Thursday, February 23, 2006

TV News


Raver no stranger to ABC
Kim Raver has been tapped to co-star in ABC's untitled Steinbergs drama.

In other pilot castings, Jeffrey Donovan has been tapped as one of the two leads in ABC's drama "Enemies," Eddie Kaye Thomas is set to star in Fox's comedy " 'Til Death," Erinn Hayes has landed the female lead in Fox's comedy pilot "Becoming Glen," British actress Ashley Jensen has joined ABC's comedy "Ugly Betty," and Meta Golding has been added to the cast of ABC's drama "Day Break."

Additionally, Maz Jobrani ("The Interpreter") has come on board ABC's untitled Donal Logue comedy pilot, and Currie Graham ("Desperate Housewives") has been cast in the CBS drama pilot "Edison." EDITOR'S NOTE: MUST SEE TV? LOTS OF PEOPLE THE QOTD HAS NEVER HEARD OF. (EXCEPT FOR RAVER AND LOGUE, I THINK).

Stars find way to trio of pilots
In the latest pilot-casting news, Erika Christensen has joined ABC's "Six Degrees," Gina Gershon is set to star in NBC's one-hour "Lipstick Jungle" and Ving Rhames will co-star in the CW's untitled Aquaman drama. EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE "AQUAMAN" STUFF, BELOW.

Additionally, Timm Sharp has landed the male lead in CBS' "Play Nice," Geoff Stults has been cast in ABC's "October Road," Kristin Lehman is set to star opposite Cole Hauser in Fox's "Damages" and Rachel Boston will play a lead in CBS' untitled Joe Port/Joe Wiseman project.

In pilot pickups, Fox has given the green light to the single-camera comedy "Julie Reno, Bounty Hunter."


A.J. Frutkin
FEBRUARY 20, 2006 -
On Wednesday, March 22, the time slot NBC’s Law & Order once dominated becomes midseason’s most hotly contested hour.

That’s when the veteran procedural drama moves up to 9 p.m., making way at 10 p.m. for NBC’s new action crime series, Heist. EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL TIMES EST, NATCH.

That same night at 10 p.m., ABC launches procedural drama The Evidence.

Both series will compete against time slot leader CBS’ CSI:NY.

Several advertisers said Law & Order’s time period shift signaled an acknowledgment on the network’s part that the franchise’s original iteration is waning.

“The show has been a rock for NBC at 10 o’clock,” said Kris Magel, senior vp/account director at Zenith Media. “So I think the move is significant.”

Despite its decline, Law & Order remains one of NBC’s strongest performers on an otherwise struggling schedule. And executives there believe giving Heist as good a lead-in as possible is key to its success.

Things are so competitive and so tough out there, we need to create opportunities,” said Mitch Metcalf, executive vp of program planning and scheduling for NBC Universal. “We need to be willing to shift a show like Law & Order to create a launching pad for Heist.”

Even before NBC decided to move Law & Order, ABC had been considering a 10 p.m. berth for The Evidence. But up against two procedurals like CSI: NY and Law & Order, “the prospects were daunting,” said Jeff Bader, executive vp at ABC Entertainment. Then, when Law & Order moved, it “gave us an opportunity to say to viewers who watch procedurals, ‘Come, check out a new one,’” he said.

What’s more, while NBC uses Law & Order to launch Heist, ABC has at its disposal the formidable hit Lost.

Assuming both are first-run, Lost is a more potent lead-in than Law & Order is now,” said John Rash, chief broadcast negotiator at Campbell Mithun. “So from a strategic standpoint, The Evidence may have a slight edge.”

But as ABC discovered with its Wednesday 10 p.m. show Invasion, strong lead-ins can’t guarantee success. Ultimately creating hits comes from a combination of elements, ranging from the quality of a program to audience flow (Invasion was deemed too similar to Lost) to a little bit of luck. EDITOR'S NOTE: "INVASION" ISN'T TOO SIMILAR TO "LOST", IT'S SIMPLY NOT AS GOOD. AND "INVASION" IS MORE NARROW-CAST SCIFI, WHERE "LOST" HAS A MORE GENERAL APPEAL.

With CBS already leading in the time slot, there may not be enough luck to go around. “There often is room for two successful dramas in a time period,” said Steve Sternberg, executive vp and director of audience analysis at Magna Global. “But there is very seldom room for three.” EDITOR'S NOTE: MEDIA BUYER TALKING EXPERTS. OF COURSE, STANDARD MEDIA MEASURES ARE ON THE WANE, AND MOST AD AGENCY SO-CALLED EXPERTS ARE RAPIDLY GOING THE WAY OF THE DINOSAURS. BUT SURE...WE VALUE YOUR OPINION.... (TEE HEE).

