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Hot Off The Press! The Latest Television News and Info - Page 157  

post #4681 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Review:

'Prison Break': Sharpen Up Those Spoons

By Tom Shales Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, August 29, 2005; C01

Fox, let's face it, has a slight sadistic streak. How else to explain the network's obsession with starting the new TV season earlier and earlier each year? Of course, "new TV season" has been an anachronistic term for a decade or so -- what with cable and broadcast shows coming and going at virtually any time -- but when the early birds are as punishingly junky as Fox's "Prison Break," it's only natural to suspect some sort of vendetta at work.

An old industry cliche maintains that "no one sets out to make a bad TV show," but it's certainly the easiest explanation for something as pitifully awful as this thing.

"Prison Break" deals with a vast and sinister conspiracy and also appears to be part of one. It's 3-B TV: Boring Beyond Belief, a hideous hybrid that even Fox publicity admits is an attempt to clone at least three movies -- "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Longest Yard" and "The Great Escape." Perhaps we should admire that kind of candor; back in the 20th century, networks didn't run around openly boasting that their shows were unauthorized imitations.

Potential network slogan: "At Fox, we rip off only the best!"

Even if it had an original bone in its body, though, "Prison Break" -- premiering at 8 tonight on Channel 5 -- would come off as more cruel than unusual. The somber pretentiousness of it, reinforced by performances uniformly overwrought, make it a heavy weight to bear, yet one resolutely empty-headed.

The gimmick implicit in the title is that the drama concerns a young man who breaks into prison, not out of it, in an effort not only to liberate his brother from death row but also to expose a far-flung national conspiracy that involves the Secret Service, the vice president, a model of the Taj Mahal apparently made out of Popsicle sticks, and loose toilet bolts distributed by the Schweitzer Plumbing Co. of Aurora, Ill.

Talk about your tangled webs! The presence of high-ranking government officials in the plot suggests -- strongly -- that "Prison Break" has a more than nodding resemblance to Fox's own "24" in addition to all those other striking similarities. But then how could a network have any pride if it didn't rip off itself as well as raiding the opposition?

In a semi-spooky prologue, the prisoner-to-be -- Wentworth Miller as structural engineer Michael Scofield -- visits a tattoo parlor for the application of a magnum opus all over his body. We only glimpse details, and Fox has asked critics not to reveal the tattoo's contents; it will figure in the plot about 700 miles down the road. First Scofield has to get himself arrested for holding up a bank (a scene as ludicrously staged as the funny-on-purpose codger robberies of Martin Brest's "Going in Style"), sentenced to the same Joliet, Ill., prison where his brother awaits the grim reaper, and convince the perky prison physician (Sarah Wayne Callies) that he has diabetes.

Why diabetic? Fox has not asked critics not to reveal the reason for that, too. It would just be wasting even more of your time to reveal it. You have better things to do, like decide what to watch instead of "Prison Break" at 8 o'clock tonight.

The Joliet prison is well stocked with slammer cliches whose origins go all the way back to the days when James Cagney, George Raft and Humphrey Bogart were doing time at Warner Bros. Nobody says, "Come and get me, copper!" but there are elements just as familiar and corny.

Miller's performance as Scofield may not be the worst in the series, but since Miller is hardly ever off-screen, it's easily the most oppressive. The actor apparently thinks it looks cool for him always to be scanning the surroundings as if he were a suspicious owl, his eyelids at half-mast as he squints into nooks and crannies. Miller sports one of those fashionable stubble cuts not on his face but on his skull; it evokes the young Jerry Lewis as he appeared in service comedies like "At War With the Army." If only "Prison Break" had stolen more from that picture and less from the other ones.

Stacy Keach, as Warden Pope, is about the only actor who escapes from the debacle with dignity, but it's the warden who's building the model of the Taj Mahal, and you have to wonder how Keach kept from laughing during scenes in which he asks for Miller's help in building the tiny Taj.

The prison population is naturally divided along ethnic lines and into gangs or cabals or bridge clubs or whatever. Miller displays a surprising indifference to making friends or influencing people, to forming alliances with any of the various factions, though you'd assume that would make his difficult task easier. His cloddishness carries a terrible cost: the little toe on his left (or was it right?) foot. Yes, the pinky-toe made immortal by a particularly hilarious episode of "Seinfeld," the toe that went "wee wee wee wee wee wee wee all the way home."

Bad guys snip the toe off artfully at the end of an episode; there's a cut -- meaning an edit -- and the screen goes black, so we get the shock value of the violence without having to see gore. Ah, but that kind of restraint and inventiveness apparently didn't sit well with the producers of "Prison Break" or the Fox executives in charge of it. So the very next episode begins with a reprise of the amputation, this time in graphic detail, blood spewing hither and yon while Miller screams in agony.

Any viewer who's made it that far into "Prison Break" is bound to be in agony, too, if not quite the scream-worthy kind. No, no screaming, just stupefied mortification. An apparently evil Secret Service agent had said consolingly to a colleague earlier in the first episode, "Look, three months, it'll all be over" -- but if sanity prevails, it'll all be over much more quickly than that.
post #4682 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Sister Cable Nets to Repurpose All 6 New NBC Series

By Jon Lafayette TVWeek.com (Christopher Lisotta contributed to this report.)

NBC Universal plans to give all six of its new prime-time NBC shows extra exposure on its cable channels at the beginning of their runs this fall.

"Surface" will get play on Sci Fi Channel; "E-Ring" and "Three Wishes" will be repurposed on USA Network; "My Name Is Earl" and "Inconceivable" will run on Bravo; and "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" will get a berth on CNBC.

"Clearly, we want to get as much attention and as much sampling as possible for our fall shows," said Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal cable entertainment, digital content and cross-network strategy. "What we're able to do with cable assets combined with a network is play the strategies of both and mix them up."

NBC Universal has the rights to repurpose these programs on any of its platforms, Mr. Gaspin said.

During the first three weeks of the season, episodes of "Surface," a family adventure series about a mysterious new form of undersea life, will debut in the series' regular time period at 8 p.m. Mondays on NBC, then the same episodes will get additional airings on Sci Fi.

During the fourth week of the season, Sci Fi will run a "Surface" marathon in prime time, a strategy Mr. Gaspin said NBC has used successfully in cable, most recently with Bravo's "Project Runway."

"You see it a lot in cable, where shows don't start that strongly, and after three weeks go by you start marathoning the episodes," he said. "People get to catch up, and then by episode four it spikes." After a modest start, "Project Runway's" ratings in week six were triple its launch number, he said.

He added that when the shows run on cable, they will contain promos that ensure viewers know that the program regularly can be found on NBC.

The repurposing is not planned to last beyond the first four weeks of the season.

"Then you start getting into the exclusivity value," Mr. Gaspin said.

Repurposing used to be a touchy subject because networks and their affiliates believed that a strong bond between program and channel was paramount. But now, Mr. Gaspin said, viewers have adapted and no longer get confused if a show winds up on a different channel.

Affiliates also favor this kind of repurposing as long as "the ultimate goal is to create a hit series for the network," he said.

Mr. Gaspin said that if an NBC show provides one of the cable networks with a significant ratings increase, the length of the run could be "reconsidered." But keeping them on cable was unlikely. "This is not about trying to help out the cable nets. This is the cable nets helping out the network," he said.

NBC is not the only network running its shows on its cable siblings. Fox will run a "Prison Break" marathon on cable channel FX. The marathon is designed to help viewers catch up with the series after its hiatus for the World Series. It will also give viewers who didn't watch the first episodes a second chance to sample the show.

