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post #361 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The Business of Television
Citigroup Says GE Should Spin Off NBCU
GE Shares Rally on the News
By Rachel Layne and Alexis Xydias Bloomberg.com

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. shares staged their biggest rally in four months after Citigroup Inc. analysts said the company should spin off NBC Universal, GE Money and the real-estate division.

``GE's size and complexity is working against investor interest in the stock and has contributed to further valuation erosion,'' the analysts wrote.

This is the second time this week analysts have suggested GE take such steps. Nicholas Heymann of Prudential Equity Group Inc. in New York said a company such as Google Inc. may be interested in buying NBC Universal as part of its effort to add to its mix of media offerings including YouTube.

Divesting assets would make GE, the world's second-largest company by market value, easier to understand for investors, wrote Citigroup analysts including Jeffrey Sprague, who rates GE a ``buy.'' Such moves could lift the stock to $45 a share, or 26 percent higher than yesterday's closing price, the analysts said.

``It would create some additional value, but not dramatic additional value,'' said Robert Spremulli, an analyst at TIAA- CREF in New York, which owned more than 74 million GE shares at the end of March. ``It's important to note the Citigroup report is talking about spinouts, because if you sell NBC Universal, GE Money, GE Real Estate outright there's very large dilution to earnings per share.''

Under Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt, who took over for Jack Welch in September 2001, Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE has agreed to more than $80 billion in acquisitions and $35 billion in disposals to shed slower-growing units such as insurance and plastics.

For the whole story, go here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...ZhYqA&refer=us
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post #362 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebkell View Post

Any news on whether ABC is going to put the remaining "Six Degrees" episodes online?

It was supposed to start today.

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/showat...&view=listings
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post #363 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 03:01 PM
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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=833718

Fred: Have you seen this? I know you are a ST sub and was wondering if you tried to get the free SF according to the feedback in this thread.
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post #364 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I have seen it. I'll probably try this weekend.

Thanks, Maestro J.
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post #365 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 03:17 PM
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Me too Fred. I'll report back on what happens.
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post #366 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

The Business of Television
This year's Upfront dates

There is just a little over two weeks to go until we learn which shows will be back next year and what new programs are being scheduled by the networks. And keeping checking in over the weekend, as leaks about pickups and cancellations are bound to be slipping into the media over the next few days.

Here is the revised upfront schedule of when networks make their 2007-2008 season presentations to the nation's advertisers (and TV critics) in New York City:

NBC Monday May 14
ABC Tuesday May 15
CBS Wednesday May 16
FOX Thursday May 17
CW Thursday May 17

So be sure to check in to the Hot Off The Press thread from now and throughout the Upfront announcements for complete coverage of what we'll be seeing starting in September.

Wasn't Upfronts in LA last year?

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post #367 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

I thought ABC had done that already.

Not that I'm aware of, the only episodes I see online are actually shows that were shown on tv, nothing new this month at all.
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post #368 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFH View Post

Wasn't Upfronts in LA last year?

You may be thinking of the Television Critics Summer Tour, Antonio. (That is held every July.)

The Upfronts are always in NYC -- it is where the advertising agencies get a first look at the upcoming season from each network.
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post #369 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
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HDTV Notebook
The Weather Channel to Spend $50M on HD
Cable Network to Break Ground on New Studio May 2, Its 25th Anniversary
By Todd Spangler Multichannel News,4/27/2007

In one of the largest capital projects in its history, The Weather Channel expects to spend some $50 million to develop and launch an HD version of its network.

The project includes building a new, 1,100-square-foot studio at its Atlanta headquarters that will be outfitted with HD cameras and other equipment, as well as converting tens of thousands of on-screen graphics for HD, TWC president Debora Wilson said.

We're making major infrastructure investments, Wilson said. We consider this a cost of doing business. The HD channel, she added, will give us a new way to engage our viewers. Weather is so visual.

The network is aiming to have all of its programming in HD by mid-2008. At that point, the standard-definition feed of the channel will be a downconverted version of the HD one.

TWC will break ground on the HD studio May 2, which, not coincidentally, is when the network will mark its 25th anniversary. Wilson said the facility -- adjacent to the existing studio building -- is expected to be finished by January.

The Weather Channel HD will launch with DirecTV in September 2007. However, it won't be true HD at first. Wilson said the direct-broadcast satellite operator will upconvert the standard-definition feed until the network's HD studio comes online.

As for carriage on cable, Wilson declined to provide details but said discussions are ongoing. Every cable operator has a slightly different situation, she added. In general, we're getting a very positive reaction.

Wilson said it's important for TWC to get placement in operators' HD tiers before they get too crowded. She noted that subscribers who have HDTV service tend to stay in the HD neighborhood and don't scan standard-definition channels as frequently.

The channel's live programming accounts for at least 22 hours per day. Prerecorded shows, such as Storm Stories, will also be migrated to HD format. We're right in the sweet spot because at most, we're two hours of prerecorded programming [per day], Wilson said. A lot of networks will have to move to HD piecemeal.

Wilson said the network is examining new ways to present graphics with the move to HD. We'll be fundamentally changing our environment, and this gives us an opportunity to reevaluate and improve our programming, she added.

http://www.multichannel.com/index.as...leID=CA6437614
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post #370 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notebook
Studio 60 Returns

Very, very quietly NBC has let it be known (on the Studio 60 website) the show will be returning.

But not until AFTER the May sweeps.

