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post #13501 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Hayek Gets Back To Basics

By Ellen Gray Philadelphia Daily News July 18, 2006

Salma Hayek has a cameo in the pilot for the English-language version of a telenovela she's producing for ABC this fall, "Ugly Betty."

Hayek, a fan of the original series, which began in Colombia and became a worldwide sensation, sends up the format in a clip in the show in which she plays a character in a telenovela that's on a TV in one scene.

Noting that she'd begun her career in the Spanish-language soaps in which American networks have only recently become interested, Hayek said the scene, as filmed, had gone on much longer than the clip that made the cut.

"We could release it as a short film," she said.

"It was a lot of fun," she said, sending up her early career and "making fun of myself."

And yes, viewers will probably see more of her on the show, which stars America Ferrera ("Real Women Have Curves") as Betty, a hard-working fashion "don't" struggling to fit in at Vogue-like magazine where everyone else is a fashion "do." (Ana Ortiz, daughter of former Philadelphia City Councilman Angel Ortiz, plays Betty's sister.)

"It was too much fun to miss," Hayek said.

http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/elle...es/003626.html
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post #13502 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Lovely Betty

By Mark McGuire Albany Times Union staff writer

America Ferrera is the most exciting young talent in television. She headlines the soulful ABC comedy Ugly Betty,'' about a plain some would say ugly girl who sets out to conquer the fashion world.

No, Ferrera is not ugly. She just plays a less-than-ravishing beauty on TV.

It's sarcastic. We are not really calling her ugly,'' said executive producer Salma Hayek. (Yes, the actress.) We are making fun of the people'' who would.

The series is based on a Columbian telenovela that has had massive success in the Latino community worldwide. As Betty, Ferrera brings a sense of dignity rarely seen on television.

When I'm in character, I never feel more confident and beautifu,'' Ferrrera said Tuesday.

http://www.bloglines.com/public/TCABlogs
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post #13503 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Start Dates for 'Desperate,' 'Lost'

By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog

PASADENA, Calif. - ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson says that when it returns Sept. 24, Desperate Housewives hopes to recover from a declining second season he said spent too much time setting up its mystery.

In a wide-ranging executive session before writers at the TV Critics Association summer press tour Tuesday, McPherson said changes have been made among the producers with Tom Spezialy leaving and creator Marc Cherry remaining to become sole showrunner. McPherson said he has seen early scripts from the season and the mysteries are stronger from the get go.

The scripts are close to the heart of what it is, which tonally was kind of a wicked comedy.

Whatever its second season lapses, though, McPherson said something is wrong when the winner of the best comedy category isn't even nominated for the Emmys its second season. That was also the case for Lost, which won the best drama its first season only to be fail to be nominated for its second.

Of that ongoing mystery, Lost will become more streamlined when it returns Oct. 13, McPherson said, with six episodes running consecutively before it is interrupted by the 13-week run of Day Break Nov. 15. The remaining 13 Lost episodes will resume in February.

McPherson said the departure of J.J. Abrams from ABC's Touchstone Pictures to a Warner Bros. in a lucrative six year TV deal signed late last week won't affect his work on ABC this season, when Abrams will work full time on three shows. In addition to Lost, they include the new Six Degrees, starting Sept. 21 and the returning What About Brian, which begins a new season Oct. 9.

The other choice was to run 22 consecutive episodes straight in the spring, he said of Lost, but it seemed like it would be too long to be off the air.

On other topics raised in the morning press conference, McPherson took issue with the assertion made Saturday at the press tour by CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler that with the move of Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays, the No. 1 drama CSI was a now somehow an underdog.

They are the champion without question, McPherson said of CSI. We are coming in as a contender and hope to do well.

He said it was important to move Grey's, which begins its new season Sept. 21, to help bolster other nights of programming after it became a hit on Sunday nights.

McPherson said it was a tough call to cancel Invasion while keeping What About Brian, which hadn't been doing as well in the ratings.

On other topics, McPherson said if he had to do it over, he would have handled Commander in Chief differently. The Presidential drama from Rod Lurie starring Geena Davis started last season as the most popular new show only to be canceled with low ratings by the end. Three different show-runners, long hiatuses and switching time slots were among the reasons.

We'd definitely do it differently, McPherson said. We'd probably bring it on later in the season and let Rod prepare for it longer than he had a chance to do.

Lurie was dismissed early in the season because of late scripts.

McPherson said he wasn't thrown by being the first ABC executive in generations to have to program Monday nights in the fall, following the departure of Monday Night Football from ABC to ESPN after a 26-year run. It was always a challenge to program that night when it came to January.Now, he'll be able to build Mondays with more year-round ideas, starting with new seasons for Wife Swap, starting Sept. 18, and The Bachelor: Rome Oct. 2 leading into What About Brian.

No celebrity roster has been announced as yet for Dancing with the Stars, which begins its first fall season Sept. 12 with its results show following the next night.

http://www.bloglines.com/public/TCABlogs
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post #13504 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
ABC's McPherson: Successful Marketing of Serialized Dramas May Help Draw Viewers

A.J. Frutkin and Marc Berman MediaWeek.com July 18, 2006

With a slew of serialized dramas launching network-wide this fall, reporters at the annual TV critics convention in Pasadena want to know why. Today was ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson's chance to answer.

We tried to develop procedurals, close-ended procedurals. And that's a tough assignment right now. There are a lot of good ones on, McPherson said, referring both to the Law & Order and CSI franchises. We did some in development, and they were not as good as the other choices we had. So it really came down to what is the best material."

McPherson went on to say that the serialized dramas do present challenges, adding they're wonderful in the appointment-nature of them, and they're difficult in terms of the repeat schedule.

Several reporters noted that whereas close-ended dramas can draw viewers in at any time during the season, serialized dramas are more difficult to enter mid-way through the season. McPherson said he hopes successful marketing of those shows can change viewer perceptions of the format. The network must convince viewers they can join the experience along the way, he said. And I think we have to do that on a weekly basis, so they understand, this isn't something that if you don't come to the party when it starts, you can't just come in.

Other journalists pointed out the number of serialized dramasincluding ABC's Invasionthat had been cancelled before they were able to wrap up their story lines. The difficult thing about serials is that you have these mysteries set up, and there is a loyal fan base, however small sometimes, that is watching. It would be great to be able to close up all of those mysteries when a show isn't working, McPherson said. I hope that viewers will give the next serialized show a shot. But I think it raises the bar for how good serials have to be, because I think people are only going to make an appointment and a commitment to a certain amount [of shows] on the air.

McPherson did suggest that cancelled shows could get wrapped up on other platforms. We've actually talked about that, he told reporters. The question at this point is given the revenue of all those digital streams, how do you produce a 4 million dollar-an-episode show, and is there a way to finish that story, wrap it up, if you will, in a less expensive but still satisfying way for the viewer.

McPherson also answered CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler's proclamation last week that with Grey's Anatomy moving to Thursdays, CSI was now the underdog. I heard Nina was playing the rope-a-dope, he joked. I think it's kind of funny. CSI and CBS have dominated that night. So they are the champions without question, and we're coming on with a strong contender, and hope to do some business there.

Meanwhile, ABC unveiled the premiere dates for its new fall prime-time lineup, beginning with the season-premiere of veteran 20/20 on Friday, Sept. 8 and running through Wednesday, Nov. 15 with new drama Day Break (in place of Lost, which takes a break for 13 weeks).

http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/rec..._id=1002841052
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post #13505 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
USA Tops Cable Ratings for Fourth Week

By Anthony Crupi MediaWeek.com July 18, 2006

For the fourth consecutive week, USA Network remained at the top of the basic cable heap, thanks to Johnny Depp's turn as a buccaneer modeled on rock icon Keith Richards.

The network averaged 3.55 million total viewers and a 2.9 household rating in prime for the week ending July 16, and scared up the week's single largest audience with its TV premiere of the 2003 Disney theatrical Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl, which drew 7.37 million viewers Saturday night (8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.). Moreover, USA topped all key demos for the week, including adults 18-34 (0.7 million), 18-49 (1.6 million) and 25-54 (1.7 million).

USA also boasted five of the top 10 most-viewed programs last week, with its ever-reliable Monday night WWE: Raw franchise, a new episode of Monk and the second installment of its latest scripted series, Psych. Episode two of Psych delivered 4.71 million total viewers Friday night at 10:00 p.m., down a bit from the 6.1 million viewers who tuned in for the premiere a week earlier.

Rival TNT pulled in second with 2.46 million total viewers and a 2.0 household rating on the strength of its Stephen King horror/suspense anthology Nightmares and Dreamscapes, which averaged 5 million total viewers during its two-part debut Wednesday night (9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.). The first installment, "Battleground," delivered 2.52 million adults 18-49 and 2.88 million adults 25-54, beating out Psych's one-week record for 2006 in both demos.

TNT also saw a big uptick for its original drama series, The Closer, which delivered 6.4 million viewers Monday night, up from 5.3 million the week before, and landing third among all basic cable shows last week. The Turner net also drew 6.17 million total viewers with its Sunday telecast of the NASCAR Nextel Cup race. In its fifth week, TNT's EMT drama Saved rebounded from its recent ratings skid, drawing 3.24 million total viewers following its Closer lead-in Monday night, up from 2.78 million total viewers a week earlier.

ESPN took third place on the week, averaging 1.87 million total viewers and notching a 1.5 HH rating, thanks in part to its presentation of the MLB All-Star Game Home Run Derby, which served up 6.79 million viewers Monday from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., making it the second-ranked program on basic cable. The sports net also drew 3.62 million viewers the night before with its ESPY Awards.

Fox News Channel finished the week at number four, bolstered by Shepard Smith's on-the-scene coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, averaging 1.74 million viewers/1.5 HH. Hallmark Channel came in fifth (1.47 million/1.5 HH).

Non-ad-supported Disney Channel was the nominal second-place finisher in prime, averaging 2.52 million total viewers and a 2.2 household rating, thanks to back-to-back showings of the Paul Giamatti/Amanda Bynes theatrical Big Fat Liar Friday night and its original series The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.

http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/rec..._id=1002841026
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post #13506 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Meet the new "Gilmore Girls" boss

By Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger in the All TV In Hollywood blog

I wrote yesterday that new "Gilmore Girls" showrunner David Rosenthal was pretty tight-lipped about his plans to deal with the season-ending mess (Lorelai leaving Luke and sleeping with Christopher) left behind by departed creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel. But when I caught up to Rosenthal at the CW's party, he was much more open, if not about what he plans to do, then his feelings about the whole twisted saga.
Here's a transcript:

Without spoiling anything major, can you tell me in broad strokes what's going to happen at the start of the season?

"You saw the last episode, so that's going to have far-reaching consequences, not just for Lorelai and for Luke, but for Christopher and everybody... I don't think she just went to Christopher's house -- she wasn't drunk, it wasn't this mad, crazy thing -- she made a decision about where she wanted her life to go, and we're going to explore that. Not to say that Luke isn't in her life and a part of her world, but it still seems like this can't even help create a schism."

You guys spent a lot of this season establishing that Christopher has been growing up.

"I thought so."

And it was always a theme of the show that he would be the perfect guy for Lorelai if he wasn't such a little boy and could mature.

"He did. He grew up last year. He showed a consistent maturity, which is something he's never showed before."

Okay, so logically, it may make sense for her to do this and him to be the right guy. But your fans have invested six years in the other thing, and anyone or anything that gets in the way of that, they are going to hate. How do you deal with that?

"Here's the thing. We've invested six years in this (too). We're the writers, we're fans of the show. We harbor the same feelings, but the question is, just because someone's your soulmate and your ultimate destiny doesn't mean you're going to be with them tomorrow, this week, this month. There's a journey. I'm not sure, if tomorrow everything was perfect with Luke and Lorelai and they were stettled down with no issues or problems, I don't know how interesting dramatically that would be. I feel like Lorelai and Luke will have an opportunity this year to grow a lot and change a lot, and perhaps lead to a situation where they're more ready to be together."

Now, playing devil's advocate, Lorelai getting back with Christopher has been Luke's greatest nightmare since he started dating her.

"You know what they say: you manifest in your life what you most fear."

And knowing the kind of guy that he is, I can't see him easily forgiving her. If or when they get back together, I can't see how they can ever be the same as a couple.

"It's a big question. We spend a lot of time talking about this stuff."

(At this point, Rhina Mimoun, former showrunner on "Everwood" and now one of Rosenthal's lieutenants, chimed in that "Men never forgive. That's why you stink!" After attempting to defend my gender, I continued.)

How passionate were the discussions about all of this last season?

"Amy, you know, kept a lot of it to herself, but as the season went on, we could see that there was something brewing. I don't know. Again, she's been doing the show from day one. We would often discuss ideas, but ultimately Amy would make a decision and we would go with it."

(I bring up David Milch and Aaron Sorkin, two other producers who, like Sherman-Palladino, are known for obsessively writing and rewriting every script of their shows, and who left "NYPD Blue" and "West Wing," respectively, with major threads dangling -- Ricky Schroder's deep secret, President Bartlet stepping down -- that became major problems for their replacements to resolve. After some back and forth about how successfully those scenarios were negotiated, I ask how Rosenthal feels about being left with a similar flaming bag of you-know-what on his doorstep.)

"I just view it as an interesting challenge, dramatically, creatively. It never occurred to me that it was a bad thing. I said, 'Oh, this creates a lot of issues and problems.'"

But did you ever talk with Amy about what she planned to do with this storyline if she hadn't left? Do you know what her plan was?

"No."

(Another writer pipes in that Amy always wrote organically from the characters, so they feel the next steps should be apparent to them. Rosenthal continued.)