Here is the cable schedule for the repurposed NBC shows:

The premiere episode of "Surface," which is produced by NBC Universal Television Studio, will be seen on Sci Fi on Tues., Sept. 20, at 11 p.m. The same episode will appear Fri., Sept. 23, at 6 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 25, at 11 p.m. The second episode will appear on Sci Fi on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 11 p.m. and the first two episodes will be shown Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The third episode will air Tues., Oct. 4, at 11 p.m., and Oct. 9 at midnight.

During the fourth week, Sci Fi will show all four episodes from 7-11 p.m. Oct. 11. On Oct. 16, it will show episodes three and four.

Sci Fi also helped promote "Surface" with a special that looked at the special effects used on the series.

USA will run the first episode of "Three Wishes," produced by Glassman Media and NUTS and hosted by Amy Grant, on Sept. 29 at midnight. The cable network will run the second episode on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. The reality series' regular time period on NBC is Fridays at 9 p.m.

"E-Ring," the Pentagon action drama from Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. Television starring Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper, is slated for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC and will appear Sept. 24 on USA at midnight.

USA has also been running a 1%BD;-minute trailer for NBC's comedy "Earl" from 20th Century Fox Television.

The first episode of "Earl," scheduled for Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC, will run Sept. 25 on Bravo at midnight. The second episode will run Sept. 29 at 11 p.m.

The first episode of fertility clinic dramedy "Inconceivable," which is set to air Fridays at 10 p.m. on NBC, will be shown Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. on Bravo; the second episode will run Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. The show is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Tollin/Robbins.

It was unclear at press time when "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," from Mark Burnett Productions and Trump Productions, would run on CNBC. Its regular time slot on NBC is Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
post #4683 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Opinion:

Comcast Isn't Playing Around With Hockey

By Alex Ben Block TVWeek.com

When fledgling Fox Broadcasting stunned competitors in 1993 by snagging a portion of National Football League television rights for $1.58 billion over four years, about 50 percent higher than what CBS paid under the previous contract, many critics said the deal made no sense. A CBS executive predicted Fox would lose as much as $500 million.

That would have been true if the deal were just about advertising revenues, but that wasn't the case. As Barry Diller said at the time, it meant Fox would now be carried on every cable system, in every sports bar and in every market. History shows it led to important affiliate switches and market upgrades. It made Fox stations more valuable and built the Fox brand.

Fast-forward a dozen years, and some critics are wondering what executives at Comcast were thinking when they paid a reported $135 million for a package of hockey games over the next two years, with two options that could add four years to a deal that in total may cost more than $400 million. The games will air on Comcast's subsidiary, the OLN network.

With hockey returning this fall after the 2004-05 season was canceled due to a labor squabble, there were legitimate questions about the value of the sport on TV. Disney/ABC's ESPN crunched the numbers and projected the ad and subscriber revenue and declined to exercise its option to match the OLN offer.

If it were just about ad revenue and current sub fees, the critics would be right. However, the hockey deal is about a lot more than that. It will drive distribution of OLN from its current sub count of about 65 million to around 80 million over the next couple of years and allow OLN to significantly raise the fee paid by cable operators, which is currently around 12 cents per subscriber. ESPN, which has rights in other major sports, gets a reported $2.60 per sub, so there is a lot of upside potential.

"It's a viewership play. It's a brand play. It's a distribution play," said Gavin Harvey, president of OLN. "There's so much the NHL brings to us. It all comes down to the value proposition."

By "value proposition" he means the benefit that will be perceived by consumers, advertisers, the media and cable system operators. "Hockey is a tremendous crown jewel acquisition for us," Mr. Harvey added. "It is going to help our network in many ways. It's one of those transformative events."

That is only the beginning. Each added sub raises the value of OLN itself. The deal also includes an unprecedented package of new media rights that will help expand and promote Comcast's huge investment in video-on-demand, online and HDTV services. And the combination of sports rights and new media becomes a powerful tool to boost Comcast's competitive position against satellite services such as DirecTV and, shortly, against the efforts of deep-pocket telcos to muscle their way into the market.

The deal also plays to Comcast's strength. The bulk of Comcast's 21.4 million subs are in cold-weather cities where hockey has a large cadre of loyal fans, including Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Chicago.

A Comcast insider said the company expects to offer a wide array of new products tied to hockey, including VOD highlights, replays and related programming. He compared it to the National Football League VOD package Comcast began offering last year. The free VOD offerings racked up 2.9 million visits in their first month and about 8.6 million visits over the football season. That meant all of those Comcast customers were introduced to the vast array of VOD offerings available, a service that satellite cannot match. In the future it will also be a sales tool as Comcast sells bundles of state-of-the-art video, high-speed data and voice services.

The Comcast insider pointed out that in most surveys the No. 1 programming people with high-definition TVs want is sports. To get the OLN package, in which at least one game a week will be shown in hi-def, subscribers must take Comcast's premium digital service. That helps raise the amount the cable company gets from each customer and lowers subscriber turnover.

Comcast also picked up rights to stream some hockey games live over the Internet. The only other sport to do that is baseball, which streams some games in real time as part of a larger package for which there is a charge. Comcast will do it for free, at least initially, hoping to attract millions to its Web sites. That will allow Comcast to promote other products and services to those visitors and sell much more advertising.

Despite their sly-as-a-fox denials that they are looking for OLN to be a competitor to ESPN, the hockey play will put Comcast and OLN in a much stronger position to go after other big-league rights as their subscriber count and revenues mount.

Mr. Harvey sees hockey as part of a larger mix on OLN that already includes bicycle racing, the Boston Marathon, the Iditarod dog sled race, the America's Cup yacht race and even reruns of the reality show "Survivor." What they all have in common, he said, is they are about the kind of competition a person faces when challenged to catch a fish or climb a mountain.

"Our success is not going to be about how we compete with a single network," Mr. Harvey said. "It is about how we load our network with must-see programming and whether we raise [OLN] to the level of all those other terrific networks. You can't focus on any one network. There is tremendous programming throughout cable. And you don't want to be blindsided by things coming from outside the industry."

The future isn't going to be about any one delivery or distribution system, but rather how media companies manage all of their resources and multiple distribution platforms to gain a competitive edge, to maximize the value of their assets and to build their brands. Successful companies will integrate the customer experience across both old and new media platforms so one feeds another.

You may think Comcast's hockey deal is just about TV, but it is so much more. That is why it is worth a lot more than the number crunchers at other networks, or outside critics, may think. Unless the viewership of hockey completely disappears, which is highly unlikely, Comcast and OLN have put the puck in the net in business terms just by doing this deal.
post #4684 of 25503
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

I made these posts over the thread where folks are roasting ABC for switching to local news back east.


Guys, get real.
The local news is what makes money for the local stations.
And in these days of hundreds of channel choices, it is also one of the very few things that sets a station apart from the other channels available to you on OTA, satellite or cable.
I agree that cutting off the LLWS was not a good thing, it barely reaches the level of the "Heidi" game.
Let's be honest: the local stations want to get the money for the commercials in their local news.
With the possible exceptions of San Diego and Honolulu, I guarantee the local news gets far higher ratings than the LLWS.
And by switching to it, the local stations didn't have to give money back to the advertisers who had bought time in the local news.
There is nothing more a local station GM hates than giving money back. He/she will gladly endure angry phone calls and/or letters rather than send any money back to any advertiser.
----------------------------------------------
And:

ABC is not to blame for this in any way.
The network provided the entire event to its affiliated stations.
It was the local stations which cut away.
We saw the entire game out here.
In HD, too.

Watching at home I heard Brent Musberger say that the East would cut away for news and that the game would continue only on the West Coast, which is why you got to see it.

