NEWS: Habib Azar, Rodriguez, SOAPnet, 'ENDERS, Birn

Habib Azar's Armless to premiere at Sundance
Habib Azar directed his first episode of AS THE WORLD TURNS at age 22, and has since directed over 100 episodes of the drama series, winning him a daytime emmy, as well as helming a handfull of plays and composing the music for a couple of operas. His feature directorial debut Armless will premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of the NEXT category, a new section composed of eight American films selected for their innovative and original work in low- and no-budget filmmaking.

OLTL's Nicholas Rodriguez (Nick) wants to run a marathon
"On a personal note, I resolve to start training for my first marathon! This year I ran my first race in Central Park for God's Love We Deliver, and am hooked! The energy of running with complete strangers and pushing each other toward a common goal was exhilarating! I want to push myself even further in 2010!"

SOAPnet up 9% in 2009
The majority of Nielsen-rated cable networks garnered increases over last year, with several networks posting record performances in 2009. Food Network cooked up a record average 1.1 million primetime viewers in 2009 — a 26% increase over 2008 — on the strength of several hit series, including hit reality competition The Next Food Network Star.

Other networks generating double-digit average audience gains include BET (775,000, up 23%); Nick Jr. (661,000, up 46%); Lifetime Movie Network (658,000, up 16%); National Geographic Channel (457,000, up 12%); CMT (399,000, up 11%); SOAPnet (353,000, up 9%); Versus (307,000, up 10%): Disney XD (310,000, up 20%); NickToons (233,000, up 25%); Investigation Discovery (223,000, up 19%); TV One (181,000, up 12%) and Golf Channel (147,000, up 12%).

EASTENDERS wedding draws big ratings
A peak of 12.3 million viewers tuned in to see the marriage of Amira and Syed on EASTENDERS on Friday night.

Fox stations to remain on Time Warner Cable
News Corp. and Time Warner Cable late Friday afternoon announced a deal in principle that will keep the network's signal on in 5.5 million homes that get Fox through the company's owned and operated stations.

Jerry Birn Remembered
“Jerry was a close personal friend of mine and the best man at my parent’s wedding,” said Bradley P. Bell, Executive Producer and Head Writer of THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. “He has been and always will be an important part of our lives, our shows and our family. Jerry had a zest for life and lived his gloriously. A true ad man and writer, Jerry loved everyone and everything at THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, and was very proud to be a beloved member of our shows. Jerry’s quick-wit and vibrant sense of humor will continue to resonate in our hallways, on our stages, and in our hearts. He is already greatly missed.”

Can Google Sell -- and Market -- a Smartphone?
By many accounts, the Google-branded Nexus One smartphone is set to launch early January, although Google has been mum on how, exactly, it will distribute it.

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