"It was never, like (Amy said), 'Oh, we've got to do something big and crazy.' She always worked from character and story, and eventually, problems arise."

But the thing is, there have been entire seasons of this show where almost nothing happened, and the fans were fine with it. I'm sure a lot of them would be perfectly happy if the show was nothing but Lorelai and Rory trading jokes and going shopping. How big a temptation is it to just go that route?

"We're very interested in telling stories. We want every episode to feel like, 'Wow, you've really gone somewhere.' It really feels like you've traveled with these people. We're excited about those stories. It's coming along great. We're very much in synch as a staff. We feel very positive about this season."

Will Luke's daughter still be involved?

"Absolutely."

And Sherilyn Fenn?

"Yes. his relationship with them will continue to grow deeper and more contemplated."

Any chance Luke will respond to what Lorelai did by doing the same thing with April's mom?

"I don't know. But I know that their relationship will grow in significance in his life."

Moving on for a minute, Matt (Czruchy) isn't leaving the show, but Logan's going to be in England. How will that work?

"The first part of the season is (Logan and Rory) trying to deal with a long-distance relationship. Something will come and change that."

It's always struck me that Logan considers going into the family newspaper business as a fate worse than death, and I always wonder why he doesn't realize that all he has to do to escape is to turn down the money.

"I guess so could all of the Murdoch kids."

And it's weird to me that Rory, who knows how much he hates it, has teamed up with (Logan's dad) to put him on this path, like this is the only way he can grow up.

"I think it will make him grow up. He'll do less drinking and partying, and he'll have something to focus on."

But he so clearly, viscerally hates this.

"He's not a big fan of his father. And that's part of his journey this year, exploring what being in the working world means to him."

Okay, so now we come to what's clearly the biggest question going into next season: how much are we going to see of Sebastian Bach?

"He will be appearing occasionally."

Occasionally?

"Occasionally."

Occasionally?

"That's all I can promise."

Oh, alright. You do have, between the regulars and the recurring characters, an enormous cast.

"It's a huge cast, so you can't service everybody every time."

You can go half a season with just one Michel subplot or something.

"It's not for lack of trying. It's just a lot of relationships, a lot of dynamics."

Well, what storylines do you have in mind for the supporting characters?

"Lane and Zach got married, married life is going to bring a lot of challenges and surprises for them. Richard's going to get a job teaching at Yale, an opportunity to fill in kind of thing. Emily's going to do a little tutoring of young debutantes. Paris will spend the summer opening up her own version of the Princeton Review, tutoring students. Everybody's got lots to do."

And Kirk?

"Kirk will be Kirk. I guarantee it."

How were you and the other writers introduced to the idea of April?

"It was something (Amy and Daniel) felt strongly about. They thought it would be a central tenet of the season."

I have to say, I like April as a character, and I don't even mind the whole "Luke has a kid he didn't know about" reveal, but I hate how she was used to drive the wedge in between Luke and Lorelai. By the time Lorelai wound up at Christopher's door, I believed that's where she would go, but I could feel the hand of God painting her into that corner as the season moved along.

"Fair enough."

You said in the press conference that you're not planning this as the final season. Do you have any grand plans for the characters that would take you another two, three years?

"Of course. They live in the world, they have a life, they have relationships, I have no doubt we could do more seasons after this one. That's up to the powers that be."

Getting back to the Milch/Sorkin thing, they had distinctive voices, and when they left their shows, the characters began to speak differently. Can you recreate Amy's voice?

"That'll be up for you guys to decide. I write the way I write. I wrote a couple of episodes last season. I don't know, if you put them on and didn't know who had written them, if you could distinguish. But I'm my own person, so it's entirely possible the voice could change a little. but I'm an enormous fan of that style."

I've seen Milch rewrite every word on every page. Was Amy that heavy-handed in the proccess? How much of what you wrote made it to the screen last year?

"Certainly, by the end, the last episode I wrote was pretty much all mine. With any show, there's a learning curve. But I definitely felt that (episode) was my words. And we just showed the cast the first script for the new season. Lauren and Alexis have been doing this for six years, and they're comfortable with what's in it."

What new characters will we have?

"We haven't cast them, but some new friends of Rory's at Yale and new colleagues of Logan in London."

Will Rory be traveling back and forth, or will it be a lot of them on the phone?

"For starters, yeah. Long distance relationship. Not using the Huntzberger jet. She's at Yale, he's in London."

http://www.nj.com/weblogs/tv/index.s...07.html#162506
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post #13507 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
(When is Enough E N O U G H!?)

Rob and Amber Get Real--Again
by Sarah Hall E!Online Jul 18, 2006

Apparently not satisfied with their already overextended 15 minutes of fame, Rob and Amber Mariano are back for more reality.

The hyper-competitive duo--both Survivor alums--first met when they returned to compete on Survivor: All Stars. Sparks flew and Rob popped the question during the memorable finale, on which Amber was also revealed to be the ultimate Survivor.

The betrothed couple then went on to compete on The Amazing Race, on which they finished second. They followed that up by having their April 2005 nuptials broadcast by CBS for the special Rob and Amber Get Married.

After all that, one would think they'd be sick of living their lives on camera. One would be wrong.

The Marianos have now signed with Fox Reality to star in the network's first original docudrama series, The Rob and Amber Project.

The network has ordered 10 half-hour episodes of the show, which will follow the couple to Las Vegas, where Rob will try to become a professional gambler and Amber will try to support him in the venture.

"We've grown up with Rob and Amber," Fox Reality general manager David Lyle told Daily Variety. "We've seen their first kiss on Survivor and watched their wedding. They're likeable and competitive. What Rob's trying to do now, it's probably every guy's dream and every girl's nightmare."

Yes, and should that nightmare prove to be too much for Amber, the couple's next on-camera project just might be Rob and Amber Get Divorced. (Now that we'd watch.)

The Rob and Amber Project is slated to premiere in January.

http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/Pf...,19528,00.html
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post #13508 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
NBC Signs Spike Lee for Drama Series

By Ben Grossman Broadcasting & Cable 7/18/2006 2

NBC has signed Spike Lee to develop a new drama series for NBC Universal Television Studio.

While details of the project and Lee's exact role are yet to be announced, NBC Entertainment's new Senior VP of drama development Katie O'Connell says the deal makes sense for NBC.

"I wanted to be aggressive about bringing in a high-profile filmmaker who fits in so well with NBC's traditional brand of challenging quality dramas," she says.

Lee recently directed the CBS pilot for the new James Woods drama, Shark. His filmmaking career includes hits such as Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X.

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6354354
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post #13509 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Thursday night fights: 'CSI' vs. 'Grey's'

ABC's decision to move the much-hyped medical drama promises one of the hottest time-slot battles in years
By Chuck Barney Contra Costa Times TV critic Tue, Jul. 18, 2006

PASADENA---The forensic geeks of "CSI" have a message for the oversexed surgical interns of "Grey's Anatomy": If a TV turf war is what you want, bring it.

This fall, one of the hottest time-slot battles in years will be waged at 9 p.m. Thursdays, where ABC has moved its buzz-laden medical drama in to face off against CBS's perennially dominant crime procedural. At stake will be ad dollars and bragging rights on broadcast television's most lucrative night.

And the "CSI" folks, who reign as television's top-ranked scripted show, aren't exactly shaking in their lab coats.

"It's like two really great football teams," says "CSI" executive producer Carol Mendelsohn of the titanic matchup. "You know, the Washington Redskins want to play the Dallas Cowboys. It's exciting."

CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler, who will be on the sidelines rooting for her team, doesn't sound quite as amped up. "We expect to be dinged a little bit by 'Grey's,'" she told reporters at television's summer press tour. She also referred to "CSI" as the "underdog" in the showdown -- although it's difficult to envision a No. 1 show carrying that label.

Tassler is probably just playing coy, but even so, CBS is taking no chances. For the first time in years, the network organized a "CSI" panel for the press tour and the cast turned out in force, save for William Peterson, who was attending a memorial service for a family member. The press conference kicked off with a highlights reel of memorable "CSI" moments, including last season's surprising revelation that Grissom (Peterson) and Sara (Jorja Fox) are romantically linked (more on that later), and ended with the declaration, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Apparently, the "CSI" gang is ready for a ratings rumble.

"ABC moving that show opposite us, I think, was the biggest motivator we could have had," said cast member Marg Helgenberger. "We're all excited about it. Hey, we don't want to relinquish the throne that easily."

"We'll definitely have our game faces on," added George Eads.

"Grey's Anatomy" comes into the matchup with youth and momentum on its side. It is entering its third season and has been building its ratings ever since a highly watched special episode on Super Bowl Sunday. Meanwhile, "CSI" is entering its seventh season, but it has owned the time slot for years and is coming off one of its strongest creative seasons.

The face-off presents an interesting contrast in styles. "Grey's" is a steamy serial soap that emphasizes its characters and has a large female fan base. "CSI" is a procedural that skews toward males and generally tries to avoid the sudsy stuff, despite that juicy little Grissom-and-Sara cliffhanger at the end of last season.

The surprising scene stunned the show's fans, who have been split between excitement and outrage.

"I run into some people who think it's great," says Fox. "But I've also had some bitter fans say, 'What are you doing with him? You should be with Greg (Eric Szmanda)!'"

As for the actress herself, Fox says she's "thrilled" with the story line and jokes that she's prepping for some sex scenes if they come her way. "Billy and I have been working out all summer," she proclaims.

But don't expect "CSI" to get too out of character and get all steamy, a la "Grey's Anatomy."

"We'll deal with the relationship when it's organic to an episode or a scene," says Mendelsohn. "It's not going to be an overt kind of thing. We're not doing a soap opera."

http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/...printstory.jsp
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post #13510 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Updating a story from earlier this month:

The Business of TV
U.S. Digital Television is bankrupt

TV service files with court but continues service

By Brice Wallace Deseret Morning News July 18, 2006

DRAPER U.S. Digital Television's plans to revolutionize delivery of low-cost, wireless, cable-like TV service may be derailed.

USDTV filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy July 6 in Delaware.

Although Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually involves liquidation, published reports indicate that USDTV is still providing service in its four existing markets and that at least two parties are interested in securing its assets and continuing the service.

The company has been providing service to about 16,000 subscribers in Salt Lake City, Dallas, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

USDTV, formed in June 2003, leases portions of the digital spectrum from local television stations. Customers with a set-top box and antenna receive about 30 channels of "off-the-air" wireless digital TV service for $19.95 monthly as a low-cost alternative to cable or satellite TV.

The company was founded by Steve Lindsley, who is USDTV's chief executive officer and former president of KSL Television. In November, Lindsley said he believed the Salt Lake market had 75,000 to 100,000 households that would have some interest in USDTV and that research indicated 15 million to 16 million households in the country would subscribe if it were available in their markets.

The company reportedly had about 5,000 subscribers in Utah.

The effort was backed by $25.75 million from several partners, including Fox Television Stations Inc., Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, LIN TV Corp., Morgan Murphy Stations and Telcom DTV LLC.

Morning News attempts to contact Lindsley through the company for several days were unsuccessful. A telephone message to his bankruptcy law firm, Landis Rath & Cobb LLP of Wilmington, Del., was not returned Monday.

USDTV's Web site said the company is "unable to accept your phone calls or e-mail requests for service at this time." Calls to the customer service phone number prompted a recording and suggestion to call a toll-free number, but calls to that number received a busy signal.

Bankruptcy court documents indicate the company had estimated assets of between $1 million and $10 million and estimated debts of $10 million to $50 million. It lists the company's locations as 12552 S. 125 West, Draper, with a network operations center at 935 W. Bullion St., Murray. It also lists a mailing address in Riverton and offices in Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The documents indicate U.S. Digital Television LLC is 28.28 percent owned by USDTV. Among entities each holding a 12.35 percent ownership are Hearst-Argyle (HATV Investments Inc. and Hearst Broadcasting each have 6.17 percent), LIN Television Corp., McGraw-Hill Ventures Inc., News-USDTV Holdings Inc. and Telcom DTV LC.

A federal bankruptcy court trustee, Alfred Thomas Giuliano of Marlton, N.J., has control of the company. Broadcasting & Cable quoted his attorney, John Carroll, as saying Giuliano is close to securing financing to keep the company's system going in hopes that it can be sold to an investor group. It said one investor group was already negotiating to take over the company's assets and assume some of its debts, while Giuliano later was contacted by a second group.

TVTechnology.com quoted Carroll as saying that an agreement with one of the negotiating parties could be reached before an Aug. 3 creditors meeting in Delaware.

In comments published by Broadcasting & Cable, Lindsley said USDTV was "well on our way to proving our business model" but added that broadcast stations weren't willing to make the financial commitment it would take to expand the system and market it properly.

"We had a very positive sign of consumer demand of this product in a very short period of time," Lindsley said in a TVTechnology.com story.

The bankruptcy filing includes a list of nearly 500 creditors, many from Utah. Creditors include television stations KUEN (KULC), KUPX, Acme Technologies of Utah LLC (KUWB) and KJZZ-TV (LHM Comm Corp.); cable channels Fox News Network LLC, Home & Garden Television and ESPN Inc.; phone service providers AT&T, BellSouth, Sprint, T-Mobile, Qwest and Nextel Communications; FedEx; Wal-Mart; UPS; and Hartford Insurance. Among others with Utah connections are Utah Soccer, doing business as Real Salt Lake; Newspaper Agency Corp. and R.C. Willey Home Furnishings.

http://www.desnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640195539,00.html
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post #13511 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Pretty on the Inside Betty

By Christopher Lisotta at Broadcasting & Cable's Critical Eye blog Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Although the Tuesday afternoon Ugly Betty press tour session started on an off note with the video team accidentally throwing up a clip from ABC News, the producers and cast of the Friday night drama Ugly Betty were not easily thrown off.

