Some TV Notes:
(from the New York Daily News)http://www.nydailynews.com/business/...p-207445c.htmlDobbs may get prime time slot
Thursday, October 14th, 2004
Veteran financial news anchor Lou Dobbs could be getting a more high profile perch at CNN as the Time Warner-owned cable network looks to boost its ratings, network insiders said.
CNN's top brass is considering moving the fast-rising "Lou Dobbs Tonight," from 6 p.m. to prime time.
"It's being discussed," a CNN exec told the Daily News.
Any move would be made after the November elections. A new slot for Dobbs has yet to be determined, CNN sources said.
"With the presidential election less than a month away, it's silly to speculate on programing changes," said CNN spokesman Matthew Furman. Dobbs declined comment.
Elevating the longtime CNN anchor would mark CNN's latest effort to shore-up in the face of a continuing assault from Fox News, which boasts nearly double CNN's audience.
Dobbs has struck a chord with his vocal crusade against U.S. companies moving jobs overseas. Since the beginning of the summer, ratings for "Lou Dobbs Tonight" have surged 25% to 472,000 households. Dobbs is outpacing CNN overall, which is up 13%.
Ad rates for Dobbs' show are among the net's highest.
"He's the most familiar financial news personality on television," said Horizon Media director of research Brad Adgate.
But shifting Dobbs from his current place at the end of the business day presents risks. "The prime-time audience has a different mind-set," said Tom Rosentiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
And it's unclear whether Dobbs would be interested in a new gig, CNN insiders said.
Disney No. 2 Bob Iger's shot at nabbing the Disney CEO post is gaining momentum with the surprisingly strong turnaround at ABC, Disney investors said yesterday. Iger, who used to run ABC and was charged with turning it around has long been weighed down by its dismal performance.
But thanks to a stellar start for ABC shows "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," Iger's situation is suddenly looking the opposite of desperate.
"The biggest argument against Bob is now vastly improving," said Anthony Valencia, an analyst at TCW Group, a Disney shareholder.
Still, Disney execs have been telling investors they're cautious about ABC's prospects. "They're not proclaiming victory yet," said Angela Kohler, an analyst at Federated Investors.
Meanwhile, ABC's resurgence is boosting Disney stock. It's jumped 10% in two weeks, up 17 cents yesterday at $25.01.
The situation is the reverse for NBC. It's seen double digit ratings losses so far this season. The once dominant force on the TV screen is losing to CBS on the Thursday nights it once owned, and has had a bunch of disappointing shows , including the expensive animated show "Father of the Pride."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jeff Zucker on the hot seat at NBChttp://www.nypost.com/business/20160.htm
By TIM ARANGO , New York Post
October 14, 2004 -- Move over Bob Iger and make way for Jeff Zucker.
With ABC's ascendance in the network television ratings, Disney's Iger has for the moment sidestepped the scrutiny that dogged him for the last several years for overseeing ratings-challenged ABC.
Zucker, meanwhile, NBC's golden child and heir apparent to NBC chief Bob Wright, now finds himself on the hot seat with the once high-flying network's ratings decline.
"If you're the person who's been put in charge, the spotlight is going to fall on you for good or ill," said media buyer Bill Carroll, of Katz Television Group.
In the fall season to date, NBC has seen its ratings in the key 18-49 demographic fall 16 percent, while CBS has seen an 11 percent jump and ABC has seen a gain of 3 percent.
When NBC execs announced in May that they had closed their blockbuster merger with Vivendi's Universal, the company trotted out a lucrative extension to keep airing Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" series.
But even "Law & Order" no longer dominates its Wednesday night time slot, lagging behind CBS's new hit "CSI: NY."
"I think everyone believed that ["CSI: NY"] was going to be good competition but that "Law & Order" would continue to be the leading show on Wednesday night at 10 p.m.," Carroll said.
An NBC spokeswoman said the network is pleased with the performance of such primetime shows such as "The Apprentice," "ER," "SVU," "Medical Investigation," "Joey" and "Las Vegas."
"Of course, ABC has launched a couple of very impressive hits and CBS has turned "CSI" into a red-hot franchise, so we know it's going to be a tough three-way race all season long," the spokeswoman said.
Zucker, who had been president of NBC Entertainment, was given additional responsibilities in the merged company, and was given the title of group president for entertainment, news and cable. He added responsibility for NBC News and cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, and remains president of NBC Entertainment.
Among his missteps were paying roughly $2.5 million to DreamWorks to air the animated show "Father of the Pride," which has bombed.
He also reportedly turned down the show "Desperate Housewives," which has gone on to be a hit for ABC.