(This although all the shows which replaced it in the Monday 10 PM timeslot The Black Donnellys, Thank God You're Here and The Real Wedding Crashers all fared worse than the maligned Studio 60 in that time slot.)
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post #371 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Q&A
Ask Matt (from the Ask Matt column at TVGuide.com)
Bones, The Office, Boston Legal and More
By Matt Roush: TVGuide.com TV Critic Friday, April 27, 2007

Question: Several of my favorite shows right now, including Bones and The Office, are based a great deal on whether or not central characters will become romantically involved. Both have handled it differently so far, with Jim declaring his feelings and kissing Pam, while Booth's and Bones' feelings are still simmering under the surface. It seems like the relationship on The Office is progressing faster, but I am worried it will hurt the show. As much as I want Jim and Pam together, they just might be a boring couple. I have heard much talk about how Moonlighting died when the main characters finally hooked up. Did that really cause the demise of the show? Which show do you think has a better chance of creatively surviving the impending couplehood? Debi C.

Matt Roush: Moonlighting's problems went way beyond the will-they-or-won't-they dilemma including production delays and creative and ego clashes but there's no question that the show has become a benchmark for how quickly the joy can diminish once the main characters get it on. Which is why, for this discussion, it seems like it would be a much bigger problem for Bones to take its leads to the next level, when it isn't truly necessary for our enjoyment of the show or for their chemistry. The issue with Moonlighting was that Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd were pretty much the whole show, and once the sexual tension was resolved, there wasn't that much else to fall back on. While it's also true that David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel are Bones' leads, they've got a pretty strong ensemble (with plenty of relationship action, especially the Hodgins-Angela romance) to surround them, which may take some of the urgency off of them actually hooking up. (For the record, I'm not a Bones "'shipper." I actually like it best as one of TV's more clever procedurals.) As for The Office, however, if the Jim-Pam story line plays out, it's not the only reason to watch the show. It may be one of the best reasons, because they're outstanding, and the twists and turns have generated a lot of fan interest. But even if they do officially become a couple and become boring, I'd bet The Office could find a way to make that funny. And possibly sad at the same time. Another look at this subject follows....

Question: I know television creators are taught to live in fear of the dreaded Moonlighting fiasco of getting fan-favorite characters together, but doesn't the opposite hurt a show just as much? Shows like Veronica Mars, in order to keep Veronica and Logan apart, sacrifice character development (and ratings). I also know of people who are getting tired of the Jim-Pam, Pam-Roy runaround on The Office, wishing she'd finally gain a little self-confidence, if nothing else. Veronica Mars only showed the relationship's good moments in brief flashbacks. The X-Files' Chris Carter believed in the Maddie-David cautionary tale, but at least Scully and Mulder evolved emotionally season to season. In some situations, an actual romantic relationship between main characters can be just as entertaining to watch as lust and angst; that's why so many have caught on to Grey's Anatomy. Gilmore Girls went downhill because of writing and plot, not Luke and Lorelai hooking up. What's your take on it? Thanks! Sara

Matt Roush: As with most things, it depends on the show and the situation. Romantic drama and/or comedy is embedded in the premise of shows like Grey's and Veronica, so keeping core characters apart makes no sense. But adding complications to their relationships does, because that's the way of ongoing weekly drama. I'd argue that breaking up Veronica and Logan makes more sense than the way the Lorelai-Luke mess played out because of 1) the characters' respective ages, 2) the age of the shows themselves and 3) the circumstances. Veronica is in many ways a youth noir about a girl living a hard-knock life in terms of social status and love life. It shouldn't be easy for her. Whereas on Gilmore, Lorelai and Luke kept their distance for a good long time, working through a number of relationships before they finally started playing house. I agree that putting them together did not ruin the show. What ruined the show was separating them by a surprise daughter and a surprise proposal, two contrived twists this once-wonderful show has never quite recovered from and which is why I wish it would just gracefully fold tent. As for The X-Files, one of the earliest victims of Internet "'shipper" mania, they mostly got that one right, up until David Duchovny chose to leave and Scully experienced her "miracle" pregnancy. There was no bouncing back from those ill-fated decisions.

Question: I'm a big fan of Boston Legal and am surprised it is not in the top 20. Do you know if ABC is renewing it for another season? Cliff C.

Matt Roush: It may not be a blockbuster, but for ABC's needs, it's doing just fine and has been renewed. ABC announced the show's pickup for next season earlier this spring, in a surprise announcement that included more than a dozen other renewals. The rest of the list: Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, Men in Trees (currently and inexplicably MIA), Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Dancing with the Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Bachelor, America's Funniest Home Videos, Supernanny, Wife Swap and Jimmy Kimmel Live. You'll notice there's not a single half-hour comedy on that list.

Question: The Wire is my favorite show on television, and I think this past season may have been its best! Do you know if there is another season in the works? I am so interested in seeing how the lives of these four young men (all of whom are phenomenal actors, I can't get over how good they are at such a young age) play out. Please tell me it is coming back. Adrienne C.

Matt Roush: HBO renewed The Wire for a fifth and final season, which is great news. But if you know the show, you know it never exactly repeats itself, so while I'm not sure what direction and focus the show will take, I wouldn't necessarily assume that the four young men will be as central to the story as they were last time. I imagine they'll reappear in some context, but David Simon and his writing team typically take on a new institution each season (with the boys, it was Baltimore's education system that came under harsh scrutiny). Not knowing what to expect is always part of the pleasure of The Wire.

Question: I always enjoy hearing your opinion, so I was wondering if you have had the chance to check out Thank God You're Here on NBC. I find it entertaining, and I love that the celebrities are very into it and excited, considering how scary improv must be. Any thoughts on the show? Carrie

Matt Roush: I did give it a short review in the magazine, rating it a 6 out of 10, which seems pretty fair. This isn't the sort of show I tend to seek out, but I'm glad it's there as an entertaining alternative for those in search of a silly good time. It fills a void left when ABC dropped Whose Line Is It Anyway. Your question came on the same day I got a welcome surprise on my voicemail: a greeting from Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) thanking me for my good words. I'd suggested he be a regular, since he pretty much stole the episode I'd screened with his comic verve. He described the experience as "fun and nerve-racking." And to think, he made it look so easy.

