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Quick Takes

Sawyer increases ratings

Diane Sawyer’s debut last week as the new anchor of “World News” was low-key, but she still managed to lift ratings for the ABC evening newscast during a holiday week.

“World News” averaged 8.56 million viewers during Sawyer’s first week at the desk, 500,000 more than the broadcast’s season-to-date average, according to Nielsen. (Because of the Christmas holiday, the data are based on just three days of ratings.) Sawyer kicked off her tenure on Dec. 21 with an exclusive interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But that boost wasn’t enough to dislodge the top-rated “NBC Nightly News” from its spot. The Brian Williams-anchored newscast drew 9.37 million viewers last week. “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” pulled in 6.16 million.

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-- Matea Gold OCMA delays exhibition again

For the second time, the Orange County Museum of Art has postponed its much-anticipated exhibition “Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, 1967-1985.” Originally scheduled to open in October, the survey of major abstract paintings by the late California artist had been pushed to April after the national economy soured last year.

Now the show has been removed from the museum’s schedule. No date has been announced, although OCMA insists the cancellation is temporary.

According to a museum spokesman, the Diebenkorn exhibition “continues to grow in scope and size and, therefore, we’re reassessing the entire schedule for its presentation here and at the other venues.”

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The “Ocean Park” series is the most widely admired body of paintings by Diebenkorn (1922-93), who first came to prominence in the Bay Area but who worked in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica from the late 1960s to the mid- 1980s.

The April slot that had been planned for Diebenkorn at OCMA will now be filled by two shows drawn from the permanent collection -- one focused on recent acquisitions and the other on contemporary photography.

-- Christopher Knight Journalist group criticizes NBC

The Society of Professional Journalists has condemned NBC News for practicing “checkbook journalism” by chartering a jet that carried a New Jersey man involved in a bitter custody battle and his son home from Brazil.

David Goldman, who successfully fought the Brazilian family of his now-deceased ex-wife for custody of 9-year-old Sean, granted an interview to Meredith Vieira of NBC’s “Today” that aired Monday.

NBC said Goldman was booked for “Today” before the network invited him on the plane. The network had already arranged for the plane to bring its own employees home for Christmas, NBC News spokeswoman Lauren Kapp said. If NBC hadn’t brought the Goldmans home, one of its rivals would have, she said.

“We’ve covered this story exceptionally well,” she said. “Their going on the plane did not affect our coverage of the story or getting them booked at all.”

NBC News told viewers that it had paid for the Goldmans’ trip home, she said.

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The journalists’ group said NBC News jeopardized its integrity with the arrangement.

“Paying for access taints the credibility and neutrality of what you are doing,” said Andy Schotz, chairman of the SPJ ethics committee. “There is now a motive for people to be helping you, to be telling you what you want to hear.”

Most news organizations say they don’t pay for interviews. But critics say the commonly used practice of paying to license photos or video from a subject matter or paying for someone’s travel is a way of getting around the restriction.

At the same time SPJ criticized NBC News for its conduct with the Goldmans, CNN and ABC paid for cellphone pictures taken by Jasper Schuringa, the man who helped subdue an alleged terrorist who tried to take down a Detroit-bound plane. Both also interviewed Schuringa but denied any connection between the payments and interview.

-- associated press No Season 2 for Jeff Dunham

Comedy Central won’t be renewing “The Jeff Dunham Show” for a second season.

The show, featuring comedian Dunham and his repertoire of puppets, attracted plenty of attention, both positive and negative. Its premiere drew 5.3 million viewers, a season premiere record for Comedy Central. But most of the reviews were terrible, and ratings dwindled during the season.

Comedy Central spokesman Steve Albani says the network will continue “to be in business with Jeff in a big way,” including a live tour, stand-up special, DVDs and consumer-products partnership.

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-- associated press


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