Also, as I posted on another thread which just popped up, most networks would normally have continued with sports even if it meant blowing out the entire 6-7 p.m. (Eastern) news hour, network and local. Given the gravity of the news Sunday night, they probably wanted to make sure they got at least an abbreviated ABC newscast on the air as they promised they would, ASAP.
post #4685 of 25503
Thread Starter 
You could be right, dline, given the Katrina situation.
Though network (almost) always give the local stations cover, its very possible ABC made the decision for them.
Maybe this will teach me to not post such rigid and arrogant comments.
post #4686 of 25503
Thread Starter 
and as I noted over in that other thread, here's How USA Today's Michael McCarthy outlined what happened in today's paper:

"...It wasn't quite the "Heidi Game," that infamous sports TV moment in 1968 when NBC cut away from the ending of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to show the film Heidi causing football fans around the country to hurl stuff through their TV sets.

But for viewers of the Little League World Series championship game between Ewa Beach, Hawaii and Curacao it was pretty close. With the game tied 6-6 and heading into extra innings shortly after 6 p.m. ET, ABC play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger informed viewers that, with the exception of the West Coast and Hawaii, the network was cutting away to coverage of Hurricane Katrina menacing New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

The rest of the country, Musburger said, would have to switch to ESPN2 for the ending, which occurred in the bottom of the seventh when Hawaii won on a home run. (West Coast affiliates also had the option of switching away from the game, ABC/ESPN spokesman Mark Mandel said Sunday night.)

"ABC News has the authority to go to news when it's something this important," explained Mandel. "We're very pleased we had this option where sports, in this case the Little League World Series, could move to ESPN and fans could see the conclusion."

Before the move, viewers were treated to a spectacular game filled with dramatic homers, great catches, fanatical fans and nail-biting tension. Analyst Harold Reynolds was everywhere, providing color commentary and starring in instructional shorts. Reporter Sam Ryan interviewed players, coaches and parents while kibitzing with the fans.

Reynolds made sense of it all, too, explaining how the 11- and 12-year-old players were swinging at the equivalent of major leaguers' 99 mph fastballs due to the smaller field dimensions.

Reynolds related the best back story of the Series about Myron Enos Sr., the father of one of the Hawaii players. Told he wasn't allowed to take time off from his truck-driving job to watch his only son play in the World Series, Enos quit, took out a $12,000 loan and flew the family to Williamsport, Pa. "Give him a job when he gets back," Reynolds said..."

---------------------

Given that, I'll have to eat a little crow and ask for forgiveness.
Sometimes it is possible to be a little too arrogant with posts here.
In this case, I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court.
(Damn, crow tastes so freakin' gristly.)
post #4687 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Sunday's national ratings appear to be a delayed.
I'll post them when they become available.
post #4688 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Major formatting problems are forcing me to curtail posting.
As soon as I fuigure out the problem, I'll resume updating this thread.
post #4689 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Things are back on track.
Sunday's network prime-time ratings have posted at the top of Latest News the first item in this thread.
post #4690 of 25503
Thread Starter 
HDTV buyers get fuzzy deal, Cuban says

By Kimberly S. Johnson Denver Post

Beverly Hills, Calif. - Consumers are getting a raw deal when it comes to viewing the best quality of high-definition television possible, said Mark Cuban, co-founder and president of Denver-based HD.Net.

Speaking to more than 200 members of the television-manufacturing industry last week during an HDTV conference, Cuban said most HD content is compressed or made smaller, underutilizing HDTV sets capable of showing programming with extremely high resolution.

"It's all really depressed derivatives of what we really could see," he said.

Cuban was the keynote speaker for the conference sponsored by DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas, market-research and analysis firm for the TV-display industry.

Cable and satellite companies are compressing HD video so they can fit and send more programming over their networks. Picture quality is being sacrificed and will continue to be sacrificed, Cuban said.

"It's your turn for your industry to stand up and say something, or else you're going to be the redheaded stepchildren that keep on getting kicked around," he said.

He urged manufacturers to speak up and demand that cable, satellite and even movie companies allow for the picture quality the sets are designed to show.

"Right now, everybody is looking at compression to squeeze more channels in. No one is talking about using compression to come out with a better picture," he said. "It means all that work you're putting into picture quality is going to become worthless."

Nearly 2 million HDTVs have been sold this year, up 28 percent from all of 2004, according to the NPD Group, a market-research firm.

Manufacturers need to have more control over how HD content is displayed in retail showrooms. Cuban said 15 percent to 17 percent of people who purchase HDTVs return them because they're not satisfied with their viewing experience.

"That goes to presentation on the salesroom floor," he said. "Showing decent standard definition and amazing high-def, you're going to sell more and consumers are going to keep them."
post #4691 of 25503
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

HDTV buyers get fuzzy deal, Cuban says

This guy is one of my heroes..
post #4692 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Me too.
I don't agree with him on everything, but he sure tells it like he sees it.
post #4693 of 25503
if hes saying that hdtv should look even BETTER then it does now, either i im crazy or he has some great eye sight, cause i dont see how its possible. Then again i guess you dont know what your missing until you see it
post #4694 of 25503
i have seen HD Discovery and HD NET before they began compressing those channels. You can see the difference.
post #4695 of 25503
Detroit PBS Station Adopts Fox HD Solution (splicer)

By Daisy Whitney - TVWeek.com

Detroit's public television station WTVS-TV will be the first station outside of the Fox affiliates to adopt the Fox local station blueprint for high definition. WTVS signed a deal with equipment provider Terayon to use its technology to switch between local and national HD feeds. The benefit of that system is local stations don't need to compress and decompress the content-they can simply splice in their local commercials, graphic overlays or station logos, for instance, directly into the HD feed before it airs. WTVS is the first PBS station to deploy the Terayon solution, said Helge Blucher, VP of engineering and technology at WTVS. "We can cleanly switch between network programming and local programming," he said. "We have a limited budget and found this is the most effective and least expensive way to go. The fact that a major commercial network did it was reassuring."
post #4696 of 25503
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontdothat88 View Post

if hes saying that hdtv should look even BETTER then it does now, either i im crazy or he has some great eye sight, cause i dont see how its possible. Then again i guess you dont know what your missing until you see it


I hope someone listens to Mark Cuban.

Unfortunately, from a WSR link I found the following quote from a Microsoft VP:

"In an online chat session, the Microsoft exec said, "It's going to be interesting to see how and if a high def format for movies plays out. When we designed the the initial Xbox many people asked if SACD or DVD audio would be the successor to the CD format for music. As everyone knows the real successor was mp3 and digital distribution with things like Napster iPod and MSN music."

Now, I'm not comparing HD to SACD, but you have to understand the commercial parallel. Sometimes folks can choose convenience/cost over quality. I think the MS exec is dead wrong from a CD vs MP3 perspective; CD is clearly a quality leader over MP3 (which got a foothold from "theft"). One could argue whether SACD/DVD-A is worth the cost and convenience to choose over CD.

What I worry about is whether the compression will win-out long term because folks will say it is OK if the providers can carry 50% more HD content. I can see that working short-term, and I'm hoping that the technology will in the not too distant future make it possible to transmit the full quality HD image without the quality vs cost/channels tradeoff.

I would love to see one of the providers start touting their image quality as a reason to select them over a competitor, unfortunately I think that the "wow"factor of compressed HD is still sufficient as a sales tool and they will be competing on the basis of quantity-of-channels-carried for a few years. I would like it if the satellite companies would give me the choice of paying a few bucks more for the quality, that used to be a big reason to choose them over cable.


Just my two cents, but GO MARK !!
post #4697 of 25503
Thread Starter 
I am with you jp9 (and keep contributing to the thread!)
post #4698 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Telcos Could Lure Digital Subs

Multichannel.com 8/29/2005

More than one-third of multichannel-video customers would consider switching to service from a phone company if it would cost less than what they pay now, a market-research firm said Monday, citing a survey.