The title character Betty, a plain secretary working at a glamorous magazine, is not a victim, said executive producer Salma Hayek.

One critic asked if the title, which starts with such a harsh word, might offend viewers.

Hayek isn't worried, since she sees the title as sarcastic and also subjective.

Society seems to view ugly as anybody who is not super skinny and super tall, she said but as for models, maybe I think that they are ugly and need to eat a little and look healthy.

America Ferrera, who plays Betty, said she wishes she was as strong as the character she plays.

She forgives people for not understanding who she is, Ferrera said. She doesn't resent them.

Moving into entertainment made Ferrera feel like a Betty, she said.

I didn't know I was fat until I started acting, Ferrera quipped.

Another critic asked about the character's prominent braces, which Ferrera said is actually a wonderful contraption (Ferrera has a lovely smile in real life).

It comes out whenever I want to take a trip to craft service, she said.

Which on this show we encourage, Hayek interjected. Go to the craft table, go to the craft table!

http://blogs.tvweek.com/?cat=5
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post #13512 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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The New TV Season
'Studio 60': Golden Child and Whipping Boy

Reaction is already crackling on the Web as bits of NBC's coming Studio 60' series get leaked. It's enough to fray even Aaron Sorkin's nerves.
By Maria Elena Fernandez Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 19, 2006

Reaction is already crackling on the Web as bits of NBC's coming 'Studio 60' series get leaked. It's enough to fray even Aaron Sorkin's nerves. In Hollywood, there used to be a period of time called the "bubble," which described the quiet months between the making of a television pilot and the launching of it as a new series.

That bubble has burst. And no one is feeling the ramifications more than Aaron Sorkin and his new series, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Set designers are still at work building a massive theater inside a sound stage for his drama about a troubled sketch comedy series set in an old vaudeville house. Production on the show begins today. And yet, two months before NBC premieres it, vocal segments of its not-yet-existent audience are divided: Chatter on the Web has declared alternately that "Studio 60" is the fourth-place network's savior and that Sorkin's return to TV is dead on arrival. To Internet bloggers, it is both "the biggest hit of next season" and "an underwhelming disappointment."

For Sorkin, 45, who has been away from television since he left "The West Wing" in 2002, the experience has served as an education in the new, bumpy world of promoting a show.

"It's unusual for backlash to begin before the show starts," said Sorkin, sitting in his office with his longtime producing and directing partner, Thomas Schlamme. "But I'm hoping now that the timing will work out that there will be a backlash against the backlash by the time we open."

"Studio 60" is not alone in such scrutiny. TV is being filtered, analyzed and debated on the Internet like never before, resulting in savvier viewers who feel fully invested in even the smallest of programming decisions. Already there are dedicated fan sites for another upcoming NBC drama, "Heroes," created by viewers who are hailing it as "the next 'Lost.' " In an attempt to keep up, networks and studios are developing new levels of fan interaction using a variety of digital platforms.

"The Internet has created something that didn't exist five or 10 years ago, a direct dialogue with the creators or actors of a show," said "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof. "For fans, they feel they have this access and they are empowered. When we do our podcasts, and we explain what we're doing, they disagree with us and they tell us, 'Well, it's my show too.' "

It would seem to be a network's dream to have people identify so closely with a show, to hear them debating the finer points of a pilot episode around the water cooler. But in the case of "Studio 60," the premature analysis is making an already struggling network's job even harder.

Someone leaked early drafts of the script for the show's pilot to the Web before a single scene had been shot. Casting announcements were disseminated on the Web faster than you can say "Get me Matthew Perry." Things spun further out of the network's control when NBC decided to parade the cast to advertisers at a development session in March, then showed a six-minute trailer to advertisers and reporters at the television preview conferences in May. Those clips hit the blogosphere in nanoseconds, as did a rough cut of the pilot. Reviews popped up immediately.

Even in the age of the Internet, the focus on "Studio 60" seems unusually sharp, undoubtedly because of the involvement of Sorkin, its award-winning creator. "Studio 60" would be just one of dozens of television series launching in the fall if it weren't for the writer whose past is as colorful as the words he puts on paper. A playwright and screenwriter ("A Few Good Men" and "The American President"), Sorkin, a recovering cocaine addict, has stayed away from television since he left "The West Wing" under a cloud of NBC complaints that he was delaying production by routinely turning in scripts late. So intense interest from the media, especially from television critics, was to be expected.

Still, he could not have envisioned that the script he wrote almost entirely in a London hotel while he was performing in a revival of "A Few Good Men" last summer would generate this kind of fury from so many pajama-clad bloggers months before viewers get to even see his new show, which stars Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet and Steven Weber.

"I try not to look at it," Sorkin said, and then half-joked: "It scares me."

But, like it or not, this modern court of public opinion isn't going anywhere. As NBC President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly warns, "We've only just begun on that front."

The early feedback was a virtual love fest. One 35-year-old blogger at craigbe.com declared he was "fully prepared for an embolism to hit" after reading a draft of the script. "It's like 'Entourage' meets 'Larry Sanders' meets 'The West Wing' all wrapped up in 'Sports Night.' Good God, this is going to be amazing," he wrote.

Then came the clip presentation for advertisers and a self-deprecating skit that Sorkin wrote for the actors designed to mock their own heady buzz, and the rumbling began.

The characters seemed as smart and as fast-talking as Sorkin usually draws his players, and Schlamme's 360-degree camerawork, with its famous "walking-and-talking" sequences, were on hand too. But advertisers and reporters didn't know what to make of the trailers: The clips were clunky, not catchy. There was Perry falling out of a chair, a stuffy-seeming rage against reality television and insider-y executive power talks. Was it a comedy or a drama?

Bloggers jumped into the fray: "Every second of 'Studio 60' sounds like Sorkin and looks like Schlamme and thus it's all familiar and reassuring and intelligent and nowhere near as smart-seeming as it was back when 'The West Wing' premiered," wrote Dan Fienberg of Los Angeles on his blog, fienprint.blogspot.com.

Reilly spent a lot of time at the NBC party after the trailer presentation and in the weeks following pleading with ad buyers and the media to wait until they saw the entire pilot. But, he said, "I'd rather see some dialogue, even if it's not all positive, rather than no dialogue."

For his part, Sorkin is learning what a few in the industry already know about Internet fans: They may bark loudly, but there's not that many of them. Yet.

Craig Beilinson, a father of two, is the Sorkin fan who predicted he would be struck with an embolism. "The Internet is causing public opinion to spread faster than ever, but it's not clear that it's having an impact on the viewing habits of the general population yet," he said. "Look at what happened to 'Arrested Development.' No amount of rabid blogging about how it was the greatest comedy on TV could get more people to watch it."

Reilly appreciates the closer relationship with the audience that the Internet affords, figuring it can only help programmers and marketers target them more efficiently. But in the case of "Studio 60," viewers may have gotten a bit too close for comfort, he said.

"One of the dangers of the Internet is any sort of work getting out prematurely or any sort of early judgment before anything is ready to be hatched," Reilly said. "When you have perfectionists like Aaron and Tommy, they want you to see their finished product."

Sorkin seems to be a quick study: "We can't let this affect us because if it does it will only affect it badly. So you have to believe in what you start out doing, believe in what you've got and keep going forward."

The characters of Matthew Albie (Perry) and Danny Tripp (Whitford) are best friends and partners, much like Sorkin and Schlamme, who, in addition to "The West Wing," previously collaborated on "Sports Night." Matthew is the offbeat genius writer and Danny is the brilliant director-producer, but it's Danny's not Matthew's misstep that finds them running a 20-year-old sketch show that is lagging in the ratings.

"The idea of what happens in the pilot is based on the idea of what would happen if once, just once, it was Tommy who screwed up instead of me. Where would that land us?" said Sorkin, who is divorced and shares custody of his 5-year-old daughter, and who no longer talks publicly about his addiction recovery.

In truth, Reilly wasn't dying to launch a series about show business when others set in the industry were failing or succeeding only marginally, but the Sorkin-Schlamme pedigree tempted him. When he read the script, Reilly said, he thought "Studio 60" would be a talent magnet that could help him revive NBC, which with its falling profits continues to be a drag on parent company General Electric. And so, the bidding began. NBC and CBS were neck and neck, both offering big bucks and promising huge promotional launches.

The producers chose NBC because "it felt a little like home, and we felt it's still the place you'd expect to find a show like this," Sorkin said. The show's budget is big: NBC is reportedly spending between $2 million and $3 million on each episode.

And it did indeed lure in the talent, spurring Perry to return to television, Whitford to stay in it and Peet to give it a try. In interviews, most of the cast said they have deliberately avoided reading early reviews of the show because, as Whitford put it, "show business is like dating a schizophrenic: I love you, I ignore you, you're fantastic, you're terrible. I don't need that. I just want to wear makeup and be funny."

But Weber, who plays the chairman of the show's fictional network, NBS, said he has absorbed almost every syllable.

"It's the equivalent of a baby being born and ... everyone is shouting at it, 'Come on, grow already!' " Weber said. "The element of time is the most important thing: time to gather an audience or time to repel an audience, time for people to draw conclusions."

While the pilot clearly takes aim at television's current lowbrow factor, Sorkin promises he is not raging against the medium that pays his bills. The characters of Matt, Danny and Jordan are all driven by the legacy they have inherited, the "medium of Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and it's ours now, and it matters what we do with it," Sorkin said.

The same could be said for Sorkin and Schlamme, who as they begin toiling on their third series together, are surely mindful of the fact that none of those luminaries had to contend with the Internet.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...dlines-entnews
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post #13513 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
ABC chief blasts lack of Emmy nods for popular shows

McPherson finds like lack of nominations for "Lost and other popular shows "remarkable."
By Greg Braxton Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Memo from ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: You blew it.

When he appeared in front of reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn.'s press tour, McPherson blasted the academy for the absence of major nominations for the network's "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," both top winners in last year's ceremony.

"To have that kind of oversight is just remarkable," bristled McPherson, saying he felt that new nomination rules and the creation of blue-ribbon committees that were intended to help open up the categories to oft-overlooked shows in fact ended up hurting those ABC series. (Last year, "Lost" won outstanding drama, while Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" scored outstanding lead actress in a comedy. Three of "Desperate Housewives'." four lead actresses were nominated last year.)

Noting those wins and nominations, McPherson said their omission this year was troubling: "There's a problem." He said he also felt there were a lot of "odd positives and negatives" with the nominations, and he advised the academy to reexamine the rules "and see that the changes weren't all good."

McPherson also took exception to a question from a journalist who said that "Desperate Housewives" had suffered a "creative collapse" following its barn-burning first season. "I completely disagree that there was a creative collapse," he said. "I think that's overstating it."

However, the executive noted that the show's creator, Marc Cherry, was back running the show full time, taking over from Tom Spezialy, who had taken the series in a more soapy direction over the last season. McPherson said that all the new scripts "were going through Marc's typewriter. I think it's going to be great." He added that Cherry was engrossed in crafting story arcs for the next season, and promised that the show would return to a more wickedly humorous sensibility.

Though the network has several solid hits, such as "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy," it is launching 10 new series this fall, which some critics said was unwieldy.

"It is an aggressive schedule," McPherson said. "We're rebuilding, and we've got a lot of work to do . . . . It's not the best scenario."

One key move is splitting up the "Lost" season. To appease viewers who had complained about the numerous repeats during last season, he said, six episodes would air in October; the series would then go on hiatus for 13 weeks until the spring, when it would return with new episodes. He said the strategy was also determined by the show's production schedule.

McPherson chuckled when told of CBS' Entertainment President Nina Tassler's claim that the top-rated "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" would be a Thursday night underdog against the new competition moving into that time slot: ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." He called the statement "a rope-a-dope. They are the champions of that night."

Later, McPherson added: "To me, if you've got a network that's dominating the night and we're coming in and trying to do business on that night, yes, we are trying to come in and do better than we've done. And they've been winning the night."

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...=la-entnews-tv
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post #13514 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
ABC ready for Thursday night fight

By Andrew Wallenstein The Hollywood Reporter July 19, 2006

PASADENA -- ABC is ready to make an impact on Thursday.

That was the word from Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, at the network's kickoff session Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel.

With the hit drama "Grey's Anatomy" getting lead-in support from the new comedies "Big Day" and "Notes From the Underbelly," ABC is looking to get traction on a night that has bedeviled them in recent seasons.


"We definitely think 'Grey's' is a self-starter," McPherson said. "We really believe in these comedies. It's the first time we're really going to go full bore against Thursday nights."

McPherson also got a chuckle out of comments made by his counterpart at CBS, Nina Tassler, that he believes was aimed at managing expectations of how well "CSI" will perform with "Anatomy" in its 9 p.m. time slot, referring to comment she made during CBS' press tour session Saturday that "CSI" was the "underdog" in the looming showdown (HR 7/17).

"I heard Nina was playing the rope-a-dope," McPherson said. "It's kind of funny. 'CSI' and CBS have dominated that night, so I think they are the champions without question. We are coming on with a strong contender and hope to do some business there."

McPherson also expressed some concern for the departure of J.J. Abrams, executive producer of multiple ABC series including "Lost," from Touchstone Television. Last Friday, Abrams struck a new deal for TV production with Warner Bros. Television, as well as a separate film deal with Paramount Pictures.

"It's a shame to lose him from the studio because obviously we have a special connection with (having him) in-house," McPherson said.

