As Brad Grey takes the helm of historic Paramount Pictures today, there’s at least one person who hasn’t been blowing air kisses his way: KTLA-TV Channel 5 entertainment reporter Zorianna Kit.
“Now, interesting choice in hiring Brad Grey since his film credentials are extremely limited,” Kit reported on Channel 5’s “News at 10" on Jan. 6, the day Grey’s hiring was announced.
“Has anyone seen ‘View From the Top’ with Gwyneth Paltrow?” Kit continued as a clip rolled. “Well, that’s just one of the flops that he produced. And this is the guy who’ll be greenlighting movies? Hmm, good luck, Paramount.”
What Kit did not disclose to the 164,000 households tuning in that night was that her husband, writer-producer Bo Zenga, had lost a bitter lawsuit he had filed against Grey over profit from the hit film “Scary Movie.” Both Zenga and Grey were executive producers of the comedy.
Bob Steele, the senior ethics faculty member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., was critical of Kit’s KTLA report.
“My sense is that it was inappropriate for her to report on him in any way,” said Steele, a former television news reporter, executive producer and news director. “This is a profound conflict of interest.”
Asked Monday why she did not tell viewers of the litigation, Kit declined to comment, saying company policy prohibited her from talking to the media without permission.
KTLA spokeswoman Carolyn Aguayo referred calls to News Director Jeff Wald. He referred questions back to Aguayo, who said late Monday: “We’re not going to comment on what you’re working on.”
Both KTLA and The Times are owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co.
Kit did not limit her skepticism about Grey’s hiring to her broadcast. In early January, according to sources, Kit sent an e-mail to her former colleagues at the Hollywood Reporter, where she once worked as a film reporter, saying the trade publication should have been tougher in assessing Grey’s hiring.
A spokeswoman for the Hollywood Reporter declined to comment. Although Kit did not report on the lawsuit while working at the Hollywood Reporter, her relationship to Zenga was disclosed by the publication in stories on the subject.
A native of Canada, Kit joined KTLA in 2004 from People magazine, where she wrote “The Insider” column. She also appeared regularly on television for the weekend edition of “Access Hollywood.” Her nightly broadcasts for KTLA feature a “scoop of the day” with an ice cream cone in the background.
Other news accounts of Grey’s hiring, including those in The Times, also raised questions about his limited movie experience. Grey has had more success in television, where he is executive producer of the Emmy-winning HBO series “The Sopranos” and was the executive producer of such lucrative hits as “Just Shoot Me.”
Zenga sued Grey and his firm, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, in 2000. Zenga contended that he was recruited to work on the script of “Scary Movie” and then cheated out of profit that Brillstein-Grey allegedly promised in an oral agreement.
Brillstein-Grey called the suit baseless, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge tossed out the case in 2002, saying there was insufficient evidence to support Zenga’s claim.
In November 2003, Zenga lost an appellate ruling in which the court raised questions about his credibility.
Grey declined to comment for this article.