Horowitz Associates put the overall percentage who would consider switching at 37% -- but 42% of digital-cable customers, who currently pay the most for their TV service, would consider making the jump. The figures are 35% and 34%, respectively, for analog-cable and satellite-TV subscribers.

Other findings from a survey of 800 cable and satellite users in areas where digital cable is available:

More than half of multichannel consumers with a retail TiVo or other digital video recorder in the home (56% and 53%, respectively) say they use it on a weekly basis, and about 40% use a DVR daily.

Half of those who say they have HD service report they use it weekly.

About half of digital-cable subscribers with free on-demand service use it on a weekly basis, 27% of digital cable subscribers with on-demand movies buy one on a weekly basis and 14% of digital cable subscribers with subscription on-demand programming use it on a weekly basis.

Less than one-third of digital-cable or satellite customers saw value in getting services like caller ID and voicemail available on the PC and TV as well as the phone.

The broader Horowitz study is called State of Digital and Interactive Television 2005.
post #4699 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Court TV Ditches Dimond, Head Investigative Reporter

By Anthony Crupi mediaweek.com August 29, 2005

Court TV reporter Diane Dimond was let go last week as the network continues to restructure its daytime programming.

In a note to members of an online Yahoo! Message board devoted to her, Dimond said that Court TV decided to cut her loose, even though her contract wasn't due to expire until December.

"Court TV told me on Wednesday that they planned to dismantle my Investigative Unit, and Friday was my last day there," Dimond wrote.

In a statement, Court TV on Monday confirmed that it had let Dimond go: "Court TV recently re-branded Court TV News and as part of that effort is restructuring its investigative unit formerly headed by Diane Dimond." The network added that Dimond had been a "tremendous asset ... and was key to the network's successful coverage of the Michael Jackson trial."

Dimond said she'd use her newfound free time to work on her chronicle of the Jackson case, Be Careful Who You Love, which hits bookstores Nov. 15. (The title comes from the King of Pop's musical disavowal of patrimony, the 1983 hit "Billie Jean.")

Her note also suggests that Dimond will continue to make the occasional cable news appearance. "My friend Nancy Grace says now that I have some free time she expects me to join her on her CNN show from time to time," Dimond wrote.

In July, Court TV split itself into two distinct units --a daytime slate dubbed "Court TV News" and a prime-time and weekends block tagged "Court TV Seriously Entertaining." The division was effected in order to underscore the network's transition toward presenting original unscripted fare and issue-related movies at night, while emphasizing its news and trial coverage in mornings and afternoons.
post #4700 of 25503
Thread Starter 
A story in 22 hours
Networks presume viewers want big helpings of serials

By AARON BARNHART The Kansas City Star

After years of catering to the ever-decreasing attention spans of Americans, the biggest television networks this fall are suddenly reversing course.

Buoyed by the popularity of shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives, they are plugging the holes in their schedules with serial dramas. And thus catering to that most basic of human needs, after sustenance and sex: the need to be told a story. A nice loooooong story.

The change is as surprising as it is welcome. After all, viewers have been conditioned for years to expect less and less from TVWith these half-dozen additions to the fall's prime-time lineup, the networks are acknowledging that, just maybe, audiences are hungering for more drawn-out, more intriguing and, ultimately, more humane storylines.

These shows all appear to be inspired by existing hit serials. But thanks to their ambition, they are among the best the networks have to offer this fall.

Paranormal fantasy is a big theme that appears to link three new serials: ABC's Invasion, NBC's Surface and CBS' Threshold.

Prison Break and Reunion, both on Fox, have elements of the series that may have started the serial storytelling trend four years ago: the twisty terrorism thriller 24.

The serial Sex, Love & Secrets on UPN, inspired by Fox's The O.C, stars an appealing young cast whose lives are enmeshed in a well-off part of Southern California. Although there are the usual love triangles and personality conflicts, this isn't Melrose Place redux. Like The O.C. the first prime-time soap to hit it big since Melrose Sex, Love & Secrets has a lighter touch than those older soaps, as if the viewers are supposed to root for everyone to just get along.

And while it's too early to tell if it will be a serial, ABC's Commander-in-Chief, starring Geena Davis as the country's first female chief executive, will probably take weeks to play out the various complications caused by Davis' character ascending to the presidency.

These shows have one thing in common: They fly in the face of the corporate TV orthodoxy that says viewers can't be trusted to watch the same show week after week.

Compare the easy-in, easy-out storytelling of Law & Order which started the procedural craze 15 years ago with, say, Invasion (premiering Sept. 21 on ABC). It's a show in which a killer hurricane rolls through Homestead, Fla. Only as the first hour is ending do we realize that some of the storm's survivors are behaving strangely. The local sheriff whispers something to his wife about the first days being the hardest. The real drama, it seems, involves something much weirder than the weather.

If the premise of Invasion sounds familiar, that's because ABC pulled off exactly the same stunt last year, when it enticed 20 million people to watch a show called Lost, based on promotions that revolved around a horrific jet crash on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Soon it was revealed that other, darker forces were at work and that a taut psychological drama was being played out in this paradisical prison.

Lost' has really spurred this idea of the Big Idea, ABC's president of entertainment, Stephen McPherson, told TV critics in July. It's opened up the palette of what is being pitched (to networks). The old rule is it has to be a procedural. It can't be serialized. Those (notions) have been thrown out, which is great.

Maybe that's why CBS which thanks to CSI and its offspring has more self-contained dramas on the air than any network is rolling the dice with Threshold, which looks to be an extremely knotty yarn about an alien invasion. It's also an old-fashioned scarefest airing on a Friday night, which producer David Goyer was quick to point out was the same night on which Fox's The X-Files began.

There historically have been lots of great shows that have complicated mythologies, Goyer told reporters in July. It didn't seem to hurt X-Files,' and it doesn't seem to be hurting Lost.' But our aim is to let anyone who's watching any given episode still be able to understand and appreciate the stories.

That's the little secret behind the revival of serial dramas: Most people, in fact, don't watch them serially. Ratings experts say that the typical fan of a show like Desperate Housewives or The O.C. actually watches only seven or eight episodes a season. Why do you think these shows always open with a two-minute-long clip that recaps the whole season?

The move toward more serials started in 2001 with Fox's 24 and Alias on ABC, two shows that hurled interweaving plots and subplots at viewers. In the case of 24, there was the added challenge of a large cast and a huge contrivance: a ticking clock that the show kept time to, forcing the writers to account for every minute of Jack Bauer's long, long day.

Neither show was an unqualified hit. But both were so stylishly done, so well-reviewed, and among their smallish audiences were so many viewers from advertisers' most desirable demographics that the networks said, what the heck.

The new serials are thinking even more audacious thoughts. Take Prison Break, which starts Monday. It begins, as you may have seen from the promo Fox is running, with a man staging a bank robbery for the sole purpose of being incarcerated alongside his brother in the same maximum security pen. Then slowly, one presumes they will plot their breakout together.

The show's creator, Paul Scheuring, said the storyline is longer than a season. It's not going to be something like 24' where we're perpetually reinventing a new obstacle to overcome with each successive season. The model is going to be very much like The Great Escape,' in which we spend X amount of time within the actual walls, and thereafter, we're going to break quite a number of people out They're going to go to the four corners of the country in planes, trains and automobiles.

Another Fox serial, Reunion, will solve a murder the hard way by retracing the lives of the victim's high school classmates over the course of 20 years. Each episode will be set in a different year, with the first hour being set in 1986, the second episode in 1987, the third in 1988, etc., leading up to the present day. And if the show gets picked up for a second season, it will be with a new cast and a new mystery: It's like The Real World meets dinner theater.