Question: Last week you mentioned that NBC wanted to put cost-effective "alternative" programming in the 8 pm/ET slot, by which I presume you mean reality TV and game shows like Deal or No Deal. But doesn't the benefit of reality TV's low production cost get canceled out by the lack of syndication opportunity in the future? Sure, Heroes may be more expensive to produce than Deal or No Deal, but I'll bet that money is made back down the line when it comes time for syndication and DVD sales, which seems to be where the big money is these days. No one's going to watch a rerun of Deal or No Deal. But a daily syndication of Heroes and the Season 1 DVDs will probably make NBC some big cash. Doesn't that balance out the greater production cost? William

Matt Roush: When you've got a hit, you're absolutely right. But as you may have noticed, NBC isn't exactly overstuffed with Heroes-size success stories. Few networks are. The economic reality is that NBC is in a bind it needs to keep overall costs down while balancing a schedule between short-term gains from inexpensive reality/game shows like Deal or No Deal and what it hopes will be a new generation of hits (a slow, risky and costly process). NBC seriously overplayed its hand this season when Jeff Zucker initially announced that scripted shows were for the most part no longer welcome in the 8 pm time period (except on Thursdays), and NBC made perhaps an even bigger blunder this week by placing the tacky The Real Wedding Crashers after Heroes, thus polluting a 10 pm/ET time period with this sort of crud. (Thankfully, it crashed.) All of the networks are in the business of trying to develop hits from which all kinds of back-end revenue flows. But in today's TV world, it's not the only priority. Every network is also looking for the next American Idol/Dancing with the Stars/Survivor/Deal or No Deal as well.

Question: Why does Laura Prepon try to look exactly like Katherine Heigl from Grey's Anatomy? Mary

Matt Roush: Huh? I have no real answer for this except to suggest that it probably comes from starring in perhaps the most painfully derivative show of any sort I've had the bad fortune to come across this season. If October Road had an original thought, it would die of loneliness.

Question: I enjoy your column and generally find myself nodding along to your answers. But not regarding Lisa M.'s letter (and your agreement) about Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock: I have actually kind of missed her, just a teeny tiny bit. I'm not saying she necessarily needs to be in every single episode, and it's true that the character works much better in small doses. I do, however, think there needs to be a Jenna on the show as the traditionally feminine foil to Liz. One of the great layers in 30 Rock is how Liz is a dork who doesn't live up to the standards of femininity that Jenna has so obviously bought into: It's like she didn't get the "How to Be a Girl" handbook. (Like that scene where she's at a singles bar and Jenna tells her, "That guy wanted to buy you a drink," and Liz responds with, "I already have a drink. Do you think he'd buy me mozzarella sticks?") Liz needs to have a "girlie" girl around, and I think Krakowski is plenty funny in the role. As for "TGS," I kind of like how little we see of it. I think overhauling it would be a mistake, especially given how little it's figured into the plot lately except as a backdrop. I guess they could make it into a show that I might conceivably want to watch, but I don't see how that couldn't mean losing Tracy Morgan/Jordan and he is the jewel in 30 Rock's crown, next Alec Baldwin. Since the actual show is more "absurdist workplace comedy" than "show about TV," and is all about Liz struggling against corporate intervention and the dumbing-down of culture, how would you see the improved "TGS" working into it? I'd worry that making Liz happier and more fulfilled would make the show less awesome. Brenda

Matt Roush: All good points. I'm not so much arguing that "TGS" should become the new focus of the show, but it does seem like an avenue to explore further to open the show out a bit. As much as many of us love 30 Rock, I'm not convinced it will survive the sophomore jinx if it doesn't tweak a few things (including the supporting cast) to broaden the show's appeal. Without, of course, dumbing it down.

Question: October Road and Notes from the Underbelly? Why? Also, if ABC can keep something as idiotic as According to Jim on the air, why can't it find a place for a good show such as Men in Trees? Dave

Matt Roush: Oh, dude, why ask why? You want to see a crazed critic fall apart right in front of you? The only upside to Men in Trees' extended absence is that, as it now appears, the remaining episodes of this season will be added to next season's order, and once the show returns, we'll have a longer season of originals than the norm. That doesn't ease the pain now, but it is an upside. If, that is, ABC lets the show run its course next season, unlike this one. And I still can't explain or fathom them just dumping the show like this for the remainder of the season. As for Underbelly, it's just one symptom of a dreadful disease: the so-called ABC comedy. Here's hoping the network will start from scratch in that arena come fall. There's little reason to worry Underbelly will be an issue beyond May, whereas October Road is a more aggravating blemish. It appears to be doing well enough behind Grey's Anatomy that it may well return though let's hope it's on another night and time, where it can fade into obscurity the way What About Brian (an equally tedious but less pandering show) did this season. The best thing I can say about the current 10 pm/ET choices on Thursday (Road, ER and Shark) is that it gives me an earlier start playing back shows I was recording on other channels while watching Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy.

Question: After reading your comments in the 4/23 mailbag on the lack of an end to Gilmore Girls (don't worry, this isn't a Gilmore Girls question), I realized that there may be no big network series finales at all this May. I know The Sopranos is ending, but I don't get HBO and that is a different animal considering its unusual scheduling. Can you remember the last time that happened? It seems like every year there's at least one decent-size finale, whether it be a cult classic like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2003), a huge one like Friends (2004), a pretty big one like Everybody Loves Raymond (2005) or even just a moderately big one like That '70s Show (2006). All of those shows were on for at least six years. This year we've avoided an ER finale and appear to have avoided a Gilmore Girls one as well. 7th Heaven would've been considered big... if it hadn't already happened last year. What do you attribute this to? Is it just a random coincidence, or is it more symptomatic of the fact that more shows are bombing out quickly? I tend to think it's the latter, especially considering that the biggest series finale this year was The O.C., and that was on for only four years. Mark