But in the short term, Abrams is still working closely with ABC and "Lost," which he will work closer on than last season, when he was off directing "Mission: Impossible III." Abrams is expected to direct select episodes of "Lost" and be in the writing room as well, McPherson said.

Next season, Abrams will be committed to developing for Warner Bros., though sources indicate he has already expressed to Touchstone his dedication to contributing to his current series in the future, which also include dramas "What About Brian" and "Six Degrees."

McPherson also noted that ABC does plenty of business with Warner Bros. Television and could see the network's relationship with Abrams under different auspices. "Peter and I have already talked," McPherson said of Warner Bros. Television president Peter Roth. "We intend to keep in business with him."

McPherson also issued a vote of confidence for "Desperate Housewives," which critics carped suffered from a creative malaise in its second season. The network likes what it sees from early scripts and descriptions of seasonlong story lines coming from creator and executive producer Marc Cherry, who has the reins to himself now that Tom Spezialy has left the show.

"It's all going through Mark's typewriter, which I think is a great thing," said McPherson, who also noted "Housewives" will return to the "wicked" comedic tone it displayed early in its run.

McPherson didn't mince words on the subject of the recent Emmy Awards nominations, which delivered more than a few omissions for both "Housewives" and "Lost," which were big winners at last year's Emmys. He blamed the new nomination process.

"I hope the academy will look at it and realize that maybe the changes aren't all good and that they need to go back to the old system," he said.

McPherson also aired some regrets over the failure of "Commander in Chief," adding that if he could do it over again he would have launched later in the season to avoid overwhelming executive producer Rod Lurie, who was removed from the series because of production delays.

"I think if we had gotten way out ahead, we would have had a much better chance of being able to deliver a show week to week," McPherson said.

In addition, McPherson addressed the ongoing challenge of incorporating digital-media strategies into the network business. He expressed an openness to using alternative platforms to extending or ending a series that can't hack it on the TV network. He offered no specifics but mentioned that "Lost" likely will create supplementary content, though not broadband episodes, to sate viewer appetites when "Lost" takes a midseason break.

McPherson also mentioned that ABC could take a second look at Patricia Heaton, the "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress who had a pilot the network declined to pick up. ABC is in discussions with producers of the pilot about redeveloping the project, which McPherson said "didn't come together."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002841483
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post #13515 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 06:13 PM
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If I were a cableco or satco, I would buy gobs of ad time during these two shows and hawk my DVRs big time.

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post #13516 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
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That would be a great use of advertising dollars, Dave
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post #13517 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Death March With Cocktails

The Laugh Track Man
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle in his TV blog The Bastard Machine Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Everybody hates the laugh track.

At least anectdotally they do. (The truth is, a large portion of the viewing audience doesn't so much rely on laugh tracks as a crutch - telling them when to laugh - as they need it out of habit, like Linus needs his blanket, because they haven't quite been conditioned to live without it. For example, not everything meant to be funny is funny. It's OK not to laugh.)

ABC has a new serial comedy called "Big Day" which doesn't have a laugh track (doesn't need it - take that as you will). But during this most recent development season, a supposedly record amount of "single camera" comedies were shot as pilots (single camera comedies are like "Scrubs" - they have no laugh track). Not all of those shows were picked up, of course, but there has been much discussion here about whether laugh tracks are a curse. This came up during a session for "The Class" on CBS, which had what appeared to be a very enthusiastic laugh track.

Turns out - not. (This is the same problem on HBO's "Lucky Louie," which tapes in front of a live audience. The audience's uproarious laughter, mocked in the YouTube "Deadwood"-as-a-comedy spoof, is real. Annoying, but real.) Apparently "The Class" has the same problem. And producers Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane were on the defensive, humorously, because of early allegations that they were using a particularly "sweetened" laugh track when it's just a very happy live audience. In fact, the duo were so concerned about authenticity, they turned away THE LAUGH TRACK MAN.

Said Klarik: "When we went in to do the show, I swear to God we said, 'We don't want the laugh track man,' because there's this man who comes with this box. And it's - did you know this? - and he's like, 'You want a giggle? You want a chuckle? You want a surprised laugh?' And we said no, please don't bring it in. And so we used what we had and so it hurts my feelings when I read all this stuff about this laugh track. In fact, even when we were doing 'Friends,' we often had to turn down the audience reaction because it sounded like a laugh track."

The Laugh Track Man. We are forming a search and destroy team as you read this.

Of course, for "traditional" multi-camera comedies, NOT having a laugh track isn't a free pass to airing overly enthusiastic laughter (particularly when it makes the audience at home wonder if they're watching the same show). But for his part, Crane said he likes the old-school approach.

"What's wonderful about it is to shoot a show in front of a live audience and it changes the nature of the show and it changes how you perform it and the comedy feels hotter in a way. I mean - love single camera. It's cool. It's remote. But there's something about doing a live show in front of a real audience, and that's what you're hearing. You're hearing real people laughing."

Klarik: "And when we don't get a laugh, we go out into the stage and rewrite the line, and we keep doing it until we get a laugh."

No matter how "The Class" is recieved, you have to give them credit for trying, since it seems mighty easy to just call up The Laugh Track Man and buy a chuckle.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/...dexn?blogid=24
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post #13518 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
The S-word

By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette TV Editor in his blog Tuned In
(Rob Owen is President olf the Television Critics Association)

PASADENA, Calif. -- Some TV critics battered CBS's Nina Tassler with questions about serials, even though CBS is adding just two shows with continuing stories. The same question came up with ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson this morning, but it wasn't quite the same pummeling.

Mostly it was because Tassler took a half-dozen questions to answer the questions directly and McPherson was more up front, but it's still ABC that's filled its schedule with a glut of serials.

And now the producers are trying to claim their serials are not serials, the new, dreaded "S-word." Unbelievable. Read more in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.



CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler attempted to portray "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" as the underdog in its fight with ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" at 9 p.m. Thursday this fall, but ABC's Stephen McPherson was having none of it.

"I heard Nina was playing the rope-a-dope," he said. " 'CSI' and CBS have dominated that night, so I think they are the champions without question. We're coming on with a strong contended and hope to do some business there."

McPherson said ABC executives started thinking about moving "Grey's" in late 2005, scheduling it after the Super Bowl to help build its audience further, preparing it for a move.

"We knew it needed to be incredibly strong and be a self-starter on its own, outside of [the 10 p.m. Sunday] time period," he said. "It was a decision that was based on a year of thought."



Forgetful Showtime: At its press tour session last week, Showtime handed out a 60-page booklet that celebrates the network's 30 years. It included pictures from dozens of Showtime series and movies, but it omitted the network's best series, "Beggars & Choosers." Boo! Hiss!



Green party: The CW's Jolly Rancher green signage brightened the backyard of the Ritz-Carlton last night as critics mingled with the new network's stars.

As parties go, it was better than a traditional UPN party, but not as good as some WB parties of old. Star turnout was a bit meager, but CBS Corp. honcho Leslie Moonves was there with wife Julie Chen ("The Early Show," "Big Brother").

The new network's "Free to be" slogan was everywhere ("Free to be funny," "Free to be cool," "Free to be family," "Free to be fearless," "Free to be fabulous"), and pages were making T-shirts for TV critics with the slogans "Free to be critical," "Free to be cynical," "Free to be terse" and "Free to be quotable."

I skipped Sunday night's "Rock Star: Supernova" party, but heard from some people it was a good time. Tonight's a dinner with ABC's publicity staff, not a party, and the ABC party happens tomorrow night.

http://www.post-gazette.com/tv/tunedin/
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Washington Notebook
Senators vow telecom battle

By Brooks Boliek The Hollywood ReporterJuly 19, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A pair of influential senators threw down the legislative gauntlet Tuesday as they threatened a floor fight over a telecommunications bill designed to make it easier for the big telephone companies to enter local cable markets.

Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., warned other lawmakers that they were prepared to fight the legislation because it failed to include "network neutrality" language.

The fight over network neutrality -- rules that prohibit the phone and cable companies from using their control of their networks from disadvantaging the people and companies who use them -- has become a hot issue in Congress.

Attempts by the senators to get the language included in the bill failed on an 11-11 vote by the Senate Commerce Committee on June 28.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002841481
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
Ted Danson's Rug

By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog

There has been a lot of talk about hair at press tour, but none more than about the hair of Ted Danson.

Oddly, my hair became a topic of conversation in the beginning of Cheers,'" the actor said at press tour.

And I used to color my hair, he says.

I had a bald spot about this big when I started Cheers,' and I'd surreptitiously put my little brown thing on it and comb my hair over it, he says.

Then the tabloids said that I'm wearing a huge hairpiece. And I couldn't go, No, no, I just color it in.'

They were wrong about the rug but only by a few years.

About five years later, I indeed did have to wear a little divot hairpiece for Sam Malone, Danson says. So I put that in, and then one of the tabloids airbrushed my entire head and said that I'm one of the people who is totally bald.

And I, once again, couldn't say, No, no, I just wear this little . . '

So I'm out of the closet, he said.

For his role as a therapist in the fall sitcom Help Me Help You, he'll go natural, with white hair and a bald spot.

It's very nice not to sit around with a bunch of ladies with silver things in my hair getting dye jobs," Danson says. "So I'm happy to be gray.

(Help Me Help You begins on ABC Sept. 26).

That may have been the most newsworthy statement regarding hair at press tour so far. But it wasn't the only one.

George Eads' character on CSI went through some changes this season as well.

I didn't use scissors for a while, got some complaints, he said. And I kind of found it kind of humorous.

And then I remember I needed some help from a service professional, and a police officer helped me out with his big, hairy, awesome-looking mustache, so I thought I'd grow that. And that kept me at home for a few days.

(Laughter.)

Changing a hairstyle can be dangerous, and Eads said I think I'm going to not mess around with it as much. I've really realized how much the fans get perturbed by it.

Earlier, someone asked Leslie Hope, who starred as Jack Bauer's wife in the first season of 24 and returns in the drama Runaway for The CW this fall, what he said was kind of a silly question:

It was about how the short-haired actress felt about wearing a long-hair wig in the show's flashbacks.

After a moment, she replied: It is kind of a silly question, I think.

http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catli..._rug.html#more
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
T C A Notebook

USA Today TV reporters Gary Levin and Ann Oldenburg and USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco are in Pasadena, Calif., covering the annual Television Critics Association press tour.

They'll be filing periodic updates throughout the week.

'Betty:' Beautiful on the inside?

If anyone takes offense at the title of this fall's ABC series Ugly Betty, Salma Hayek hopes they'll reconsider: The label is "sarcastic," explains Hayek, a producer of the show; it's adapted from Colombian "telenovela" Betty La Fea that's been a huge success in other countries. "Anybody that's not super-skinny and really tall, some people think ... they're ugly," she says. "I've personally seen some really tall, skinny models that I think maybe are ugly."

Though outfitted in braces and unfashionable garb, Betty (America Ferrara) is the show's heroine and moral center as an assistant at a fashion magazine filled with venomous rivals, including an editor played by Vanessa Williams. "There's a little bit of Betty in all of us," says executive producer Silvio Horta. "No matter what you look like, what you weigh, everyone feels in a way the outsider." Gary Levin

We'll drink to that: Danson bellies up to the bar

Ted Danson is stepping up to the TV bar again.

A certified TV star who followed his long run as Sam the bartender in the classic Cheers with a successful stint as a grumpy doctor in Becker, Danson returns this fall in the ABC sitcom Help Me Help You. He plays a renowned therapist whose own life is in shambles. For Danson, it's the best combination of his two most famous TV roles. "I get to be the bartender/group therapist. Then I get to be the total idiot at the same time."

Unlike Becker, though, Dr. Bill is an idiot you're supposed to like and that suits Danson fine. "I like playing someone who desperately want the world to like him. It's closer to home."

Still, in some ways, Help Me is a stretch for Danson. It's his first time starring in a one-camera, filmed sitcom (though he did do a guest stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm). And it's the first time one of his own shows has allowed him to use his real hair, which is all-gray and thinning. He wore a hairpiece through much of Cheers and dyed his hair for Becker. "I'm out of the closet. I'm tired of sitting around with a bunch of ladies with aluminum in my head getting a dye job."

One thing, however, remains the same. At 58, Danson remains a master of comic self-absorption.

"I think being shallow is ageless." Robert Bianco

'Lost' details found

In May, ABC announced that Lost would ditch most of its low-rated repeats next season, running a small batch in fall and then going on a late-fall hiatus.

But until Tuesday, it was unclear just how long a breather it would take: Lost will premiere Oct. 4, air six or seven new episodes, and then get lost for 13 weeks, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson told TV critics at their semiannual gathering.

In November, Day Break, a drama starring Taye Diggs, will takes Lost's Wednesday night slot. Lost then comes back with 16 consecutive new installments from February through May.

The move mimics Fox's game plan for 24, and reflects the fact that both heavily serialized shows lose momentum and hemorrhage viewers when they air repeats.

Producer J.J. Abrams, who just signed a lucrative new deal with Warner Bros., will nonetheless take a more active role on Lost and his other ABC shows this season and plans to direct a few Lost episodes, McPherson says. (Abrams was busy directing Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible 3 last year.)

Despite its successes with Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, ABC finished third last season, and McPherson remains in a "rebuilding" mode. That explains why the network is adding 10 new shows by November, which poses a marketing challenge. "We know it's an aggressive schedule," he says, but "we've got a lot of work to do. There's risk in it, no question. I wish I had seven nights of programming I didn't have to change."

McPherson concedes that Housewives "stumbled" early last season. He says with the departure of executive producer Tom Spezialy, Housewives creator Marc Cherry will become more heavily involved and that based on early scripts, "the story line, the mystery is a lot stronger from the get-go." Gary Levin

Serialized series heat up

Many of ABC's new shows are serialized, a big trend this fall patterned after viewers were hooked by 24 and Lost.