That's the other benefit of a serial drama that self-contained procedurals will never enjoy: summer buzz. One reason the creators of these new serials seem to be tipping their hats to Lost is that it has millions of fans looking forward to its return this fall. They're curious what's inside that enormous sardine can the castaways finally got open at the end of last season.

And then, of course, there was the season-long tease of Desperate Housewives, the biggest and bawdiest of the network serials. Tens of millions of people found their way to ABC every Sunday to watch five fabulous females work their way into, and out of, troublesome situations over 23 salacious episodes (the network ordered an extra hour when it saw the show was a huge hit). All the while, one question lingered: Why did Mary Alice Young the housewife who narrates the show from beyond the grave kill herself in the first episode? Some would argue that the half-baked explanation, that she had gone to the grave to protect a terrible secret, wasn't worth the wait. But no mind: Housewives is the odds-on favorite to take the Emmy for best comedy show in September.

Law & Order and CSI may make piles of cash for the networks, but there's one thing they can't do: Create a good old-fashioned cliffhanger.
post #4701 of 25503
Thread Starter 
New on TV: The Multiple-Channel Screen

By PETER GRANT Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL August 30, 2005; Page B1

When pro football starts in September, fans who sign up for the "SuperFan" game package offered by satellite operator DirecTV Group Inc. will get a new feature: a channel on which they'll be able to watch eight games on one screen.

But viewers who don't feel like shelling out about $300 for SuperFan will have other options for watching several programs at once -- whether it's sports, news or shopping shows. The multiple-channel screen, known in the television industry as a "mosaic," is about to show up on millions of TVs throughout the country. It's another sign that satellite and cable systems are beginning to embrace interactive television after years of hype about the concept.

EchoStar Communications Inc. is set to announce today that its Dish Network satellite service has added the mosaic feature to its "Dish Home" channel. Viewers who tune to Dish Home, where they have access to a wide range of interactive features like games and shopping, will see what's happening on six channels, currently all tuned to news stations.

Comcast Corp. this fall is planning to launch a similar mosaic feature on a new "portal" screen that subscribers to its cable systems will see when they first turn on their TVs.

On the left side of the portal will be the various viewing options, like switching to on-demand movies or scrolling through channels.

In the middle will be six screens showing what's happening on different channels organized along different themes, like children's shows, sports or news.

Viewers will be able to use their remote controls to navigate among the channel boxes on the mosaic guides offered by all three operators. The audio they hear will be from the screen they highlight. By selecting it again, the box expands to fill the entire screen.

"When the consumer comes home and powers on they'll be greeted by a new experience," says Gerard Kunkel, a Comcast vice president who heads the joint venture between Comcast and Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. that is developing the new guide.

The television industry has been promising interactive features for more than 15 years, but now it's finally starting to deliver as competition intensifies. The cable industry is fighting to keep satellite companies from luring away subscribers, and both of them soon will face telephone companies that are beefing up their lines so they also can offer TV service.

Dish Network subscribers, for example, also can now use their remotes to play games, buy goods from Sharper Image or even bet on horse races, in the dozen or so states where that's legal. Time Warner Inc.'s cable division is launching a new guide that will enable viewers to do such things as call up local weather and traffic reports, upgrade their service and see the phone number of a caller when the phone rings. In a pilot program, Time Warner cable customers in Austin, Texas, can monitor the progress of their eBay auctions and increase their bids via remote while watching TV.

Programmers also are getting into the act. Playboy Enterprises Inc. is working with operators to enable viewers to order the channel via remote instead of by phone and is exploring the use of the mosaic feature to promote its content. Discovery Communications Inc. has been looking at ways viewers can shop with their remotes for fitness-related products on its Fit TV network.

Interactive TV is coming of age at a time of dramatic change in the television industry. Not only are new competitors emerging but the viewing habits of millions are being transformed by technology, including TiVo-like digital video recorders and video-on-demand services. Since most operators offer essentially the same channel lineup, they are turning to new features like mosaic to attract and retain subscribers.

They also are hoping that by making TV appear more like the Internet, they'll reverse the trend among some segments of the population, particularly younger people, of spending more time on their computers and less time watching TV. "Kids that grew up with calculators and computers are now adults and they want to punch keys," says media analyst Paul Kagan.

Some interactive features also have the potential to generate revenue, especially in the $60-billion-a-year TV commercial market. Operators like EchoStar and Time Warner Cable already have begun to experiment with commercials that allow viewers to request more information from advertisers with their remotes.

"Viewers can interact with advertisements on TV as much as they can with advertisements on the Internet," says Peter Stern, executive vice president of Time Warner Cable.

Cable has a technological advantage over satellite on the interactivity front because signals can be sent both to and from a cable subscriber's home, allowing the customer to order a show or a product with a click of the remote. (Satellite, by contrast, is a one-way system.) But cable operators have held back on offering many interactive features because only subscribers who pay for "digital" cable, which costs about $10 to $15 more a month than standard "analog" cable, can get them. Today, with close to half of subscribers at some cable companies getting digital, it has become cost-effective to offer interactivity.

Satellite operators have attempted to make up for their handicap by sometimes using a customer's phone wire for a return path -- which ties up the line if there's only one in a household.

Lacking a two-way path, satellite operators can't offer video on demand the way cable companies do. They've started a similar service for subscribers who get their latest boxes, which have enough storage for movies and other programs downloaded by the operator. But the operators won't be able to match the volume of content that many cable companies make available.

DirecTV, which is controlled by News Corp., lets subscribers watch practically every Sunday National Football League game with the SuperFan package. Subscribers can monitor the scores and progress of every game. A special alert is sent whenever any team moves the ball within the 20-yard line so the viewer can switch to the game to see if they score.
post #4702 of 25503
Quote:
Originally Posted by slocko View Post

i have seen HD Discovery and HD NET before they began compressing those channels. You can see the difference.

i cant even imagine how it could possibly look any better from beyond a couple of feet. Maybe if you get 2 feet away from the tv, but from 7-8 feet it looks as perfect as it can get. Then again i never seen it so i dont know what im missing
post #4703 of 25503
it also depends on what screen size you are watching. i was watching on a 61 inch screen that was calibrated.
post #4704 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Monday's network prime-time ratings have posted at the top of Latest News the first item in this thread.
post #4705 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Attracting Huge Audience Is Virgin Territory For NBC's 'The Office'

By WALT BELCHER Tampa Tribune

NBC executives must be wringing their hands and wishing that "The Office" could be half as successful as "The 40 Year-Old Virgin."

The comedy movie, starring Steve Carell, has been the No. 1 film at the box office for two weeks.

Meanwhile, NBC is still trying to build interest in "The Office," which also stars Carell.

The network is airing reruns and mini-marathons this summer in hopes of attracting an audience. "The Office" repeats at 9:30 tonight. New episodes begin Sept. 20.

Carell, who co-wrote and co-produced the "Virgin" film, is on his way to a major film career. He's set to play Maxwell Smart in the big screen remake of "Get Smart!" and is in line to be in a sequel to "Bruce Almighty."

The 42-year-old former "correspondent" for "The Daily Show" also has other film projects in the works.

"I still can't believe it, so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop," he said in an interview last month in Beverly Hills, Calif. "I know fame is fleeting and you have to enjoy it as it comes, so I'm enjoying it."

Carell joked that it took him more than 20 years to become an overnight sensation.

He grew up in Acton, Mass., where he performed school plays. After attending Denison University in Granville, Ohio, he was headed to law school when he decided to try acting professionally. He went to Chicago and joined the Second City comedy troupe.