Matt Roush: While it's no doubt rare to be entering a May sweeps with no significant TV farewells (you make a good point that most of us feel we'd already paid our respects to 7th Heaven a year ago), I would argue that when The Sopranos closes shop in early June, it will be a true pop-culture milestone. The show was incredibly influential in sparking this current age of ambitious TV drama on network and cable, and will be hailed as a benchmark for how to execute a creative vision on television, unfettered by the usual constraints of network programming and policy. One reason this season is curiously devoid of major exits is that networks are increasingly desperate to hold onto their franchises, regardless of how faded they've become, because they fear they'll do even worse without the few familiar touchstones they have left. That's the primary reason ER, Gilmore Girls and even the original Law & Order aren't packing it in. The failure rate for TV shows has always been high. What's relatively new is this stubborn reluctance to let former hits go.

http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Co...01moonlighting
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post #372 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Daily Nielsen Notebook
Thursday's final Nielsen national ratings
(From Travis Yanan) at Marc Berman's Programming Insider blog:
http://pifeedback.com/eve/forums/a/t...4/p/16Thursday Nationals

CSI
9 pm
- 19.628 million viewers
- 11.9/19 HH
- 5.7/15 A18-49

9:30 pm
- 20.884 million viewers
- 12.8/20 HH
- 6.2/15 A18-49
Grey's Anatomy
9 pm
- 19.051 million viewers
- 12.4/19 HH
- 7.9/20 A18-49

9:30 pm
- 21.065 million viewers
- 13.5/21 HH
- 8.9/22 A18-49

Shark (10:01)
- 14.098 million viewers
- 9.2/16 HH
- 3.8/11 A18-49

Survivor
8 pm
- 13.181 million viewers
- 7.8/13 HH
- 4.3/14 A18-49

8:30 pm
- 14.483 million viewers
- 8.4/14 HH
- 4.8/13 A18-49

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?
8 pm
- 8.668 million viewers
- 5.3/9 HH
- 3.0/9 A18-49

8:30 pm
- 11.591 million viewers
- 6.8/11 HH
- 4.0/11 A18-49

Ugly Betty
- 9.616 million viewers
- 6.8/11 HH
- 3.1/9 A18-49

ER (10:01)
- 9.521 million viewers
- 6.2/11 HH
- 3.7/10 A18-49

October Road (10:01)
- 8.997 million viewers
- 6.1/10 HH
- 4.1/12 A18-49

Office
- 7.556 million viewers
- 4.6/7 HH
- 3.9/11 A18-49

My Name is Earl
- 7.490 million viewers
- 4.8/8 HH
- 3.2/10 A18-49

Trading Spouses (9:01)
- 4.758 million viewers
- 3.2/5 HH
- 1.9/5 A18-49

30 Rock
- 4.723 million viewers
- 3.0/5 HH
- 2.4/6 A18-49

Scrubs (9:31)
- 4.650 million viewers
- 3.0/5 HH
- 2.3/6 A18-49

Smallville
- 3.876 million viewers
- 2.5/4 HH
- 1.5/4 A18-49
- 1.7/6 A18-34

Supernatural
- 3.327 million viewers
- 2.1/3 HH
- 1.3/3 A18-49
- 1.3/3 A18-34

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
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post #373 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 05:49 PM
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In the Matt Roush post he addresses The Wire and states (IIRC) that he is unsure of the target this season. I live where he films and it is common knowledge here that the new central "institution" to be woven into the final season is the media - most specifically newspapers (Baltimore Sun). The writer, David Simon, is a former Sun reporter and met his partner Ed Burns while he was a Detective in the Baltimore PD. It seems only appropriate that Simon should skewer the Sun (and media in general) in his final season. So much inside knowledge and so much hypocrisy and juicy internal politics to work with. As usual, I suspect it will mirror the same aspects present in the Police Dept, drug culture and the community. Just in case this wasn't known.

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post #374 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flint350 View Post

In the Matt Roush post he addresses The Wire and states (IIRC) that he is unsure of the target this season. I live where he films and it is common knowledge here that the new central "institution" to be woven into the final season is the media - most specifically newspapers (Baltimore Sun). The writer, David Simon, is a former Sun reporter and met his partner Ed Burns while he was a Detective in the Baltimore PD. It seems only appropriate that Simon should skewer the Sun (and media in general) in his final season. So much inside knowledge and so much hypocrisy and juicy internal politics to work with. As usual, I suspect it will mirror the same aspects present in the Police Dept, drug culture and the community. Just in case this wasn't known.

I'm glad to see that Simon and Burns are hooked up to do something else with HBO, if it's anywhere near the quality of "The Wire", and there's no reason to think it won't be, it should be a good one and I'm definitely looking forward to it.
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post #375 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

You may be thinking of the Television Critics Summer Tour, Antonio. (That is held every July.)

The Upfronts are always in NYC -- it is where the advertising agencies get a first look at the upcoming season from each network.

That's what I was thinking about.

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post #376 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
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It is pretty sad -- and hard for us to fathom - but anyone who thinks the cable giants have HD as a major priority are apparently just kidding themselves.
Take a look at Comcast:
The Digital Revolution
Comcast Goes for a Grand Slam
Its triple play is paying off big-time, and the company is expanding aggressively, with new wireless services, Web sites, and more in the offing

by Olga Kharif Business Week April 27, 2007

Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts used a gift-giving analogy as he reflected on his company's expansion into telephony and high-speed Internet access. On a conference call discussing first-quarter results, Roberts said selling those two products in a package with subscription TVthe so-called triple playis "changing the company and keeps on giving."

Does it ever. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, said it added a record number of high-speed Internet users and signed up more than twice as many phone subscribers as it did a year earlier. Comcast's digital phone service just turned into a $1 billion-a-year business. The gains helped lift sales 32%, to $7.4 billion, and fueled an 80% jump in profit, to $837 million.