Challenge to CBS/Time Warner’s CW
By Claire Atkinson
NEW YORK ( -- News Corp. honchos launched their first real attack on CBS Corp./Time Warner joint venture, CW, outlining their plan for a second broadcast network named My Network TV.

Peter Chernin, News Corp. president-chief operating officer, offered up a fresh economic model of broadcast TV in an attempt to woo third-party local station groups into backing News Corp. as opposed to CW. Mr. Chernin peppered a high-energy press conference in New York with plenty of reminders about the dual successes of the Fox broadcast network and cable's Fox News Channel.

We don’t have the burden of an old business model,” Mr. Chernin said. “We will base it on stripped programming, not a checkerboard that’s difficult to schedule. ... We are going to win and he’s going to do it,” he said, introducing Fox Television Stations Chairman Roger Ailes.

Mr. Ailes said he was busy writing CBS CEO Les Moonves a thank-you note for launching CW. “Losing is highly overrated as a learning experience. I believe we will win,” he concluded. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. EVIL AND UNASHAMED OF IT. (I WONDER IF THE SMELL OF SULFUR WAS OVERPOWERING, OR IF THEY HAD AIR FILTRATION KEEPING IT IN CHECK?)

Low overhead
My Network TV plans to offer potential partners a low-overhead model with a much simpler program schedule. It is expected to be profitable on launch, said the executives, who were joined by station group CEO Jack Abernethy, with 24% of the country covered by Fox-owned stations in the 10 major markets. The network is aimed at the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT THEN, WHAT ISN'T?! The name ties the new network to the recently acquired social networking Web site, though no immediate synergies were offered by executives.

News Corp. executives suggested they were not left flat-footed with the January announcement about the launch of CW, claiming they already had plans in the works. Mr. Ailes said he had told Mr. Moonves during contract renegotiations for UPN that the station was not helping them make money.

In each of the 10 major markets where Fox stations will lose its UPN affiliation as a result of the CW launch, News Corp. will put in place an individually tailored brand identity with nationally shared programming. For instance, in the New York market, the station will be known as My TV Nine, or My TV New York.

New Corp. plans to sell its new vision to station groups across the country in a head-to-head battle with CW. Both groups are out selling their separate visions of the future of broadcast TV.

The CW model
CW is a joint venture between CBS’s UPN and Time Warner’s the WB. The two media conglomerates decided to merge their struggling networks into a single national service back in January. They are asking affiliates to pay to be part of the service, in what is known as “reverse compensation.’

CW, for its part, claims not to be worried. “We wish their program-syndication service well,” said a CW spokesman. “Based on our roster of proven hit series that consistently rank No. 1 or No. 2 in young-adult demographics, the CW will uniquely benefit and serve advertisers, stations and viewers alike.” EDITOR'S NOTE: HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED THAT WHEN 'SPOKES PEOPLE' TALK IT MAKES A SORT OF HUMMMMMM? KINDA LIKE BEES ON A BALMY SPRING DAY, WITH THE SUN SHINING ON YOU IN YOUR LAWN CHAIR, AND A DOG BARKING OFF IN THE DISTANCE, AND.ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

My Network TV will make its debut Sept. 5 and will air programming Monday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with 12 hours of original content per week. EDITOR'S NOTE: AGAIN, EST, I PRESUME. The network will kick off with two programs starring glamorous actors in a soap-style series. The two English-language "telenovelas" are titled “Desire” and “Secrets” and will fill the entire block, Monday through Saturday in the beginning. Each show is designed with a 65-episode, 13-week story arc to keep viewers coming back. EDITOR'S NOTE: CAUSE IF YOU TELL US IT'S GOT A LIMITED RUN, WE'RE MORE LIKELY TO WATCH. (IF I HATE IT AND DON'T WATCH IT AT ALL, THAT'S AN EVEN MORE LIMITED RUN, THOUGH...RIGHT?)

Programming schedule
Also in development are a handful of new reality series, including one unnamed show from Fremantle (which produces the “American Idol” format around the world).

Another show under consideration is “Catwalk,” a new take on UPN’s existing hit, “America’s Next Top Model,” that will feature professional models pushing their teams of girls.