Included are dramas Six Degrees, Brothers & Sisters and The Nine, and comedies The Knights of Prosperity (about a plot to rob Mick Jagger) and Big Day (an entire season that revolves around a couple's wedding day). McPherson says the shows just happened to be the best among the pilots, but that if they succeed, such "appointment television" can help keep viewers loyal as digital video recorder usage grows.

"You have to have shows people need to watch at a particular time" or risking missing water-cooler conversation, McPherson says.

Of course, if they fail, viewers are left holding the bag, as the few loyal fans of Invasion were last spring. The plot was left unresolved because the decision to cancel the show was made only in May, once all the season's episodes had been completed. Gary Levin

Cookin' with Kimmel

"Who's ready for a burger?" asks ABC late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Standing in the hot sun of a terrace overlooking the pool at the Ritz-Carlton, Kimmel grills burgers made from his own recipe teriyaki, onion flakes, onion powder and garlic power for Monday's lunch at the Television Critics Association conference.

"I sweated on each one," he says as he wipes his face with a white cloth and personally serves the press for about a half hour. Kimmel, who loves to cook, has a pizza oven and several grills on his back patio.

Kimmel soon finds out that new CBS talk show host Rachael Ray had given the hotel her recipe for mini-burgers, which were served Sunday. Critics compare the two, of course. But it comes down to personal taste.

Inside the cool dining room, Kimmel introduces members of the Jimmy Kimmel Live family helping him cook: Uncle Frank serves slaw, his childhood best friend Cleto the bandleader dishes up baked beans, Cousin Sal handles french fries and corn, and parking lot security guard Guillermo helps with condiments and salad.

Kimmel tells his lunch guests, "I've never been more dehydrated." But he's very proud of his burgers. "This is not like Paul Newman and his stupid popcorn. This is my recipe."

After he gives away his secret ingredients, he jokes, "On behalf of Rachael Ray and everyone at the Food Network, thanks for coming." Ann Oldenburg

'Gilmore' goings-on

Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham has heard all the fan complaints from last season, from Luke's secret love child to Lorelai's uncharacteristically wussy reaction, to her season-closing bed scene with Christopher. She's even agrees with some of them. "It wasn't my favorite stuff to play, to kind of be dictated to by Luke. But it was a believable conflict to me and a believable obstacle, so the end to me made perfect sense."

To be fair, Graham wasn't in a position to do anything about her complaints. Now-departed creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was famous for running the show the way she wanted and she wanted to delay the marriage of Luke and Lorelai. Besides, Graham says, "If everything went the way the fans wanted it to go, the show would either be over or I'd just be calling Rory saying 'Well, what are you doing tonight?' "

Clearly, though, changes are coming that go beyond the behind-the-scenes change that replaced Sherman-Palladino with new producer David Rosenthal. On screen, Rory will have a new circle of friends, and Christopher will play a bigger role. But Lorelai will still have her pet, Paul Anka, despite Graham's desire to dump the dog. "I just am not a fan of dog comedy." Robert Bianco

'Veronica Mars' shortens attention span

Speaking of complaints, Veronica Mars producer Rob Thomas is aware that fans thought his show was too convoluted and confusing last year. "Honestly, I think that was a problem with season two. It's something that we plan to correct in season three." How? Look for shorter story-arcs, fewer suspects and one less suitor for Veronica. Teddy Dunn's Duncan is off the show.Robert Bianco

More cast members to hate 'Chris'

Changes on CW's comedy lineup, migrating from UPN with new episodes starting Oct. 1: Everybody Hates Chris will meet more uncles and other hangers-on, to broaden the show beyond school bullies and Chris' immediate family.

"We're going to be in the neighborhood a lot more," says inspiration and co-creator Chris Rock, while Chris runs for class president. "We'll still be in the school, but he can't be called n- every week." Whoopi Goldberg turns up as neighbor in two episodes, starting Oct. 8.

Over on Girlfriends, Jill Marie Jones, who plays gal-pal Toni, is leaving the cast, forcing Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross) to cope with losing her best friend.

And All of Us producer Jada Pinkett-Smith explains to critics the decision to write out the character based on her and her marriage to actor Will Smith, focusing instead on Robert's ex-wife Neesee. "The paradigm that Will and I had in real life was a little difficult for people to relate to," she said.

To which Rock replied, "Hey, Bruce Willis loved the show." Gary Levin

CW era dawns Sept. 20

The new CW network is ushered in Sept. 20 with the season premiere of America's Next Top Model, the soon-to-be-former UPN's biggest hit. New and returning series will surface the week of Sept. 25, except Veronica Mars, which returns Oct. 3, CW president Dawn Ostroff announced Monday. WB ends its 10-year run Sept. 17 with a marathon of key series pilots, and UPN will sign off in many cities earlier in September.

Haylie Duff will become a series regular on CW's resurrected 7th Heaven this fall, as her character, Sandy Jameson, joins a religious seminary. Most of the cast is signed to return, save for Camden kids Mackenzie Rosman (Ruthie) and David Gallagher (Simon), who might appear occasionally. Gary Levin

More on CSI

Though CSI seasons change, one thing never varies: Put the actors in front of the press, and inevitably, some ungracious comment about one of the other CSI shows will arise. This time it came from Gary Dourdan, who was discussing how well his cast gets along.

"We're very fortunate in that we're all kind of compatible," says Dourdan. "There's no divas on the set. ... I've been on shows, other shows, that it hasn't been this way. Marg and I went on the (CSI Miami show for a minute, and it wasn't that way. And I'm not going to say anything bad about Miami now, but when we went there, they didn't have that vibration that we have."

Producer Carol Mendelsohn says viewer reaction to the season-ending revelation of a Sara/Grissom romance was better than she expected. She says she had heard fans were spilt 60/40 for, but the mail she's received has been overwhelmingly favorable.

"I don't know whether it was just that my assistant put all the 'pro' letters on my desk. But I read letters from students at Harvard, science teachers, viewers from Italy. And across the board, the fans wrote it was such a pleasure to see two adults, two professionals who are so good at their jobs, have found each other and are now engaged in an intimate and mature relationship that's not salacious."

It is, however, secret at least for now. Mendelsohn says for the time being, viewers will know about the romance but the couple's co-workers will not. "In this one instance, the viewers will be ahead of our "CSI's."

These days, Mendelsohn also has to make sure the show doesn't run afoul of an FCC that fined a similar CBS procedural, Without a Trace, for a scene depicting a teen orgy. "As an individual I can just state here that I hate to see television programming censored by a few individuals. ... Even if a thousand individuals or 10,000 individuals say that something offends them, suddenly you can't address certain issues on television. On a bad week we have 25 million-plus viewers. On a good week we've had as many as 30, 31 million viewers and even more." Robert Bianco

'CSI' an underdog?

Don't count CBS' CSI out in its fall time-slot battle with ABC's Grey's Anatomy not that anyone really would.

Even though CSI has never had any trouble defeating all comers in its Thursday slot, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler labels her show the "underdog" as Grey's moves to Thursdays at 9 come September. And the actors and producers of CSI, TV's most-popular scripted show, have embraced their network-invented role, lowering expectations while striking that we-don't-get-no-respect pose so popular with professional athletes.

"CSI has always been underestimated from Day 1 by everyone but the fans," says star Marg Helgenberger. "Our network has underestimated us. The critics have underestimated us. But the fans have not. ... With all due respect to Grey's Anatomy, ABC moving that show opposite us, I think, was the biggest motivator we could have had. We're all excited about it. I think it's given us like, 'Hey, we don't want to relinquish the throne that easily.' "

Still, just to be safe, CSI has a few circus tricks up its sleeve. The show will return with a two-part special that takes place behind the scenes at the Cirque du Soleil Vegas show Ka. The episode, says Helgenberger, will find Catherine and her family in jeopardy when someone slips something into Catherine's drink. Robert Bianco

Drinking with Tommy Lee

The music in Tommy Lee's dressing room at CBS is so loud that it's impossible to say anything when he offers a shot of Jagermeister liqueur.

Lee and a small gang raise little paper cups Sunday night in a toast to having just taped Tuesday's episode of Rock Star: Supernova. But that was just the beginning of the Rock Star: Supernova partying Sunday night.

Later, a jam session rocked till after midnight at the mansion being used to film the second season of the reality show, which is in search of a lead singer for a band made up of Lee (formerly of Motley Crue), bassist Jason Newsted (Metallica) and guitarist Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses).

The band guys and contestants stepped up to microphones in the main room of the house and sang, played bongos, piano, guitar or tambourine, all doing cover songs (no originals allowed). Lee even drummed on the floor at times, since there was no drum set. And at one point, Lee and Phil Ritchie, a contestant from Ocean City, Md., got up and poured drinks on each other while dancing.

Rock Star didn't start off with a bang, but last week's Tuesday show added almost 1 million viewers 5.3 million to 6.2 million from Week 1 to 2. The party was a way to drum up interest in the show among TV writers.

"All I can do is be myself," says Lukas Rossi of Toronto. "I know I am the man for the job." He is thought to be a front-runner but faces stiff competition from Houston's Dilana Robichaux. Both have multicolor hair and numerous piercings.

"What I'd really like to achieve with this entire thing is obviously to win," she says, "but (also) to unleash the freaks out there, to show that even if you do look a little freaky or different doesn't mean you need to be judged or live a freaky lifestyle."

The party gave reporters a chance to take part in the scene and help drum up interest in the show. Ann Oldenburg

http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006
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post #13522 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notebook
Coming in January, a Morning Show for Fox

By Jacques Steinberg The New York Times July 19, 2006

With Katie Couric and Charles Gibson departing morning television, Roger Ailes has decided to dip a toe in. Beginning in January, the 35 stations owned and operated by Fox Television Stations group, overseen by Mr. Ailes since last year, will begin broadcasting a live, one-hour morning show, to be seen beginning at 9 in most cities, Fox announced yesterday.

The show will generally forgo hard news for segments on entertainment and lifestyle, but it will undoubtedly have some of the feel of the Fox News Channel, which is producing the show with Twentieth Television. (Mr. Ailes created and continues to oversee the Fox News Channel.) The two main hosts of the new show, Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, are hosts of Fox News's DaySide, which they are to leave in the fall.

The announcement of the morning show represents the first major initiative by the Fox Television Stations group since Mr. Ailes became its chairman a year ago. But also noteworthy is the time slot in which Fox's new show will appear.

At least for now, Fox has chosen not to compete with the three main network morning shows Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show or with Fox & Friends on Fox News on cable between 7 and 9 a.m., when those programs draw the most viewers. (In New York City and elsewhere, NBC broadcasts a third hour of Today, from 9 to 10 a.m.)

And, at least initially, Fox has chosen not to syndicate the show in the vein of Live With Regis and Kelly, the series that is perhaps its main competition at 9. Live With Regis and Kelly is produced by Buena Vista Television and is seen on many ABC stations.

In an interview yesterday, Dennis Swanson, president of operations for Fox Television Stations, said Fox believed that the stations could best distinguish themselves by producing local news from 7 to 9 a.m., but saw an opportunity for a national program in the 9 to 10 a.m. hour slot.

We think the economics for doing this show are right, Mr. Swanson said. We've got plenty of experience in that regard. We wouldn't enter into this project unless we thought there was a profit potential to it.

Asked if the new show risked cannibalizing Fox News's audience at 9 when Fox & Friends leaves the air, and the daytime lineup begins Bill Shine, senior vice president of programming for Fox News, said the programming was intended to be distinct enough to pose no such concerns.

There are hundreds of millions of viewers out there, Mr. Shine said. We're going after all of them.

Mr. Shine added that another national show broadcast on Fox stations and distributed by Twentieth Television, Geraldo at Large, had not appeared to cut into Fox News's audience.

In another morning news development, ABC News has decided to hire Jim Murphy, a former executive producer of the CBS Evening News, as a senior producer on Good Morning America, said an ABC News staff member who knew of the hire but was not authorized to disclose it. Though the program's executive producer, Ben Sherwood, is leaving this fall, Mr. Murphy's responsibilities and title have not been finalized, the staff member said. Mr. Murphy's potential move to ABC was first reported yesterday on the Broadcasting & Cable Web site.

The Fox group includes stations in New York (WNYW, Channel 5), Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, as well as in Cleveland, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Orlando. Because the Los Angeles station already has a morning show at 9, and the station in Cleveland is planning to produce one of its own, Mr. Swanson said those stations might delay carrying the new national show until 10 a.m.

Mr. Ailes declined, through a spokeswoman, to be interviewed yesterday, deferring instead to Mr. Swanson and Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/ar...gewanted=print
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post #13523 of 25503 Old 07-18-2006, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
The basics of ABC: Premiere dates and other stuff you'll want to know about

By Melanie McFarland Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV Critic in her TV blog July 18, 2006

I used to give ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson credit for being as reasonable and down-to-Earth as he is, and if I wasn't saddled with trying to put together the verbal equivalent of that climactic routine in "Flashdance" three times a day -- and failing with increasing frequency as my batteries run down -- I still would.

The truth is, I wish the guy came off as even a smidgen pompous, purely for entertainment purposes. McPherson's plain-spoken, normal guy attitude seems to be infectious among television executives who chat with us, which doesn't give us much material to work with here.

So let's skip straight to the information you're dying to know about. "Lost" returns Oct. 4, with J.J. Abrams back in the writing room. Though Damon Lindelof did well enough without Abrams, it'll be good to see what the "Mission: Impossible 3" director can do with the third season.