Rapid Expansion

But for rivals, Roberts' transformation of Comcast into a telecom provider has a lot to take away. Comcast is on track to leapfrog Vonage as the No.1 nontraditional U.S. phone-service provider, and it's luring a good number of the customers fleeing traditional phone companies like Verizon, whose subscribers are disconnecting local lines at a rate of about 350,000 per quarter. Comcast sells calling to 7% and fast Web services to 26% of the homes in its territory. In the next three to four years, Comcast expects to be selling these services to more than half the homes on its turf.

But Roberts isn't stopping at a triple. He's swinging for the fences by expanding in such markets as small business and adding a range of new products and servicesfrom wireless calling to online entertainment. "We are going to be a very different company in three to four years," says Dave Watson, executive vice-president for operations at Comcast Cable. "We just feel we have this moment in time where we can gain market share and move faster [than others]."

For starters, the company is stepping up efforts to court small and midsize businessesa market that could generate $3.8 billion in sales for Comcast by 2011, up from $660 million now, says David Joyce, an analyst at Miller Tabak. On the conference call, Comcast executives declined to elaborate on their small-business plans, other than to say the company will make a push soon. "It's potentially quite a huge line of business," Joyce says.

Wireless and Online Services

To beef up mobile services, Comcast has begun to offer a wireless service called Pivot in select markets through a joint venture with Sprint Nextel. Comcast has been touting its wireless plans for months, but active marketing is due to begin in some markets within weeks.

Comcast hopes to one-up existing wireless services by incorporating its own strong suit: TV. Comcast customers in a given city, for example, will be able to access local news clips. "You see faces that you know," says John Garcia, president of the joint venture. "We think that's a nice differentiator." The service will also eventually let users retrieve home voice mails, view TV schedules, and control digital video recorders via cell phone.

Another area of growth: online services. Comcast already uses its own site as a portal for such content as E! Entertainment Television. But even though Comcast.net ranks fourth among most-popular destinations for Comcast subscribers, traffic to all Comcast's sites has dropped 5% in the past year, according to comScore Media Metrix, which tracks Web traffic.

Forays Into Content

Comcast hopes to reverse the decline, and go mano a mano with the likes of Google's YouTube and News Corp.'s MySpace for a bigger slice of the U.S. online video advertising market, which according to eMarketer may swell to $3 billion by 2010 from $420 million last year. "It's still a very nascent market, but the company is doing the right thing [by investing in it]," says Tuna Amobi, an analyst at Standard & Poor's, which like BusinessWeek.com is owned by the McGraw-Hill Cos.

As part of its online effort, Comcast on Apr. 16 reached an agreement with News Corp. and NBC to distribute their content and on Apr. 11 bought ticketing site Fandango. Those deals come on the heels of its December launch of GameInvasion.net, an online gaming destination. The company is also trying to lure traffic to user-generated video site Ziddio.com through partnerships with the likes of social-networking powerhouse Facebook.com.

Those and other deals will culminate with the launch later this year of Fancast.com, which will let consumers search, manage, and watch videos, games, and other content across a gamut of devices and channels, including TVs, PCs, and mobile phones. The site may also sell video-on-demand and DVDs.

Acquisitions and Upgrades

But expansion comes at a cost, no less for Comcast than any other corporation. For one, more acquisitions are likely. Some analysts believe Comcast may buy an online movie rental company. Others speculate Comcast will invest in a social network like Facebook. "My assumption is their goal is to build a community around movies and entertainment," says Richard Greenfield, an analyst with Pali Research.

Then there are necessary technology upgrades. Come July 1, Comcast will likely have to furnish subscribers with newer, more expensive set-top boxes that comply with new Federal Communications Commission mandates. And telecom companies including AT&T are upgrading networks with fiber-optic cables that more capably deliver TV and other services than Comcast's system. Analysts say Comcast may need to follow suit with improvements of its own.

And with each stage of the transformation, Comcast will need to ensure that it's communicating its vision with customers, analysts, and investorslest concerns emerge it's spreading itself too thin. "There's still an open question of what Comcast is going to be when it grows up," says Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein.

But based on Comcast's ability to reap gifts and rewards of its expansion so far, some analysts are willing to place their confidence in the Comcast that's emerging. Says Phillip Swann, publisher of TVPredictions.com, "Comcast will just do it faster and better."

http://www.businessweek.com/print/te...427_532335.htm
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post #377 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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The Digital Revolution
Comcast Joins The Party
The cable giant wants a piece of the online video ad boom
By Ronald Grover Business Week
I came home one night recently to find my wife engrossed in an episode of Grey's Anatomyon her computer. My 22-year-old daughter wonders aloud if we still need a TiVo to record episodes of her latest fave, ABC's Notes from the Underbelly, now that it's available at ABC.com. If you have any doubts about whether the age of online TV viewing has arrived, just spend an evening at my place.

Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, seems to know all too well that what is happening under my roof isn't that unusual anymore. Since the beginning of April the company, which generates most of its $25 billion a year in revenues by delivering TV over cable, has signed a flurry of deals designed to allow it to do battle with the likes of Yahoo!, MSN, and others that intend to stream TV shows to folks' computers. It struck deals with CBS, Fox and NBC to deliver their TV shows through Comcast's soon-to-be-launched Fancast online site. It plunked down tens of millions of dollars to buy Fandango, with a notion to turn the online ticketing site into a guide to TV shows available online.

For Comcast, this sure looks like a change in strategy. Three years ago it was so hungry to add programming muscle that it was willing to pony up $54 billion to buy Disney. Now it seems desperate to join the Internet party and not be left out of the ad boom surrounding online video. Little wonder: After cable stocks' bullish run last year, investors are more nervous about the industry's prospects these days. Comcast shares are down about $3, to 27, from this year's high.