“Transformed” is a reality show that aims to reform bad parents and bad kids, while an investigative crime show from Fox News Channel, called “On the Scene,” is also on the development slate along with two other reality shows, “America’s Brainiest,” which looks for the smartest people in the country, and “Celebrity Love Island,” which offers the opportunity to date a star. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHY WOULD THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY WANT TO BE ON FOX/UPN/MYNETWORKTV? (KINDA LIKE, WHY THE SMARTEST PEOPLE DON'T RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE, HUH?) AND WHO AT FOX/UPN/MYNETWORKTV WOULD BE QUALIFIED TO JUDGE SOMEONE'S INTELLIGENCE, ANYWAY?!

Mr. Abernethy refused to give details about barter arrangements or what the advertising split with stations would be. He also declined to reveal ratings estimates for the new service. He added, however, that advertisers would be interested in the new network because it offered “frequency.” The aim is that viewers will come back night after night for the Monday to Friday strips. EDITOR'S NOTE: I THINK THAT'S HIS WAY OF SAYING THAT ONLY 4 PEOPLE WILL BE WATCHING....BUT THEY'LL BE WATCHING EVERY NIGHT.

My Network TV will be a joint venture between Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television. The anchor stations for the new service are: WWOR (New York); KCOP (Los Angeles); WPWR (Chicago); KDFI (Dallas); WDCA (Washington); KTXH (Houston) EDITOR'S NOTE: OH GOODIE. I'D HATE TO MISS OUT.; WFTC (Minneapolis); KUTP (Phoenix); WRBW (Orlando); and WUTB (Baltimore).

Kojak mixing it up with Aquaman?
The new “Aquaman” series – rumoured to be now titled “Mercury Reef” – has just been injected with some real muscle.

“Pulp Fiction” and “Undisputed” star Ving Rhames has joined the cast of the new WB/CW series, which tells the tale of the water-loving superhero before he could legally drink.

The big guy, next seen in “Mission : Impossible 3”, will play McCaffery, a lighthouse keeper who serves as mentor to series lead A.C. Curry (played by Will Toale).

Though Rhames has appeared in many action/adventure films – including the three “Mission : Impossible” films, “Con Air” and “Entrapment” - this would be his first stint in superhero terrain.

Earlier today, we mentioned that Denise Quiñones, co-star of the “Smallville” episode "Vengeance", in which she played the "Avenging Angel," will be playing Rachel, a potential love interest for A.C in the show.


Hey Aquaman, You're Fired!
Either he hadn't waxed where it matters or simply feared 'the deep end', because the new 'Aquaman', Will Toale, has been given his marching orders.

Swimming into the series "Mercury Reef" instead, will be newcomer Justin Hartley.

Typically, the network has issued an expected 'no hard feelings' statement concerning the switcheroo.

"Will is a talented actor with a promising career and we hope to work with him in the future,"EDITOR'S NOTE: ASSUMING ANYONE EVER FINDS HIS BODY? a CW spokesman said. "We have made the decision to go in a different direction with the Aquaman role and wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavors." EDITOR'S NOTE: AS LONG AS NONE OF THEM INVOLVE ACTING?

It's believed that the decision to recast the lead role of Aquaman/A.C Curry came about with the merger of the WB with UPN. The big wigs at the newly-formed CW Network apparently still liked the idea of doing an 'Aquaman' series - they just wanted a new man to wear the orange slip-on. They auditioned several actors, but ultimately decided on "Passions" star Hartley.

Also cast in the contemporary reinterpretation of the DC Comics character, are Ving Rhames as McCaffery and Denise Quinones as Rachel Starling.

"Smallville" executive producers/showrunners Miles Millar and Alfred Gough penned the script and are exec producing the pilot with Greg Beeman, who is on board to direct.

USA Adds New Cop Drama Psych
USA has greenlit another quirky cop drama with Psych, a one-hour series set to premiere this summer.

The network has ordered 11 episodes of the series, after having initially picked up the two-hour pilot back in June of 2005. Psych is expected to be paired with Monk, which returns to USA for its fifth season on July 7.

Psych stars James Roday as an amateur detective who pretends to have psychic powers that allow him to solve crimes. Roday’s most recent foray into series TV was the short-lived 2003 NBC drama Miss Match, which starred Alicia Silverstone.

The series is the first drama to be commissioned by USA since the network pulled the plug on its Kojak remake in 2005. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOD BLESS USA NETWORK, BUT THEY ARE OUT THERE TRYING SOME INTERESTING STUFF. (THEY ARE JUST ABOUT THE ONLY NET KEEPING THINGS ENTERTAINING IN THE 'OFF' SEASON).


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