He married a fellow comedy actor, Nancy Walls (who plays the frustrated therapist in "Virgin"). They have two children.

Through the 1990s, he found work as a writer ("The Dana Carvey Show") and performer. He was on "The Daily Show" from 1999 to 2003.

He was a scene stealer as a sleazy newsman in Jim Carrey's "Bruce Almighty" and was a nutty weatherman in Will Ferrell's "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." As Uncle Arthur, he was one of the better things about the sad remake of "Bewitched" this summer.

"The Office" has turned out to be a tough sell. Some critics liked it but audiences have ignored it.

In "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" Carell plays an endearing middle-aged man whose friends unite to help him finally "go all the way." In "The Office," he plays a thickheaded and insensitive boss at a small paper supply company. It's a spoof on corporate culture and the white-collar workers who slave away in their cubicles.

The British version, which starred Rick Gervais, developed a cult following in the United States (from BBC America reruns). Fans of the original have not warmed to the NBC remake.

Carell said that if "The Office" doesn't catch on, he'll keep going.

"I consider myself very lucky and I'm happy to have come this far," he said. "If it all ends tomorrow, I'll still be happy."
post #4706 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Wicked mom role is right up her alley
Jessica Walter relishes her role as the matriarch of a mega-dysfunctional family on `Arrested Development.'

BY MARISA GUTHRIE New York Daily News

Jessica Walter is reveling in her role as Lucille Bluth, the selfish, mercurial, chemically dependent matriarch on Arrested Development.

''I think that she's a great dame,'' Walter said this week. ``I'm crazy for Lucille. I don't think she's a bad person. Her priorities may be a little screwed up, but she does love her children -- in her own way.''

The part has brought critical accolades and an Emmy nomination for Walter, who has racked up numerous nods in a long career. (She won her only Emmy 30 years ago for the short-lived crime drama Amy Prentiss.)

The cast of Arrested, the Fox comedy, reunited last week in Los Angeles to start work on the third season of the show, which premieres Sept. 19. Last season, all manner of deliciously smarmy family secrets were spilled, including the real paternity of Lucille's last-born son, Buster (Tony Hale). Michael (Jason Bateman), meanwhile, managed to trick his mother into rehab to deal with her little alcohol problem. And this season, Lucille goes off her postpartum depression medication.

''Of course, it's been 32 years since she's had Buster, but that's how long she's been depressed about him,'' said Walter. ``All kinds of horrible things ensue. I do, at one point, let my car roll into the lake with Buster in it -- like Susan Smith did with her children.''

Which would make Lucille Bluth the Mommie Dearest of TV comedy.

''I'm sure Lucille doesn't have one wire hanger in her closet,'' Walter said.

The actress, who lives with her husband, actor Ron Leibman, on New York City's upper West Side, is a veteran of the New York stage and has appeared in classic TV series, including Trapper John, MD and The Streets of San Francisco. She got her first big-screen break in 1971 when Clint Eastwood cast her as his murderously obsessive lover in Play Misty for Me. She said fans still approach her to tell her how much they liked her in the role.

The wicked characters seem to make the deepest impression -- on audiences and actors.

''Those are always the fun parts to play,'' she said. ``It puts a little vinegar into things.''

And it's highly cathartic.

''You can act out all of your rageful, angry, crazed feelings,'' said Walter. ``Everybody has these feelings and they like to see them acted out.''
post #4707 of 25503
Thread Starter 
I realize it can be a pain to push your way through all the information kept updated in the first post of this thread.
So here is a handy cheat sheet for the new TV season:

Rundown of new TV series by network

Orlando Sentinel August 29, 2005

Here are synopses, time slots and premiere dates, where available, for new series, movies and specials from the broadcast networks and cable channels. TV critic Hal Boedeker assesses the programs.

CBS

How I Met Your Mother, 8:30 p.m. Mondays: This charming, unpredictable comedy charts the romantic trials of a bumbling bachelor (Josh Radnor). The cast includes Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan. Sept. 19.

Out of Practice, 9:30 Mondays: Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler play divorced parents of three adult children in a family of physicians. This promising sitcom comes from top writers for Frasier. Sept. 19.

Close to Home, 10 Tuesdays: This crime drama focuses on a prosecutor (Jennifer Finnigan) who is a new mother. Jerry Bruckheimer produces with his customary smooth touch, and Finnigan is a knockout. Oct. 4.

Criminal Minds, 9 Wednesdays: FBI profilers study the worst troublemakers. This dark, grim show will have trouble standing out in the crowded crime genre. Mandy Patinkin and Thomas Gibson lead the cast. Sept. 22.

Ghost Whisperer, 8 Fridays: Jennifer Love Hewitt not only sees dead people -- she advises them and makes them feel better. Hewitt (Party of Five) plays a newlywed in this drama that's more heartwarming than scary. Sept. 23.

Threshold, 9 Fridays: Scariest of the aliens-have-arrived dramas debuting this fall. Analyst Carla Gugino formulates the government's response, with help from Brent Spiner and Charles S. Dutton. Sept. 16.

ABC

Commander in Chief, 9 Tuesdays: Geena Davis plays the first woman to become U.S. president. In this upbeat but simplistic drama, the best moments go to Kyle Secor as her uneasy husband and Donald Sutherland as her political nemesis. Sept. 27.

Freddie, 8:30 Wednesdays: An unmarried chef (Freddie Prinze Jr.) opens his swank home to his sister, niece, sister-in-law and grandmother. Subtitles relay grandma's Spanish-only dialogue, but this bland sitcom delivers little spice. Oct. 5.

Invasion, 10 Wednesdays: In this aliens-are-here drama, the visitors arrive during a hurricane and take over Floridians' bodies. Or so it seems. The results are not as creepy as you might hope. William Fichtner and Eddie Cibrian star. Sept. 21.

Night Stalker, 9 Thursdays: ABC reworks this old favorite about a dogged reporter (Stuart Townsend) who investigates supernatural phenomena. The network should have let him rest in peace. The results are deadly dull. Sept. 29.

Hot Properties, 9:30 Fridays: Think Designing Women in the real-estate business. Gail O'Grady and Nicole Sullivan lead the ensemble of this bawdy sitcom. Its coarse style quickly grows tiresome. Oct. 7.

NBC

Surface, 8 Mondays: In this family drama, strange sea creatures mystify the human race. Lake Bell and Jay R. Ferguson lead the cast. The storytelling lacks focus and punch. Sept. 19.

My Name Is Earl, 9 Tuesdays: One of the fall's best. Jason Lee plays a small-time crook who wins the lottery and sets about helping those he has wronged. This refreshing sitcom manages to be sweet and hilarious. Sept. 20.

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, 8 Wednesdays: Can the domestic diva follow in Donald Trump's footsteps? In her search to find an aide, Stewart says she won't use Trump's "you're fired." Sept. 21.

E-Ring, 9 Wednesdays: This lavish but predictable drama depicts the inner workings of the Pentagon. It's no West Wing. Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper -- yes, Dennis Hopper -- play gung-ho officers. Sept. 21.

Three Wishes, 9 Fridays: Singer Amy Grant hosts this reality series and dispenses help to deserving small-town folk. Sept. 23.

Inconceivable, 10 Fridays: Intrigue and heartache drive the melodrama at a fertility clinic. Ming-Na and Jonathan Cake play the clinic's co-founders. Angie Harmon co-stars as their partner. They shouldn't expect to be in business too long. Sept. 23.

Fox

The War at Home, 8:30 Sundays: Even by Fox's low standards, this domestic comedy manages to be surprisingly coarse. Michael Rapaport and Anita Barone portray befuddled parents of three wildly different teens. Sept. 11.