BECAUSE OF ITS HEFT, COMCAST was imbued with a culture that encouraged executives to be fearsome when striking deals. But that may be changing as well, as the Internet threat seems to have turned Comcast into a pussycat for anyone with content. "We did our deal in 24 hours, I kid you not," says Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive. Indeed, it looked like Comcast was ready to make a deal with anyone right after NBC and Fox announced on Mar. 22 that they would license their content to Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and MySpace.com. Gone are the days when Comcast could demand special concessions, like getting free use of TV shows for its video-on-demand service. "Comcast understands that good quality network content is what keeps people sticking around their site," says NBC Digital President George Kliavkoff. "They need us."

What Comcast, with its 12 million broadband subscribers, is hoping to create is the granddaddy of online TV networks, under the name Fancast.com. Comcast President Steve Burke says it "will become a big business for us" in the fast-growing but, for media outfits, largely untapped world of online advertising. Advertising represents just 10% of Comcast's revenues.

Burke has fancy plans to lure Web-surfing TV fans to Fancast when it launches this summer. A search engine powered by Fandango will identify shows consumers like and ship them to a digital videorecorder for TV watching. "We believe people still want the lean-back experience of watching TV on a big screen," says Burke. Comcast had better hurry. A ton of folks are already watching their favorites online, including Xbox Live users who have shows like CSI and South Park delivered online to a tv hooked up to their consoles.

With 24 million TV subscribers, Comcast is still one of the most powerful distributors of entertainment. But its growth of late has been driven largely by selling telephone and Internet services. When those businesses mature, the last thing Comcast wants is to look up and see a world where 20-year-olds skip ESPN to watch sports online or forgo Law and Order in favor of cop shows streamed from Steve Jobs' Apple TV. No, we're not yet near a time when folks desert cable TV in droves to watch Sanjaya on their cell phones. But cable moguls have known for years that couch potatoes simply don't want 80% of what is jammed onto their dials. They want their TV in ways they can manage, on a time schedule that is their own. Just ask my wife.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...9/b4033035.htm
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post #378 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
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A reminder:

If you really love to discuss and peruse ratings, you really should try this website:

http://entertainmentnow.wordpress.com/

RussTC3, who often contributes here, puts a lot of work into his site.

Admittedly, he isn't the fastest to supply the daily numbers, but his insights into what the numbers mean -- and what trends they are predicting -- are often way ahead of other so-called experts.

So put the link into your bookmarks and then go see what he has to say when you are in the mood to look at prime time ratings.

Personally, I try to check in daily.
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post #379 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 07:58 PM
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TV Notebook
Studio 60 Returns

Very, very quietly NBC has let it be known (on the Studio 60 website) the show will be returning.

But not until AFTER the May sweeps.

HOORAY!!!

Seriously, I've been mostly bed-ridden for the past two days nursing the mother of all colds and this has literally made me jump up and down in my sweat-soaked PJ's. Yes, yes, YES! There is a God in TV land that granted my never-spoken wish to at least see one episode of "Studio 60" in HD before NBC cancels it. I am human after all, and I can finally be thankful to say that I AM ALIVE!!! (and hopefully will be when "Studio 60" episodes start airing in less than a month)!
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post #380 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notebook

Coming soon to a Sci Fi Channel near you

By David Kronke Los Angeles Daily News Television Critic in his The Mayor Of Television blog April 27, 2007

Just as Adult Swim did yesterday, the Sci Fi Channel announced three new programs debuting this summer, leaving us no choice but to make fun of them.

"Flash Gordon"
(premieres August 10), unfortunately, has nothing to do with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder's climactic figure-skating sequence in Blades of Glory; instead, it's yet another take on the old comic strip about space adventurers exploring planets and battling an evildoer who goes by the moniker of Ming the Merciless. Wouldn't it be great if people still went by names like that? Get to it, Kim Jong-il.

"Destination Truth" (premieres June 6) is Ghost Hunters, only with different guys and a much better travel budget - they trek to Malaysia, Chile, Argentina and Papua, New Guinea in search of mythical monsters. (I can see the show's tagline: We get paid handsomely to fail.) They also go to Thailand, but I'm not sure I want to know what they get up to over there.

Derren Brown Project (premieres July 25) has yet to be titled, but at least they know who's going to star in it: British mentalist Derren Brown, who, per Sci Fi, knows your mind better than you do. In the case of people who buy into this stuff, I'm not so sure that's so difficult. How about for the title At Least It's Not That Hack John Edward?

Those last two shows remind me how odd it is that the Sci Fi Channel airs reality shows (or, perhaps I have it all backwards, and all reality shows belong on the Sci Fi Channel). Your assignment: Cook up a reality series for Sci Fi; they've told me they'll actually produce the best entry (well, actually, they haven't returned my calls, but I'm sure it's a slam dunk).

http://www.insidesocal.com/tv/
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post #381 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
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TV Notebook
Lifetime looks to reality-TV guru for revival
By Phil Rosenthal Chicago Tribune Media Columnist April 27, 2007

The executive who nurtured the reality shows "Dancing with the Stars," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "The Bachelor" for Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC has scored a Lifetime achievement honor.

Andrea Wong is getting the top job at Lifetime, which is co-owned by Disney and Hearst Corp.

Of course, Wong also shepherded "Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People," a crass exercise in superficiality, and "Welcome to the Neighborhood," a show that was preemptively canceled less than two weeks before its scheduled debut amid accusations it was tone deaf to bigotry.

But that's not the kind of content she's expected to churn out as president and chief executive of Lifetime Entertainment Services -- overseeing all of the day-to-day operations for Lifetime Television, LMN, Lifetime Real Women and Lifetime Digital -- a post to which she was named Thursday.

But how will the woman who has been boss to late-night talker Jimmy Kimmel, former host of "The Man Show," do as head of a female-oriented operation?