The downside of this is that "Lost" will only run for six or seven episodes, before taking a 13 week break. That's what we get for complaining about all those reruns, a three-month abandonment. McPherson acknowledged that running 22 episodes non-stop from the fall through the spring would be preferable in a perfect world, but the production schedule makes that impossible to do. "We just can't get the shows done in that amount of time," he said.

He'll have to hope that during "Lost's" excruciating downtime, we'll fall in love with "Day Break," a thriller that stars Taye Diggs. Having seen him in person, let me just say the man is a Godiva bar with legs. However! How much do you want to bet that Diggs' show will pay for displacing "Lost"? The scorn due to be heaped upon this show could be substantial.

Sure, it's too early to predict whether "Day Break" will be worth pushing "Lost" off the schedule until the spring, but take a little comfort in knowing that we don't have to deal with those annoying reruns or clip shows.

Next on the scale of shows we care about: "Grey's Anatomy" returns at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, where it will take on "CSI" and provide a strong lead-in to Abrams other production, "Six Degrees." McPherson doesn't expect to dethrone CBS, but again, this is where I was hoping his mouth would write checks the network couldn't cash. Instead, he said, "we're coming on with a strong contender and hope to do some business there."

Honesty -- what a snooze! Next: "Desperate Housewives" premieres at 9 p.m. Sept. 24, and there may be hope for the old hag yet. Marc Cherry, creator mastermind behind the delicious first season, has retaken the role of showrunner. (Tom Spezialy, the guy to blame for season two, has left the series. ) And, McPherson said, "The early scripts and the storylines and the arcs and the mystery, I think, are a lot stronger from the get-go."

ABC's new season actually begins Tuesday, Sept. 12, with two hours of "Dancing with the Stars." (Actually, it really begins with a new "20/20" on Sept. 8, but do you care as much? Probably not.) "Dancing's" competition shows will run for two hours for the first two weeks, then scale back to become the 90 minute lead-in support for the new comedy "Help Me Help You," debuting on Sept. 26. However, among the new series, "Ugly Betty," which starts Sept. 22, is the one to watch.

Indeed, ABC's schedule still gives us plenty to rant and rave about, emphasis on the rave part. But ABC's freshmen roster is one of the strongest among the major networks, although each series comes off with varying degrees of success. But even the ones that made me want to break things ("Men in Trees" - more on that with Anne Heche tomorrow) were watchable from start to finish.

Actually, I take that back - "Big Day," which operates under the assumption that people are dying to spend a season watching some tart's frou frou wedding day, is completely flushable.

There's always an element of doom to this game. But give credit to ABC for caring enough to entertain somebody, somewhere, for whatever amount of time that they remain on the air.

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/p...entryID=105116
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(From Marc Berman's Wednesday, July 19, 2006, Programming Insider column at Mediaweek.com )
LIVE FROM THE TCA SUMMER PRESS TOUR IN PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

ABC: Opening Executive Comments

Growing ABC was the toast of the town just one year ago courtesy of Desperate Housewives, Lost and the recently introduced Grey's Anatomy. But three things immediately concerning about the network this year are: 1) the collapse creatively of the residents of Wisteria Lane in season two, 2) Lost sharing the Wednesday 9 p.m. hour next season with new drama Day Break (and exiting for 13 weeks after just six or seven episodes) and, of course, 3) Grey's Anatomy shifting to Thursday opposite CSI on CBS. Can the grand-slam of three keep ABC afloat in 2006-07, or is the comeback network heading for a downfall?

What will change this year about Desperate Housewives is that Tom Spezialy has left the series, and Marc (Cherry) has taken over 100 percent of the show running, and that's been a terrific change, said Stephen McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment. The early scripts and the storylines, and the arcs and the mystery are a lot stronger from the get-go. Everyone, including Marc, admitted that we stumbled a little bit at the beginning of last year. We answered so many questions at the end of the first season that we really spent too much time setting up the mystery, and setting up the new arcs. This year we are going to jump right in. You guys will be the judge of that when you see in the first couple of episodes, but they'll be all going through Marc's typewriter, which is a great thing.

The real mystery to be solved, actually, should be why Marc Cherry took a back-seat role on Desperate Housewives this season. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is never to take the early success of any series for granted. As for Lost, the pending situation is entirely different:

Lost is a very, very difficult show to produce, noted McPherson. If we could run 22 straight episodes, we probably would. But we just can't get the episodes done in that amount of time. We've seen some shows survive against American Idol and do well, and feel like when there are two good shows in a time period (Lost and Day Break), they can both do business.

We are going to have some additive stuff that allows people to extend their experience with Lost, continued McPherson. We won't have broadband episodes separately, but we're looking at a number of different opportunities where people can keep up, participate in, and have other kinds of additive experiences in between the runs. We just really listened to the audience about the repeats, and it felt like this was really the best way to run the show as the producers.

Word of advice to ABC: Do not run just six or seven episodes of Lost, and then have it disappear for three months. And find a way to make sure you do a full season's worth of episodes (which the network has not confirmed will definitely happen). Although following the same pattern as Fox's 24, and returning in January, may be a long wait to avoid repeats, if you tease the audience with just a handful of episodes and replace it with an unproven drama you could alienate the viewers. It's a mistake waiting to happen, and it could result in a large audience loss given we will be knee deep in American Idol mania by February. Give us Lost -- even make us wait -- but do not chop up the episode order.

On the subject of Grey's Anatomy airing out of two unproven comedies (Big Day and Notes From the Underbelly):

We definitely think Grey's Anatomy is a self-starter, said McPherson. And we really believe in these comedies. I think it's the first time that we are really going to go full board against Thursday nights. Certainly, you know, CSI and Survivor are incredibly strong competition. We think the cornerstone for us Thursdays is Grey's, but we also think we can do some business with both those comedies as well. I think they are really compatible to Grey's and to the whole night.

While you can't fault a network for being aggressive (and both CSI and Grey's Anatomy will succeed against each other, despite potential erosion), expect the medical drama to mirror Wednesday this season when only one show, Lost at 9 p.m., garnered any real interest. Chances of Big Day and Notes From the Underbelly succeeding in the competitive Thursday 8 p.m. hour are nil.

As for the Emmy snubs this year for Desperate Housewives and Lost:

Clearly it's because of the new system, I would assume, said a stunned McPherson. I mean, who wins the Emmys is one thing, but to have that kind of oversight just, to me, is remarkable. I think for one year for Lost to win it and then the next year to not be nominated, and for one of the Desperate Housewives to win the best actress and then for none of them to be nominated the next year, there's a problem. I've heard everything from "Well, maybe the blue-ribbon panels had never seen Lost.' To me, then, there's a problem with the panels. But we are thrilled to have the nominations we have. Grey's Anatomy has gotten a tremendous amount of recognition, but there are just some odd, both positive and negative, things throughout the Emmys. And I hope that the Academy will look at it and realize that maybe the changes they made aren't all good and that they need to go back.

While it was indeed bizarre for Lost not to snag an Outstanding Drama Series nomination, there was absolutely no reason for any of the Desperate Housewives to be nominated this season, even if Felicity Huffman was named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama last year. When a show slips - and, let's be honest, Desperate Housewives sunk - there is no reason for fickle Emmy to take notice.

On the ABC Panel Front: SIX DEGREES
Thursday 10:00 p.m.

The Premise:
Six strangers living in New York City become friends after eventually meeting again through a mysterious web of happenstance and coincidence in this new drama from Lost creator J.J. Abrams.

Lead-in: Grey's Anatomy

Competition: Shark (CBS), ER (NBC)

Who Was on the Panel:
Erika Christensen, Hope Davis, Jay Hernandez, Dorian Missick, Bridget Moynihan, and executive producers Bryan Burk, Raven Metzner, and Stuart Zicherman.

The Scoop:
For an inside look at Six Degrees, according to Stuart Zicherman:

This show is about the web of people that fill our lives. It's not just about friends. It's about friends, enemies, lovers, rivals, mentors. And we all have a network of people in our lives that range from people much older than us to people much younger than us that come in and effectively change our lives. By the end of the first season, we expect that all the characters will have had an effect on each other in some regard, but it also doesn't mean these are the only six degrees that will come walking into the show in the course of the first season.

The Reality:
Without CBS' Without A Trace (which moves to Sunday) and out of the relocated Grey's Anatomy, you might think that the odds are stacked in favor of Six Degrees. But with J.J. Abrams at the helm, the danger of his complicated type of story telling is potentially alienating an audience looking for something easy to digest before they call it a day. If Six Degrees is too over the top, viewers in search of a meaty drama (and tired of NBC's competing ER) are likely to head over to new CBS legal drama Shark, which could benefit by the familiarity.

Chance of Survival for Six Degrees (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 5-1

Did You Know?:
The last time ABC opened a fall season with a scripted drama was Murder One in 1995.

HELP ME HELP YOU Tuesday 9:30 p.m.

The Premise:
Ted Danson heads back to the world of sitcoms in this single camera, half-hour comedy about a collection of eccentric individuals in group therapy with a respected therapist, who may have more problems than his patients.

Lead-in: The Knights of Prosperity

Competition: The Unit (CBS), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC), House (Fox), Veronica Mars (CW)

Who Was On the Panel:
Ted Danson, Jere Burns, Charlie Finn, Darlene Hunt, Suzy Nakamura, and executive producers Jennifer Konner, Alex Reid and Alexandra Rushfield.

The Scoop:
In terms of how Ted Danson prepares for a new series:

My homework is to find the script and the writers that excite you and make you laugh and smile and all of that. So the homework is to have found two people, three people now, whose point of view about life I find really bright and really funny. And that attracts people like this cast and writers and directors. So it really starts with a really well-written, well-crafted script. And then everything else falls into place. So all of our jobs, I think, become just putting the material on and having fun with it. The mind-set is finding the right material."

The Reality:
Opposite four proven dramas, ABC was wise to counter-program with comedies. But if the network was really clever, it would have positioned the more familiar looking Help Me Help You (with the bigger name of Ted Danson as its star) in the lead-off time period. Out of unproven The Knights of Prosperity (which could quickly wear thin minus Mick Jagger in the pilot) and against The Unit, House and the relocated Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ted Danson might be looking for a Cheers (or Becker) reunion sooner than he thinks.

Chance of Survival for Help Me Help You (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 8-1

Did You Know?:
In between Cheers and Becker, Ted Danson was featured opposite short-lived CBS sitcom Ink in the 1996-97 season.

UGLY BETTY Friday 8:00 p.m.

The Premise:
An oversized square peg from Queens is hired as the assistant for the new head of a top-read fashion magazine because she is the one person in New York City he will not sleep with. Repulsed at first, Betty will win him over with her intelligence efficiency.

Competition: Ghost Whisperer (CBS), Crossing Jordan (NBC), Nanny 911 (Fox), Friday Night Smackdown! (CW)

Who Was On the Panel:
Alan Dale, America Ferrara, Mark Indelicato, Ashley Jensen, Eric Mabius, Becki Newton, Anna Ortiz, Tony Plana, Vanessa Williams, and executive producers Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, James Parriott and Ben Silverman.

The Scoop:
The origins of Ugly Betty, which come from a telenovela, are as follows:

The original telenovela was made in Colombia, and it was a phenomenon in Colombia, explained Salma Hayek. And I think it was groundbreaking, because usually telenovelas are a lot more melodramatic and this one was dramatic but had an amazing sense of humor. And then, it became an incredible success in all of the Latin countries and then in many places around the world. And I think it's because it's about the fish out of water, probably the person that is not conventional in the way they look or the way they talk, but that they are incredibly smart and hard workers. And, of course, they get ahead in life using that. Everybody wants to see these kinds of stories, but at the same time she is not a victim. She has a sense of humor about herself, and I think America is the best Betty ever by far.

The Reality:
Opposite two dramas and two reality oriented competitors, it makes sense for ABC to counter-program with comedy. But like the majority of shows that try to be original, the obstacle Ugly Betty faces is alienating the audience with a lack of familiar feel. Plus, won't the premise of a frumpy square peg wear prematurely thin?

Chance of Survival for Ugly Betty (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 9-1

Did You Know?:
The only other show history to use the word ugly in the title was The Ugliest Girl in Town, an ABC sitcom about a young man (Peter Kastner) who dresses as a woman to help his photographer brother and ends up being hired as a model in England. It lasted four months in the 1968-69 season.

DAY BREAK Wednesday 9:00 p.m. (effective on Nov. 15 in place of Lost)

The Premise:
After a detective (Taye Diggs) is falsely accused of killing an assistant District Attorney, he wakes up the next day and relives the same nightmare over and over again. In order to get past this day, he must figure out who framed him and find the real killer.

Lead-in: Dancing With the Stars

Competition: Criminal Minds (CBS), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Justice (Fox), One Tree Hill (WB)

Who Was On the Panel:
Taye Diggs, Adam Baldwin, Moon Bloodgood, Meta Golding, Victoria Pratt, Ramon Rodriguez, executive producers Jeffrey Bell and Matthew Gross, and creator/co-executive producer Paul Zbuszewski.

The Scoop:
If Day Break manages to succeed, here is what creator/co-executive producer Paul Zbuszewski had to say:

The season is a day. So in 13 episodes we have a payoff, a big payoff. And the following season would be another day. I mean, it could be three months later; it could be six months later, the point being Hopper would be at another crossroads in his life, different set of circumstances and, you know, chaos happens."

The Reality:
Frustrated fans of Lost tuning in on Nov. 15 and realizing their favorite drama is suddenly on hiatus might find themselves heading for the remote for the familiarity of Criminal Minds on CBS (at least until Fox's American Idol returns).

