist star Julianne Viani the analyst. It will be available on ESPN 3.

Congratulations to former University at Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon, who  is getting a taste of the NCAA men’s tournament as an assistant at Chattanooga, which plays Indiana Thursday. He is extremely well-liked and his UB firing in 2013 was controversial in some quarters. However, it should be noted that the two coaches who have had the job since, Bobby Hurley and Nate Oats, managed to take the Bulls to the NCAA tournament and that’s something Witherspoon never was able to do in 14 seasons.

Tony Kornheiser of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” gave a shout out to a Buffalo company at the end of Tuesday’s program. “Sweet Works, Buffalo, N.Y. send candy. They make really good chocolate,” said Kornheiser.


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