Wong replaces Betsy Cohen, co-founder of Cartoon Network, who resigned from Lifetime on Wednesday, just a day after making an upbeat, upfront sales presentation for the women's network to advertisers and the press.

Lifetime used to be the most-watched cable network among women and men. It's now No. 8. Cohen's two years on the job were marked by the 23-year-old network's first revenue decline, ratings slippage and an inability to develop new hits, an area in which Wong's ability to judge the audience's pulse rate is seen as a huge asset.

A decade ago, Wong was executive assistant to Bob Iger, then president of ABC and now Disney's president and chief executive. She got her start at ABC in 1993 as a researcher on "Primetime Live."

She took on a vice president title in 1997, took over alternative series in 1998 (helping to get the meteoric megahit "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" on the air) and eventually rose in 2004 to the rank of ABC Entertainment's executive vice president of alternative programming, specials and late-night, largely on her success with reality TV.

Sometimes she needed to be sold. Three times she turned away BBC reps trying to sell her a celebrity ballroom dancing show before being convinced to sit down and watch a whole episode of the British version. She wound up so captivated by "Dancing with the Stars" that she ordered every speck of glitter and every sequin be imported.

That worked out pretty well.

Wong will need some of that same skill, gut feeling or whatever if Lifetime is to rebound. In its targeted demographic of women 18 to 49, Lifetime was down 17 percent last year. And the rebranding under Cohen -- from "Television for Women" to "My Story is on Lifetime" -- was a bust.

Disney Media Networks co-chairman Anne Sweeney said Wong is "a straight shooter, who is smart enough to know which challenges to undertake and fearless enough to see them through." In all fairness, however, it's worth pointing out that, before Cohen's arrival, it had been two years since Lifetime had approved a new original series, meaning the cupboard was bare.

By comparison, Wong takes over Lifetime as it plans to launch three Sunday night dramas this summer. But the challenge she faces will be the same Cohen struggled with, namely how to attract young viewers without repelling the older viewers it now has.

That's going to take some pretty fancy footwork.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...8,print.column
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post #382 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
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(Note to dad1153:

Glad I could brighten a day for you.)
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post #383 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

A reminder:

Friday night at 9 PM ET/PT is the finale of Raines on NBC.

The episode was written by the son of frequent Hot Off The Press contributor jandron.

So tune in!

Well, I give up. It was another top flight episode. I just don't understand why it didn't make it. Jeff Goldblum play it with enough quirkiness to make Raines an interesting character. I don't suppose there is any interest in one of the cable networks picking this up?
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post #384 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post

I'm glad to see that Simon and Burns are hooked up to do something else with HBO, if it's anywhere near the quality of "The Wire", and there's no reason to think it won't be, it should be a good one and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Maybe I misled you, but I was talking about The Wire's upcoming final season - not a different/new show by Simon and Burns. It just appeared that Matt Roush was unsure of the new central theme and I was trying to explain what it will be. Sorry for any confusion.

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"You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place." -Jonathan Swift
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post #385 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by flint350 View Post

Maybe I misled you, but I was talking about The Wire's upcoming final season - not a different/new show by Simon and Burns. It just appeared that Matt Roush was unsure of the new central theme and I was trying to explain what it will be. Sorry for any confusion.

No, I got that, I've followed Simon's work from the time he was in print only, I just figured I throw that part about a new Simon project out there in case anyone was unaware of it.
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post #386 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

(Note to dad1153:

Glad I could brighten a day for you.)

Actually it was RockyF's post of the Futon Critic story that made my jump up and down. But you told me that the guy that runs Futon Critic and you are mortal enemies and never to post anything from his website on your thread, so I went with your headline instead. But it doesn't matter because all that we need to know is that "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" returns to the air Thursday May 24 at 10PM after sweeps ends. Does this mean "Studio 60" would be in the ironic position of airing episodes critical of the TV industry after the network hosting it has already cancelled it a couple of weeks early?

Ohh who the hell cares??!!

HOORAY!!!
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post #387 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I am not a mortal enemy of futon critic.

It has some good info. But I hate to repost stuff from pure websites -- headlines and a few paragraphs are OK, then a link. But I prefer to repost stories and columns more or less complete.

My only complaint about FC is that it totally closes down on weekends.
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post #388 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

I'd love to have heard those discussions. Sorkin's gotta' be Sorkin and the brilliance comes with baggage, and an agenda. It's an agenda I happen to heartily endorse, so it never bothered me.

Yeah, I like his agenda too, but I just didn't buy the context.

I would love to see a Sorkin show about ... investigative journalism. The great thing about The West Wing was that it reminded us of what we want our politicians to be like. I need to see the same things with journalists... not people involved in a sketch comedy show. I need to see people involved in a sketch comedy show dealing with their geekiness.

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post #389 of 98226 Old 04-27-2007, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
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That would be a good premise for a Sorkin show, xnappo.

A major problem with "Studio 60", it seems to me is that there is no underlying drama. We had it with "West Wing" -- the fate of the world.

But the fate of these characters who inhabit a TV show just isn;t that compelling. Investigative journalism could be a good way to examine Sorkin's agenda -- but also to have some real issues dealt with, rather than just spoken about.
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post #390 of 98226 Old 04-28-2007, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
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The 2007-2008 Season
CBS offers unique new schedule
Network shifts slate from crime to creeps
By Josef Adalian Variety

The network known for its solid, stable schedule is now looking to add another "s"-word to its programming vocabulary: sexy.

Poised to finish a fifth consecutive season as TV's most-watched net, CBS execs could have easily ordered up more of the meat-and-potatoes crime dramas that put them on top. Instead, they've assembled a development slate filled with the sort of swing-for-the-fences ideas normally associated with a net desperately plotting a comeback.

There are still plenty of dead bodies in the Eye's future. But this year, the corpses are taking the form of zombies, vampires and demons.