Kitchen Confidential, 8:30 Mondays: A good-looking but not especially funny comedy based on chef Anthony Bourdain's autobiography. Bradley Cooper plays a New York chef struggling for a comeback. Sept. 19.

Prison Break, 9 Mondays: This utterly preposterous drama follows a man who holds up a bank so he'll be sent to prison. His goal: break out his brother, a death-row inmate wrongly convicted of murder. Aug. 29.

Bones, 8 Tuesdays: Or Fox tries to find its answer to CSI. A forensic anthropologist (Emily Deschanel) guides a brilliant team and butts heads with an FBI agent (David Boreanaz). They work in hackneyed ways. Sept. 13.

Head Cases, 9 Wednesdays: A comedy-drama about unlikely lawyer buddies. One (Chris O'Donnell) is recovering from a nervous breakdown. The other (Adam Goldberg) suffers from explosive disorder. They are not good company. Sept. 14.

Reunion, 9 Thursdays: A mystery that follows six friends over 20 years. Which one has died? Each episode covers a year in their tumultuous lives. The opener was ambitious, and the show's attractive cast includes Will Estes of American Dreams. Sept. 8.

Killer Instinct, 9 Fridays: This brutal police drama focuses on a San Francisco detective (Johnny Messner) and his new partner (Kristin Lehman). A cop flop, the show wastes dynamic Chi McBride. Sept. 23.

UPN

Sex, Love & Secrets, 9 Tuesdays: A blah Melrose Place wannabe about twentysomething pals in Southern California. Denise Richards stars. Sept. 27.

Everybody Hates Chris, 8 Thursdays: One of the fall's best. Chris Rock narrates this entertaining comedy about his childhood in 1980s Brooklyn. It could be another Wonder Years. Sept. 22.

Love, Inc., 9:30 Thursdays: A comedy about a dating consultant. Busy Philipps takes over for the show's original star, Shannen Doherty, whom UPN dropped. Sept. 22.

The WB

Just Legal, 9 p.m. Mondays: Don Johnson plays a down-on-his-luck lawyer, and Jay Baruchel is his earnest partner who's only 18. The actors' fine teamwork enlivens a predictable drama. Sept. 19.

Supernatural, 9 p.m. Tuesdays: Two brothers (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) investigate eerie mysteries while seeking their missing father. The series delivers chills with verve. Sept. 13.

Related, 9 p.m. Wednesdays: A comedy-drama about four sisters who are young adults in Manhattan. Jennifer Esposito stars. Critics hadn't seen the show at press time. Oct. 5.

Twins, 8:30 Fridays: A shrill comedy about a family in the lingerie business. Sara Gilbert plays a smart businesswoman, and Molly Stanton is her twin, a stunning model. Melanie Griffith and Mark Linn-Baker are their mismatched parents. Sept. 16.

Midseason series

Everything I Know About Men, CBS: Jenna Elfman portrays a secretary in this romantic comedy.

Old Christine, CBS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a single mom in this sitcom.

The Unit, CBS: David Mamet produces this drama about special forces operatives. Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley and Regina Taylor lead the cast.

Emily's Reasons Why Not, ABC: Heather Graham plays a book editor with man trouble in this sitcom based on the novel.

What About Brian, ABC: A romantic drama about a bachelor (Barry Watson of 7th Heaven) yearning to settle down.

Crumbs, ABC: Jane Curtin, William Devane and Fred Savage form a dysfunctional sitcom family.

Sons & Daughters, ABC: Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live) produces this endearing comedy about a large, wacky family.

The Evidence, ABC: Orlando Jones and Nicky Katt are detective partners in this slick drama, set in San Francisco. Oscar-winner Martin Landau co-stars.

In Justice, ABC: A larger-than-life lawyer (Kyle MacLachlan) leads a nonprofit group that helps free the wrongly convicted. Jason O'Mara co-stars in this drama.

The Miracle Workers, ABC: In this reality series, top physicians use revolutionary treatments on patients.

Four Kings, NBC: The creators of Will & Grace deliver a sitcom about four male pals sharing a posh New York apartment.

Thick and Thin, NBC: A comedy about weight loss. Jessica Capshaw plays a formerly heavyset woman; Sharon Gless and Martin Mull are her parents.

The Book of Daniel, NBC: Jesus appears to a pill-popping Episcopal minister (Aidan Quinn) in this drama.

Windfall, NBC: Luke Perry and Jason Gedrick star in a drama about friends who win millions in the lottery.

The Loop, Fox: A sitcom about a young airline executive with a busy social life.

Free Birds, Fox: A fun-loving college student unhappily returns to his small Midwestern hometown and his bickering parents. This comedy is partly improvised.

South Beach, UPN: Jennifer Lopez produces this drama about two male pals in trendy South Florida. Vanessa L. Williams has a supporting role.

Pepper Dennis, the WB: Rebecca Romijn plays the title character, a Chicago TV reporter, in this comedy-drama.

The Bedford Diaries, the WB: A drama about a college sexuality class features Matthew Modine as a free-thinking prof.

Misconceptions, the WB: This sitcom brings together a mom (Jane Leeves) and the surprising sperm donor who made her teen daughter possible.

Modern Men, the WB: Jerry Bruckheimer offers a comedy about a life coach (Jane Seymour) who helps three young men with romantic difficulties.

TV movies

Category 7: The End of the World, CBS: This four-hour miniseries is a sequel to Category 6: Day of Destruction. Nov. 6 and 13.

The Hunt for the BTK Strangler, CBS: A fact-based drama about this serial killer will air Oct. 9.

Martha: Behind Bars, CBS: Cybill Shepherd plays domestic diva Stewart for a second time. Sept. 25.

Pope John Paul II, CBS: Cary Elwes and Jon Voight share the title role in a four-hour miniseries.

Once Upon a Mattress, ABC: Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman headline this new version of a Broadway musical.

The Poseidon Adventure, NBC: Steve Guttenberg and Rutger Hauer star in a remake of a 1972 disaster film. Nov. 20.

Stephen King's Desperation, ABC: Steven Weber and Tom Skerritt share the chills in this adaptation.

Surrender Dorothy, CBS: Diane Keaton portrays a mother struggling to understand her late daughter's life.

The Ten Commandments, ABC: Robert Halmi Sr. produces this four-hour miniseries, with Dougray Scott as Moses.

10.5: Apocalypse, NBC: Kim Delaney and Beau Bridges return in a sequel to the miniseries 10.5. Nov. 27-28.

Vampire Bats, CBS: Lucy Lawless stars in a thriller about mutating bats. Oct. 30.

Cable

Ambulance Girl, Lifetime: Kathy Bates takes the title role and directs the film, the true story of a food writer who became an emergency medical technician. Sept. 12.

The Boondocks, Cartoon Network: Aaron McGruder's comic strip joins Adult Swim. Oct. 2.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO: Larry David returns for a fifth season. Sept. 25.

Extras, HBO: Ricky Gervais of The Office plays an actor who must settle for small film parts. Sept. 25.

The Flight That Fought Back, Discovery Channel: This program airs on the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11 and relies on dramatic re-creations of hijacked Flight 93.

Human Trafficking, Lifetime: Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland star in a four-hour miniseries about the global sex-slave trade. Oct. 24, 25.

Knights of the South Bronx, A&E: Ted Danson plays a chess teacher in this fact-based film. December.

Nip/Tuck, FX: The third season starts Sept. 20.

Rome, HBO: A major event. This epic drama follows two soldiers who fought for Julius Caesar. Aug. 28.

Run's House, MTV: A reality series that focuses on the Rev. Run (Joseph Simmons of Run-DMC) and his family. October.