Chance of Survival for Day Break (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 5-1

Did You Know?:
If the plot of Day Break sounds familiar, just think back to Fox classic The X-Files. There was an episode on this very same subject matter.

BIG DAY Thursday 8:00 p.m.

The Premise:
The meticulous planning of the wedding of a young couple is broken down in 22 episodes (or less, of course, if there is no audience). Former Just Shoot Me star Wendie Malick stars.

Competition: Survivor: Cook Island (CBS), My Name Is Earl (NBC), Til Death (Fox), Smallville (WB)

Who Was on the Panel:
Josh Cooke, Kurt Fuller, Wendie Malick, Steve Rannazzisi, Miriam Shor, Marla Sokoloff, Stephanie Weir, and executive producers Matthew Carlson, Josh Goldsmith, and Cathy Yuspa.

The Scoop:
In the event you are wondering if the subject of one individual wedding is enough to carry a sitcom for 22 episodes, according to executive producer Cathy Yuspa:

There is a lot that goes down on a wedding day and a lot of guests that show up and a lot of family strife and, hopefully, a lot of dynamic set-up among these people that's going to keep things very hot. The salad was the focus of the pilot, but we've got a lot of crazy stuff yet to happen.

The Reality:
Although facing CBS' Survivor Cook Islands and NBC's My Name Is Earl will be no easy feat, the sleeper success in the time period could be Fox comedy Til Death, led by sitcom veteran Brad Garrett playing a role similar to Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond. With the CW's proven Smallville still a magnet for younger viewers, there won't be much left for Big Day. Word of advice to the young couple: elope before the midseason axe swings!

Chance of Survival for Big Day (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 10-1

THE NINE Wednesday 10:00 p.m.

The Premise:
Nine people face an unexpected twist of faith after they are all held hostage in a 52-hour standoff during a botched bank robbery attempt. Chi McBride (Boston Public), Timothy Daly (Wings), and Scott Wolf (Everwood, Party of Five) lead the ensemble cast.

Lead-in: Lost

Competition: CSI: NY (CBS), Kidnapped (NBC)

Who Was on the Panel:
Lourdes Benedicto, John Billingsley, Jessica Collins, Tim Daly, Dana Davis, Camille Guaty, Chi McBride, Kim Raver, Scott Wolf, Owain Yeoman, creator/executive producers Hank Steinberg and K.J. Steinberg, and executive producer Alex Graves.

The Scoop:
To the fans wondering if Kim Raver will be returning to Fox's 24, according to the actress:

You know, I have to be sort of careful what I say. They are keeping Audrey alive. Hopefully it will be me going back to play Audrey and not someone else. And there's a specific reason that I can't get into now, but yeah, hopefully - I mean, I am here now, and hopefully I will jump and do a couple of storylines there.

The Reality:
Although former time period occupant Invasion seemed like a sure thing out of the compatible Lost, ABC was wise to abandon science fiction for the more familiar crime related programming theme. And the absence of NBC's declining Law & Order, which shifts to Friday in place of new drama Kidnapped, could open the door to even more potential sampling. Since CBS incumbent CSI: NY is by no means a breakout hit, there would be room for The Nine, at least for the first six or seven weeks, while lead-in Lost (which will exit for a temporary rest in midseason) is still at bat.

Chance of Survival for The Nine (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1): 4-1

Did You Know?:
Matthew Fox, who headlines Lost at 9 p.m., played Scott Wolf's older brother in Fox serial Party of Five.

Press Tour Tidbits: Notes of Interest

ABC in Spanish:
ABC has announced an increased number of programs dubbed in Spanish for the 2006-07 season. Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Dancing With the Stars, George Lopez and the upcoming Ugly Betty will all be dubbed in Spanish, while the remainder of the network's regular primetime line-up will be available with Spanish language subtitles.

http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/newslett...ider/index.jsp
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Washington Notebook
Reps. Seek EchoStar Compromise

By Ted Hearn Multichannel.com 7/18/2006

A few House lawmakers from rural districts are trying to broker a compromise to ensure that more than a half-million EchoStar Communications subscribers continue to receive out-of-market feeds of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox programming.

Under a May Federal Appeals Court ruling, EchoStar is facing an injunction that would deny it the right to provide distant network signals to anyone in the United States. As of April 2002, EchoStar sold distant signals to 1.2 million customers, and about one-half were legally ineligible to buy the programming. But the court's ruling apparently would also require denial of service to the 600,000 customers who were legally receiving the programming.

The fate of EchoStar's eligible subscribers has gained the attention of Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Chip Pickering (R-Miss.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.), who have asked EchoStar and hundreds of network affiliates to reach a settlement.

We all represent rural areas, and we have thousands of constituents who are eligible to receive out-of-market signals. They pass the test, Boucher said.

EchoStar and DirecTV are allowed to transmit a network signal from New York and beam it around the country, but only customers with inadequate, over-the-air antenna reception are permitted to purchase the programming.

Broadcasters battled EchoStar in court because they want viewers to watch their local affiliates with local commercials.

Boucher and the other lawmakers convened a Capitol Hill meeting last Thursday, bringing the key parties together so that they understood the stakes involved from the lawmakers' perspective. DirecTV is not involved in the current dispute.

The lawmakers are concerned about a harsh public backlash if the eligible customers are denied service. You would have a massive letter-writing campaign to Congress from the eligible subscribers who are no longer getting their signals, who do not want to undergo the annoyance and expense of having to switch to another satellite provider or just prefer EchoStar for some reason, Boucher said.

A compromise would require EchoStar and DirecTV to commit to provide local TV signals in all 210 markets within a certain period of time. EchoStar's eligible customers would not be cut off. But some broadcasters want the deal to require EchoStar to pay restitution and to agree to migrate distant network subscribers to a local signal package.

Our goal is to avoid disruption to consumers, EchoStar spokeswoman Kathie Gonzalez said. We very much appreciate the efforts of members [of Congress] to protect their constituents and facilitate the process.

Boucher -- who did not say how long the parties had to reach a deal -- said he expects all involved to bargain in good faith.

I am very optimistic, Boucher said of a settlement. The meeting achieved exactly what we wanted it to achieve. It showed to both sides that there is congressional interest.

Legislating a compromise, he added, was not being considered, but that could change if a stalemate were to drag on. If one party or the other proves recalcitrant here, I can imagine a legislative effort that would be joined by houses [of Congress], Boucher said.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leid=CA6354449
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Washington Notebook
Barton, Deal to Hold Retrans Roundtable

By Ted Hearn Multichannel.com

House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) is planning to hold a roundtable discussion Thursday afternoon on carriage negotiations between local TV stations and cable and satellite TV operators, also known as retransmission consent, according to industry lobbyists.

Barton is expected to host the session along with Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), who in April withdrew a retransmission-consent-reform proposal -- which was not expected to pass -- in exchange for a Barton-sponsored private industry forum.

Deal has for years been concerned that broadcasters have been abusing retransmission consent to force cable to carry unwanted nonbroadcast programming on the expanded-basic tier, causing the package to swell in size and price to the detriment of cable consumers.

Cable-industry participants expected to attend include Insight Communications CEO Michael Willner and American Cable Association outside counsel Christopher Cinnamon. Cox Communications and direct-broadcast satellite provider EchoStar Communications are expected to send representatives.

It is also possible that a representative of Suddenlink Communications will attend. Suddenlink -- a cable operator formally called Cebridge Connections -- is in the middle of a heated carriage dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is demanding that the cable company pony up a onetime $40 million upfront fee and a $1-per-subscriber, per-month charge ($2.4 million annually) in order to maintain carriage of the ABC and Fox affiliates in Charleston, W. Va.

Sinclair owns the ABC affiliate (WCHS) and it has a local marketing agreement with the Fox station (WVAH). Suddenlink, which has refused to pay, and Sinclair have brought the Federal Communications Commission into the dispute.

On the broadcasting side, attorney Kurt Wimmer of Covington & Burling and Disney executive vice president of worldwide government relations Preston Padden are also expected to be on hand.

The session, which is closed to the media, is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. and go for one hour. Energy and Commerce spokesman Terry Lane declined to comment.

Barton agreed to hold the forum as a concession to Deal, who wanted to add retransmission-consent provisions to Barton's telecommunications bill (H.R. 5252), which has cable franchising reform as its centerpiece. Deal, who lacked a committee majority, never offered his amendment.

Among other things, the Deal amendment would have allowed any cable or DBS provider to seek arbitration to settle a carriage dispute with a local TV station after a 90-day window of private bargaining. The TV station, which could not pull its signal during arbitration, had to be affiliated with at least one cable network.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leid=CA6354450
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The Business of TV
CEO says USDTV far from finished


By Brice Wallace Deseret Morning News Wednesday, July 19, 2006

DRAPER An upstart operation done in by bigger forces? A revolutionary company that lost uphill battles on several fronts? A financially troubled firm whose rocky start eventually will be seen as a blip on the way to ultimate success?

Regardless of how a person might view U.S. Digital Television LLC, its founder and chief executive officer said Tuesday that the TV programming provider's history is not yet fully written, despite the expectation that the company will be acquired through bankruptcy court proceedings.

Steve Lindsley said Tuesday that he expects USDTV to continue to grow after the sale.

"We'll get through this period here and then emerge hopefully stronger than ever," he said.

The provider of low-cost, wireless, digital TV service filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy July 6 in Delaware. A bankruptcy court trustee, Alfred Thomas Giuliano of Marlton, N.J., is seeking a court order allowing him to keep the service operating until a company sale can be completed, Lindsley said. Several third-party investment groups have expressed interest in acquiring USDTV, and "our management team has aligned itself with one of the top investor groups and believes that they will win the bid process of acquiring the company," Lindsley said.

"We very much look forward to progressing with our dream of providing consumers with a low-cost, family-friendly alternative to cable and satellite."

Lindsley declined to identify that investor group but said it has telecommunication interests "more than just video, but also broadband and telephony interests."

The likely outcome is that the buyer will purchase USDTV from bankruptcy and continue the service.

"Who that will be has yet to be determined, but we believe a group we're familiar with . . . is motivated to pick up a robust video offering because they have Internet and phone plans and need video to complete the triple-play bundle."

A creditors meeting will take place Aug. 3. Lindsley said the new owners likely will be known by late August and take over operations Sept. 1.

As for his role going forward, "that's in the hands of the new owners," he said. "But I anticipate a role on the management team, if not the CEO of the combined initiatives."

Formed in June 2003 and commercially launched in December 2005, USDTV leases portions of the digital spectrum from local television stations. Customers with a set-top box and antenna receive about 30 channels of "off-the-air" wireless digital TV service for $19.95 monthly as a low-cost alternative to cable or satellite TV.

The company reportedly had about 6,000 subscribers in Utah, part of a group of 16,000 in Salt Lake City, Dallas, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

USDTV continues to provide service, and Lindsley expects that to continue. Prior to the bankruptcy filing, USDTV had about 120 employees, including about 50 in Utah. A skeleton crew remains, but Lindsley said he expects the company's call center to be operating in "a number of days" to allow customers to report problems or ask questions.

"It has been incredibly frustrating," he said of the company's recent situation. "My heart goes out to employees, partners, all the stakeholders, investors everybody who believed in us and supported us. We are not through with the fight."

USDTV's effort was backed by $25.75 million from several partners, including Fox Television Stations Inc., Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, LIN TV Corp., Morgan Murphy Stations and Telcom DTV LLC. Bankruptcy court documents indicate the company had estimated assets of between $1 million and $10 million. Lindsley declined Tuesday to be more specific about the assets but said the estimated debt was about $15 million.

Lindsley acknowledged that the young company had sporadic technical problems and a troublesome transition to a new billing system in May and early June. But he put the blame for the company's woes squarely on new broadcast partners that were expected to jump aboard USDTV's vision.

"The initial group was comfortable with our performance, but it was new funding sources, namely new broadcast partners, who would not step up and move the company forward," he said.

USDTV was "well on its way of proving the business model of a low-cost alternative" to cable service, he said, but the broadcast industry was unwilling to compete directly with cable.

Broadcasters and cable operators have been battling in federal government circles about whether cable will be forced to carry broadcasters' second digital channels on cable systems, Lindsley said. Broadcasters became nervous about possible investment in USDTV while that battle waged "in other words, to take on cable directly with a cable product," he said.

Broadcasters also were worried that cable companies would refuse to clear new content offerings in local markets on their cable systems or not spend advertising money with broadcasters lined up with USDTV.

"Throughout the political and regulatory and competitive issues over the last seven months, it became clear that other broadcasters were concerned about taking on cable head-on, so they decided not to invest with the initial group. Ultimately, that's what sent the company into bankruptcy," Lindsley said.

"There was was really no way to adjust quickly enough to find other financing alternatives, and it was very frustrating to us."

He said he remains proud of the USDTV management team and its ability to develop the service, build content relationships, develop technology and forge distribution agreements.

"The key pieces were built from scratch, and I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish, and to have over 16,000 homes enjoy USDTV is a real testament to the work of our people," he said. "This has been a dream of our team and a hard-fought battle for many years. We're anxious as a management team to be able to get to our personal victory of providing this service to potentially millions of homes across America."

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640195824,00.html
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The TV Column
ABC Exposes Its 'Anatomy

By Lisa de Moraes Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, July 19, 2006; C01

PASADENA, Calif., July 18 ABC and CBS suits are locked in battle over who will win the highly anticipated ratings war this fall between CBS's "CSI" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."

Appearing before a couple hundred TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2006 Tuesday, suits from each network insist theirs will be the loser.