"We went into this development season saying, 'Let's throw out the rulebook'," says CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler. "We have an incredibly strong schedule. What better time to take risks ... and try some really surprising and unique projects?"

Tassler also knows that, despite the Eye's solid standing, its schedule is populated by aging hits, from "Survivor" and "Two and a Half Men" to Thursday night signature skein "CSI."

While newer shows such as "Criminal Minds," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Rules of Engagement" have added fresh blood to the lineup, what CBS really needs as it challenges Fox for demo supremacy is a big, splashy hit that attracts both young adults and advertisers.

THE STRATEGY

The challenge for Tassler is refreshing the sked without exploding the CBS brand, alienating the net's loyal core in the process.

Nobody at the net wants a repeat of 1995, when CBS tried to get real young, real fast with twentysomething sudser "Central Park West." Effort bombed, leaving the net with even fewer viewers -- young or old.

Luckily, what the CBS sked lacks in sizzle it makes up for in breadth. Eye has at least one success story every night of the week, and very few black holes.

"We need new hits just like everybody else, but the difference is, I think we've got a better support system to (launch) those new hits than the other guys," argues CBS scheduling and strategy supremo Kelly Kahl.

While Kahl and other CBS execs refuse to discuss even hypothetical sked moves in advance of the upfronts, the net's needs are obvious.

Tuesday at 10 remains wide open, following the net's back-to-back fall flops ("Smith," "3 Lbs."). Wednesdays could also see some change, perhaps with an hour of comedy.

"We went into (development) season saying we would love to open up another night of comedy," Tassler says, declining to say just what nights might be in play.

On Thursdays, CBS has to decide whether to keep the decently performing "Shark" behind "CSI," or use the prime real estate for something splashier. It might even do both, choosing to have two shows share the slot.

Most insiders consider "Close to Home" a goner on Fridays despite decent ratings, opening up an hour on the night. And while "Amazing Race" might return for another cycle, there's a good shot CBS will use 8 p.m. Sundays to try out a new show.

THE PLAYERS

Most years, a Joel Silver-produced drama about a private eye who also happens to be a vampire would easily qualify as the Eye's "out there" pilot. But this spring, "Twilight" is just one of several shows that might make Tassler's traditional-leaning boss Leslie Moonves go "hmmmmm" when he screens them.

On the fantasy/sci-fi side, "Babylon Fields" is an hour Tassler describes as " 'Ordinary People' meets 'Day of the Living Dead.' " In other words, yes, there are zombies -- but the show's also about personal relationships, and what happens when the ex-wife you thought was dead suddenly is back in your life.

Then there's "Demons," the Joe Roth-produced drama from "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall. It's about a priest waging war with Satan on more than one front.

More grounded (well, sort of) contenders include "Swingtown," a drama set in the 1970s that explores what happens to families when couples swap partners.

There's also "Viva Laughlin," a new take on a Blighty series about a Nevada casino owner who's flying by the seat of his pants. The upshot: Every once in a while, the characters break out in song.

As far-out as some of the drama concepts might seem, Tassler cautions that there's not as much difference as there might seem between these new ideas and, say, "CSI."

"Within even our more outrageous choices, there is at the core a relatability," she says. "That's a significant part of all our shows. They need to have characters that are flawed, that are identifiable. Audiences have to be able to look at a character or circumstances and say, 'That could be me, or that is someone I know.' "

Eye's mandate to innovate extends even to more common ideas. There's an untitled legal drama starring comic thesp Janeane Garafalo, and crime-themed possibilities toplined by LL Cool J and Stephen Dorff.

"Even with shows that seemed like more traditional franchises, we enthusiastically went after elements that would surprise," Tassler says.

Eye is also aggressively looking to find some desperately needed reality hits. Having started the reality craze with "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," it hasn't launched an unscripted smash since.

Tassler says bringing back Ghen Maynard to oversee the net's reality slate has resulted in a slew of new concepts. She won't talk details, but industry insiders say Maynard has more than 15 possible players in the mix.

Some, like Mark Burnett's "Pirate Master," will get an early launch in the summer.

Comedy-wise, CBS continues to have plenty of multicamera options -- but it's also venturing into single-cam territory with the provocatively titled "Fugly" (which may be eventually get a new name), a half-hour about siblings who move to Hollywood.

There's also "1321 Clover," a family comedy that will be shot documentary style.

Also getting some buzz is "I'm in Hell," both for its star (Jason Biggs) and its concept (selfish man dies and literally gets a new lease on life). And Chuck Lorre, creator of the Eye's top-rated "Two and a Half Men," has teamed with Bill Prady for "The Big Bang Theory," in which Average Joes get to hook up with very hot women.

THE QUESTION MARKS

Toughest decision facing CBS suits is what to do with "Jericho," the spooky Wednesday drama that's got a decent dose of buzz but just so-so ratings. Execs have been pleased with its creative direction, so it'll be interesting to see how much patience the usually trigger-happy net has with a show it loves.

Another show with some critical support, laffer "The Class," is a much longer shot. Its fate almost certainly rides on whether CBS decides to air comedies on a night other than Monday.

And, since CBS hasn't actually picked up any shows for next season (save for two more editions of "Survivor"), a bunch of its shows remain (technically) on the bubble: "The Unit," "Old Christine" and even "How I Met Your Mother."

THE BOTTOM LINE

Given how heavily it's invested in riskier fare, change is almost certainly coming to CBS this fall. The real question will be how much of Tassler's slate gets the go-ahead from CBS Corp. supremo Moonves.

Moonves is proudly old-school when it comes to programming. But after some initial cautiousness about new media, the exec has transformed the Eye into one of the market leaders when it comes to embracing new technologies.

Whatever choices the net makes, Tassler thinks CBS is ready to evolve.

"We really have the strength and flexibility to really look at adding some surprising elements to the schedule this year," she says.

http://www.variety.com/index.asp?lay...&categoryid=14
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