Sleeper Cell, Showtime: In this drama series, an undercover agent (Michael Ealy), who is Muslim, infiltrates a terrorist group. December.

The Sopranos, HBO: This mob drama returns for its sixth season in March.

The Triangle, Sci Fi: Catherine Bell, Eric Stoltz and Bruce Davison headline this six-hour miniseries about the Bermuda Triangle. December.
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Thread Starter 
TNT Wins Summer Primetime Laurels

By Linda Moss Multichannel.com

Turner Network Television, boosted by ratings winners such as The Closer and Into the West, enjoyed a hot summer this year, winning the primetime viewership crown, according to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday.

TNT racked up a 2.4 primetime rating this summer season, up 14% from last summer's 2.1, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks analysis of Nielsen data. USA Network and Disney Channel tied for second place, with a 2.0 rating each. USA was down 5%, while Disney Channel was up 5%.

In third place, Fox News Channel and Nick at Nite were also tied with a 1.7 primetime rating, according to Nielsen. Fox News saw a tidy 21% gain, up from a 1.4 last summer, while Nick at Nite was up 6%, from a 1.6.

Lifetime Television posted a 1.6 rating, flat versus last summer. Lifetime was followed by TBS and Cartoon Network, each with a 1.4. TBS slipped 7%, from a 1.5 last summer, as did Cartoon Network, dipping 13% from a 1.6.

Spike TV generated a 1.3 primetime summer rating, a whopping 63% increase from last summer's 0.8 rating.

Turner South was flat with its 1.2 rating. MTV: Music Television, ESPN and Hallmark Channel all registered a 1.1 rating, according to Nielsen. MTV saw a 10% increase, ESPN dropped 8%, and Hallmark Channel enjoyed a 22% primetime gain, according to Nielsen.

Sci Fi Channel, FX and AMC each posted a 1.0 primetime rating this summer. Sci Fi and FX were each down 9%, while AMC posted a 25% increase.

For total day, Nickelodeon retained its longtime first-place position, with a 1.9 rating, flat compared with last summer.

Some of the biggest gainers in primetime this summer were: Biography Channel, up 100% to a 0.2; Headline News, up 100% to a 0.4; Noggin/The N and Outdoor Life Channel, each up 50% to a 0.3; and WE: Women's Entertainment, up 50% to a 0.3.

The biggest losers included: MSNBC, down 25% to a 0.3 in primetime; TLC, down 25% to a 0.6; Discovery Channel, down 20% to a 0.8; and GSN, down 20% to a 0.4.

The summer season spanned May 30 through Aug. 28.
post #4709 of 25503
Thread Starter 
A box office bump for 'The Office.' Not.
All the buzz is over star Steve Carell's hit movie

By Kevin Downey medialifemagazine.com staff writer

The executives at NBC must be delighted at what's been happening at the country's movie houses.

Yes, it's been a lackluster summer at the box office, but in recent weeks there's been one breakout success, the raunchy comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and the star of that film also happens to star in NBC's lauded but poorly rated sitcom The Office.

It seems logical, then, that Steve Carell's breakout movie role would translate into a surge for The Office when it returns Tuesday, Sept. 20.

But NBC may be in for a bitter surprise.

Many media people say that no matter how well the movie does, the TV show won't get a bump, or at least not a lasting one.

It's probably never going to get past cult status, says Shari Anne Brill, vice president and director of programming at Carat.

The movie is a great way to generate awareness. But if [viewers] don't like what they see, they will not stick with it.

Part of that is because of the deep contrast between the two vehicles.

In The Office, a mock documentary, Carell plays a dimwitted boss at Dunder Mifflin paper supply company.

In "Virgin," he's a sweetie in a sex romp.

Brill says that Carell's movie largely appeals to a different audience than the show.

[Virgin'] is a whole different kind of comedy, she says.

[Virgin'] is more slapstick-y than the single-camera sarcasm of The Office.' And in the Virgin' he plays a sympathetic character but in The Office' he plays a character you hate.

John Spiropoulos, partner and associate research director at MindShare, says The Office may do well with the upcoming season's first episode.

But he thinks that will have less to do with Virgin than it does light competition on the night.

On that particular Tuesday, which is during premiere week, it's the only show premiering in that 9 p.m.
hour, along with [NBC's] My Name is Earl.' And I don't think [CBS's] Big Brother' finale is going to be much competition, he says.

So, I think any boost in audience will be because of increased interest in premieres, not because of the movie.

But not all media researchers think The Office will continue to founder.

Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate research director at Horizon Media, says The Office is a funny series that simply hasn't found its audience yet.

I think this is really going to help [Carell] and The Office.' The Office' is very funny and it merits higher ratings.

And the network is giving it every opportunity to do that.

NBC has indeed been using Virgin to generate interest in The Office.

In July, in-theater previews of Virgin included clips from The Office. NBC aired four episodes of the show on Aug.

17 in a back-to-back block that was hosted by Carell and included previews of Virgin. Moreover, some newspaper and radio ads for Virgin included mention of The Office marathon.

The first season of The Office was also released on DVD on Aug. 16.

NBC Universal has not released sales figures for the DVD but it does not rank among the 10 best-selling home videos as tracked by Billboard.

Despite the heavy promotions, The Office has a long climb if it's to become a hit.
The show ranked No. 89 last season among all primetime programs in NBC's core 18-49 demographic.

With a 2.5 rating it even trailed lackluster lead-in Scrubs, which had a 3.1.

The Office averaged only 5.4 million total viewers.

I think people have already said they are not interested in The Office,'" says MindShare's Spiropoulos.
That's not to say people will continue to not to want to go to it, but history tends to repeat itself."
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CBS Keeps Stranglehold on Summer Ratings

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)Another week of summer, another week of CBS winning the Nielsen crown: The network's streak has now reached 13 consecutive weeks on top.

Fueled, as usual, by crime-show repeats and also by an unusually strong showing from "60 Minutes," CBS averaged a 5.3 rating/9 share and 7.71 million viewers per night in the week ending Sunday, Aug. 28. NBC was second in households at 4.2/7, but FOX (4.0/7) took the No. 2 spot in viewers with 5.96 million to NBC's 5.84 million. ABC (3.8/7, 5.66 million) was fourth, followed by UPN (1.9/3, 2.74 million) and The WB (1.3/2, 1.88 million).

FOX, which got strong showings from "So You Think You Can Dance" and the animated pair of "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," managed to tie CBS for first place among adults 18-49; each network posted a 2.4 rating in the demographic. ABC was third at 2.0, followed by NBC, 1.9; UPN, 1.1; and The WB, 0.8.

CBS pretty much dominated the top of the Nielsen rankings, grabbing the top six spots and nine of the top 12 (there was a three-way tie for 10th). "CSI" nailed the top spot with an 8.5/14, and "60 Minutes" ascended to second overall with a 7.4/14, its best rating of the summer.

The only non-CBS shows in the top 10 were NBC's "Law & Order," seventh with a 6.8/12, and "Law & Order: SVU" and ABC's "Monday Night Football" preseason game, which tied for 10th (with CBS' movie "Stone Cold") at 6.4/11.

"House" and "So You Think You Can Dance" (both 5.6/9) turned in decent numbers for FOX, tying for 13th place. "Dance" also tied for third overall in adults 18-49. Its emergence in the past few weeks took some of the steam out of ABC's "Brat Camp," which scored only a 4.3/7 for its finale, coming in 30th place.

"The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" also made the top 10 among adults 18-49, despite finishing only 39th and 43rd among households.

Farther down the rankings, "WWE Smackdown!" was the best performer among the netlets, averaging 3.2/5 for UPN and tying for 62nd place. Repeats of "Gilmore Girls" and "Reba" led The WB at 1.7/3.
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