Managing expectations is one of the most important skill sets for a Hollywood suit: Winning the first week of the face-off between these two powerhouse dramas is great, but being the surprise winner gets you a banner headline in Variety.

Three days earlier, CBS's Nina Tassler stated firmly that she expects "CSI" to get kicked by "Grey's Anatomy," which is moving from its Sunday berth to the Thursday 9 p.m. slot.

"Who would have thought that 'CSI' would be the underdog?" Tassler said with a straight face -- and you thought TV comedy was dead.

Hooey, said ABC programming chief Steve McPherson of Tassler's performance.

"I heard Nina was playing the rope-a-dope -- it's kind of funny," he told the Reporters Who Cover Television on Tuesday.

" 'CSI' and CBS have dominated that night, so I think they are the champions, without question. We're coming on with a strong contender and hope to do some business there," he said.

The move of "Grey's Anatomy" was not a last-minute decision, as one critic suggested, but one based on a year of thought, McPherson said.

"We believed we needed to move it to build our schedule; that's one of the reasons we gave it the post-Super Bowl slot" in February, he explained.

McPherson detailed plans to try to recover momentum on ABC's two hit series -- "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" -- that lost traction in their sophomore seasons.

The "Desperate Housewives" executive producer has left and creator Marc Cherry has "taken over 100 percent of the show-running," McPherson said, calling it "a terrific change."

"Everyone, including Marc, admitted that at the beginning of last year, we stumbled a little bit," he said.

"Lost" will come back for six episodes starting Oct. 4, go away, then return in the first quarter of 2007 and run straight through without interruption. That way, no reruns, he explained.

Plus, series creator J.J. Abrams will be back on "Lost" (as well as his two other ABC shows, "What About Brian" and the new "Six Degrees") full time, which McPherson said "will be a terrific asset for us."

When Abrams took time last year to direct "Mission: Impossible III," McPherson said, "we really missed him, so it's nice to have him full time."

For one season: Abrams is leaving ABC parent Disney, where he's been based, having recently cut a deal with Warner Bros.

"My reaction is really, 'Thank you for all your work and we look forward to the shows that we have on the air this year,' " McPherson said when asked to comment on his studio losing the services of the guy who helped put ABC back on the map.

Speaking of "Lost," it's a coincidence that ABC has added more serialized dramas to its lineup instead of closed-ended ones. Ditto that all five of its new comedies are single-camera shows and do not have a laugh track, McPherson insisted.

"We didn't say we don't want to do comedies with laugh tracks . . . We certainly went out there and said we want to break the mold. . . . The same-old, same-old is not working, so the traditional three-camera, couch-in-the-middle sitcom just didn't seem to be breaking out at all. There weren't great voices -- there weren't the Roseanne and Tim Allen voices behind those kind of shows."

McPherson dismissed a suggestion that single-camera comedy is riskier than sitcoms with laugh tracks. "Comedy is risky in general right now because it's kind of broken," he said.

ABC really messed up "Commander in Chief," McPherson acknowledged; the White House drama started strong, then took a nose dive before being canceled.

Given a do-over opportunity, "we would probably bring it on later in the season" and give creator Rod Lurie more preparation time, McPherson said. "He was the voice of that show. The week-to-week production of a series is a real education, and that was what was hard for him. If we had gotten way out ahead, we would have had a much better chance to be able to deliver a show week to week."



And here's another fun thing about Hollywood: While McPherson was telling reporters he "would like nothing more for my buddy [NBC entertainment chief Kevin Reilly] than to see NBC competing for the top spot this year" in the ratings, complimenting Reilly on the "great job" he's done of "developing some really interesting shows" and hoping Reilly will be "allowed to put his schedule on," NBC was upstaging McPherson by blasting an e-mail to the reporters sitting with their laptops in the ballroom with him, about having signed Spike Lee to develop an unspecified drama series.

It was one of those announcements-for-announcement's-sake that abound in Hollywood:

"Spike Lee was one of the first people that I wanted to make a priority for the network," said Katie O'Connell, NBC senior vice president, drama development.

"To say we feel incredibly lucky to be working with Spike Lee is an understatement," added Laura Lancaster, NBC Universal Television Studio senior vice president, drama and cable programming.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...801804_pf.html
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post #13529 of 25503 Old 07-19-2006, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
More humor for 'Housewives'

By Ellen Gray Philadelphia Daily News

PASADENA, Calif. - "Desperate Housewives," whose claim to be a comedy seemed occasionally suspect this past season, may be returning to its roots this fall.

With "Housewives" creator Marc Cherry in and show-runner Tom Spezialy out, ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson said yesterday he thinks "it's going to get a little back to the heart of it... a wicked comedy," albeit one with soap opera elements.

(So maybe the next guy they lock in a basement will get to be funny.)

Spezialy, whose credits include NBC's "Ed" and Showtime's "Dead Like Me," was brought in after the pilot, McPherson said, because Cherry, whose background was in comedy, had never run an hourlong show. But now, it seems, Cherry's ready to take back the reins of the show whose success, along with that of "Lost," helped launch TV's current trend back to serials.

McPherson won't promise that "Desperate" fans won't have to contend with reruns this season, but he did say he hopes to air more than the standard 22 episodes and plans to group reruns in blocks so viewers will at least know whether or not to tune in.

That's not quite the plan with ABC's "Lost," which will air six or seven original episodes in the fall, take a 13-week break while the network introduces "Daybreak," then return for an unbroken string of new episodes.

" 'Desperate' and 'Grey's [Anatomy'] repeat much, much better than 'Lost,' " McPherson said.

'Gilmore' tongue-twisters

I've never been one of those people who insist, every Emmy season, that the "Gilmore Girls" got robbed.

But if there were an award for Mastering Tricky Dialogue Under Trying Conditions, I might lobby for the entire cast.

Starting with star Lauren Graham, who plays Lorelai and who was here Monday afternoon with co-star Alexis Bledel - who plays her daughter, Rory - and her new boss, David S. Rosenthal.

Rosenthal moved up when creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her producer husband Daniel left the show this spring after failing to agree on a contract for the coming season, and while a lot of hard-core "Gilmore" fans are worried about the transition, Graham, at least, seemed to be embracing it.

For one thing, she now expects to get scripts earlier than the night before shooting begins.

"Amy and Dan were last-minute writers, which plenty of people are," she said.

"Once they figured out that they could, because we could" memorize the dialogue so quickly, they knew they could do things that way, Graham said.

"I think if we'd had a harder time, they'd have had to adjust," she added. Memorizing is one thing, performing is another.

"It's also the word-perfect of it, and that's really a very specific thing," she said. "Because there's no changing anything, and I think that might loosen up a little bit, which to me is something I have wanted. Just a little bit, not like we're improvising, but just so that I'm not driving myself crazy with the kind of recitation, the focus on perfection. Instead, the focus can kind of go back on the emotion and sort of what I'm trying to do."

So were there a lot of multiple takes? "Oh, my God," she said. "I think that's a point of pride for them. And again, there are famous show-runners who are like this: David Kelley and Aaron Sorkin who, they hear it in their head in a certain way, and that's the way they want it and that's to be totally respected," she said. "It just made for a really long day."

Graham had earlier told reporters she'd had reservations about some of the things Lorelai had been up to in the past two seasons - mostly the long estrangement from Rory and the way, as one critic put it, she'd acted like a "wuss" in letting Luke (Scott Patterson) dictate the terms of her relationship with his newfound daughter.

She defended, though, the Palladinos' decision to put her in bed with Rory's father, Christopher (David Sutcliffe) in the season finale:

"I thought it was great," Graham said. "I can't believe people were upset. I thought it was so great, because that was such great drama. That is what people do... to me, that was what made her going against her natural instincts [in her dealings with Luke this season] make more sense... There's always been something between them. It's not like she picked up some new guy in a bar. That would be outrageous and out of character."

Graham said she hasn't decided whether she'd be willing to go beyond this season - when her contract's up - and that she hadn't thought of how she'd like to see the show end, but she does know how she doesn't want it to end: with "a cheesy double wedding."

"Gilmore Girls," she said, is the story of "three - I would include Kelly Bishop [who plays her mother, Emily] in that - powerful women navigating their way through life. I don't think it is guy-dependent."

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/ent...printstory.jsp
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post #13530 of 25503 Old 07-19-2006, 07:21 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Critics Summer Press Tour
When at Press Tour, Kindly Check Your Unbridled Enthusiasm and Garden-Variety Toadiness At the Door

By Ray Richmond The Hollywood Reporter in his blog Past Deadline

We all need someone we can lean on. That became apparent to me the day I started work as a talent coordinator and segment producer for "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1985, during the seminal talk show's dying days. My job was to edit movie promo clips and conduct pre-interviews with guests, feeding Merv questions and answers based on that advance chat to ensure that the show contained no spontaneity whatsoever. What I wasn't told by my fellow talent coodinators prior to my first pre-show meeting with Merv was that you were never to try to be funny in Merv's presence lest he grow offended at the sheer audacity of your thinking you might succeed in drawing a smile. So of course I pretty much immediately launched into a joke. Merv responded with complete silence, literally turning his back on me. Once the meeting mercifully concluded, one of my fellow coordinators frantically took me aside and gasped, "Oh God, we forgot to tell you: nobody can be funnier than Merv!"

Uhhhhh...yeah. Thanks for the tip.

With this 20-year-old story in mind, I'm committed to being there for any TV critics who may be new on the job and taking in their first Television Critics Association press event (currently going down in Pasadena) with the goal of sparing them the same sort of excruciating pain I experienced when Merv put a well-meaning neophyte in his place.

You see, the TV critics have unwritten rules at these affairs, an ingrained code of conduct that first-timers no doubt find perplexing, not to mention unnerving. If you don't know how to properly behave, there is guaranteed to be embarrassment, admonishments, angry stares, wagging fingers and, in rare cases, the outright withholding of meaningless chit-chat. You risk being ostracized, isolated, gossiped about, possibly even placed on the TCA's version of probation (having your key access to the prison cell-size official association suite at the hotel taken away).

To guard against such public humilation and potential trauma, I submit the 10 Iron-Clad Unwritten Rules of TCA:

1. Critics do not applaud at any session no matter what! And when company drones in attendance take to clapping, critics are expected to assume the "Buddha Position" (arms crossed, legs crossed, staring blankly straight ahead, all of the body's muscles in complete repose). The louder the surrounding applause, the more blank and emotionless the expression and inert the limbs.

2. The more popular the star attending a session happens to be, the less outwardly impressed the critic must appear -- demonstrating a palpable indifference to the celebrity's standing via what's known as the "You ain't all that!" line of questioning and level of recognition. (Does not apply if the star is too hot to speak to and simultaneously breathe properly, such as in the case of Salma Hayek.)

3. When asking a question of anyone (executive, producer or star) on a panel, never address he or she by first name. It's not "Ted" but "Mr. Danson." You are not their friend. You are their journalistic overlord. And asking for autographs? Only if you want to be strangled to death. You are not a fan and are not in attendance to help them feel good about themselves or their project. At TCA, skeptical is the new curious. Always has been, come to think of it.

4. If you ask any question during a session that smacks of ass-kissing, your chances of ever achieving the respect of your fellow critics hovers close to zero. Better to let others do the asking until you get the lay of the land.

5. If you still insist on asking a question and are fortunate enough to draw the attention of one of the network pages who control microphone access, be as rude as possible. Jump up and down. Interrupt with impunity. Wave your arms frantically. Holler "Over here on your right!" at three-second intervals until acknowledged. Fall to the ground clutching your chest, feigning a heart attack. Then scream, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" or, while experiencing a miraculous and instantaneous recovery from the heart episode, yell, "I don't know about you guys, but I'm not gonna let these bastards get away with this!" If you don't approach this task with the firm conviction that you are the center of the universe and the other critics mere orbiting pieces of space trash, you'll never get a chance to speak. But again, don't worry about making a scene to get your shot. It's simply how this game is played.

6. If a fellow critic asks a question of a network executive that elicits a shifty, evasive, awkward, uncomfortable, testy or ignorant response, be sure to follow it up by asking the same question in a slightly different way. And then again if necessary. Be sure to work yourself into a hostile lather. Rinse. Then repeat during each subsequent network executive session.

7. Laughing during sessions is permissible, but it must by driven by the proper motivation. You cannot chuckle because you genuinely like the person and believe he or she is a stitch. The laughter can only emerge as a temporary, reflexive, otherwise dispassionate reaction to a single amusing moment and then immediately followed by a quick recovery and a mumbled, "Ha. Funny."

8. You can eat the free food supplied by the hotel and covered on the networks' dime but cannot appear to be enjoying it excessively. It is adequate sustenance, nothing more. To imply otherwise is to effectively abandon your power. The meals must be reflected as moderately satisfying at best. Regular and increasingly frustrated complaints about the poor quality of the gratis grub are encouraged.

9. If you speak to a fellow critic about the general news value of this year's press tour while it's in progress, it must pale in comparison -- using such descriptions as "sucks" or "bites" -- while recalling the quality and excitement of every past event. And if someone misses a session and inquires as to how it went, you are duty-bound to reply, "Oh God, it was painful. Didn't get a thing out of it. (Insert names here) were so lame."

10. If you try to sneak a "plus one" into any network party, expect to be fixed with the evil eye by many out-of-town attendees who are there by themselves. Taking along a friend or family member is not the politically savvy thing to do, implying that special (read: unethical) favors have been sought and unjust enrichment bestowed. Like smoking a cigarette in the bathroom in 7th grade, it is unlikely to escape the attention of someone with an ax to grind and will surely haunt you to your grave.

So anyway, there you go, newbies. No need to thank me. It's all just about giving back for me.

http://www.pastdeadline.com/
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