Still, there are those who say Zucker's exalted status remains secure, at least for the moment.
These people point out the remarkable run NBC has had over the years with hits such as "Seinfeld," "Friends" and "Frasier" and note that NBC remained on top far longer than most expected.
"I think he's still the heir apparent," said Peter Olsen, senior vice president for national broadcast at Mediacom.
"I don't think this takes anything away from his golden boy status."
An NBC insider said the company's top brass, including Wright and GE chief Jeff Immelt, have confidence in Zucker.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------Who's really the star of 'Boston Legal'(Yes, it's that old ham bone, William Shatner)http://www.medialifemagazine.com/new...2thursday.html
By Ed Robertson, MediaLife.com
David E. Kelley is one of those dark semi-geniuses of television whose mystery has as much to do with his failures as his successes. He fails brilliantly. Then there are those flashes, and one certainly is with Boston Legal, the new show morphed from his long-troubled "The Practice." It's a matter of brilliant casting.
But we are not talking about James Spader, who plays Alan Shore, the ethics-challenged lawyer Kelley introduced last season. We're talking about William Shatner, the ex "Star-Trekker" and odd-ball spokesman for Priceline who plays Denny Crane, the daffy defense attorney whom Kelley also introduced in The Practice's final season.
Call Shatner what you will: a ham, a lightweight, an ubiquitous shill for Priceline. You'd be right on each count. Shatner hasn't really been challenged as an actor since the early days of Star Trek.
But Shatner knows how to entertain. He also has the kind of vast, built-in audience that producers, network executives and potential sponsors all love to see when it comes to developing a TV series.
Star vehicles rarely work in television, but character vehicles do. We've seen this time and again. Back in 1974, for example, Roy Huggins built The Rockford Files around James Garnerand specifically, the actor's portrayal of the reluctant hero type he originated on Maverickbecause he knew that Garner's success with that character would resonate with viewers. It did, and Rockford ran for six seasons on NBC.
Thirty years later, we see Kelley doing the same thing with Shatner on Boston Legal.
As Denny Crane, Shatner is basically playing off the self-parodying image he has crafted for himself in recent years, both in the Priceline commercials as well as his live appearances on the sci-fi convention circuit. That image is that of a vainglorious actor who is nonetheless likeable because he doesn't seem to take himself seriously.
Kelley has masterfully taken that characterization of Shatner and used it to drive the main storyline on Boston Legal.
The wily yet eccentric Crane is considered a joke among his own colleagues, to the point that senior partner Paul Lewiston (an image-conscious sniveler played by René Auberjonois) has been plotting to drive Crane out of his own firm.
In this past Sunday's episode, Crane appears to play right into Lewiston's hands when his questionable behavior toward a female plaintiff in a deposition leads to possible sanctions against the firm. Much to Lewiston's dismay, Crane proves to the court that he's not a man to be underestimated. Not only does he argue successfully against the sanctions, he wins the case outright.
Similarly, it's easy to dismiss Boston Legal as lighthearted, ethereal fare. After all, we are talking about William Shatner. Yet that perception actually works in the show's favor.
Viewers familiar with Shatner's shtick won't expect high art, only to be entertained, a much lesser burden of proof. That gives the show a tremendous potential upside that has already paid early dividends. The premiere of Boston finished in the top 20 among households.
Like Crane, Shatner is the ultimate survivor, having bounced back in his career more times than a Superball. When he hit a dry spell in the 70s, he went back to Star Trek, lending his voice to the animated series before signing on for the theatrical movies. When the Star Trek movies began to pigeonhole him in the 80s, he returned to television as the star of T.J. Hooker.
T.J. Hooker was certainly over the top, but Shatner's intensity made it fun to watch, in much the same way as the actor's personality makes his portrayal of Denny Crane fun to watch.
Then, after lampooning sci-fi fans in the infamous Get a life sketch on Saturday Night Live, Shatner turned around and embraced the convention circuit in the 90s. Along the way, he even poked fun at himself by writing a book called Get a Life.
Yet for all his comic skills, Shatner brings a depth to Crane that is surprisingly effective, as evidenced in the scene near the end of last Sunday's episode in which he confides in young associate Brad Chase (Mark Valley of Keen Eddie). Though his outward bluster suggests otherwise, Crane admits to Chase that he is well aware that rivals such as Lewiston are eager to see him fall.
Shatner has no shortage of detractors in the TV industry, many of whom would probably like to see him fall in Boston Legal.
It's to Kelley's credit that he could create a role that captures Shatner's full range as an actor. And to pair him with a capable, if far prettier, actor like Spader. In his unending search for the quirky, Kelley may have found just the right mix of tics to match his own.