TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



Who's Not Suing Whom?

August 23, 2004 12:00 AM

The legal punch-out between boxing reality shows "The Contender" and "The Next Great Champ" will continue despite a judge's refusal to issue a temporary restraining order to stop Fox Broadcasting from airing "Champ" as scheduled Sept. 10. Fox was sued in California Superior Court along with Endemol USA and Lock & Key by "Contender" producers DreamWorks Television and Mark Burnett Productions. What is surprising is who isn't involved. The "Contender" faction didn't name Golden Boy Promotions, "Champ" host Oscar De La Hoya's company. And NBC didn't join with the "Contender" producers. In a statement, NBC said the lawsuit "raises serious issues" and praised the court's decision to set a hearing date. NBC has been publicly critical of "Champ," but considering Endemol USA produces the network's hit "Fear Factor," it's hardly surprising it isn't part of the suit. A DreamWorks spokesman said Golden Boy was left off because, "We focus on those who want to air the broadcast." It might also be that DreamWorks doesn't want to make unnecessary waves with popular boxer Mr. De La Hoya, who may have other projects in mind someday. Even in a tough fight, it's good to hold some punches.

--Christopher Lisotta

Interactive 'Millionaire'

Buena Vista's hit syndicated series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," hosted by Meredith Vieira, is going the way of "Super Millionaire" and tinkering with its lifelines in hopes of replicating the success "Jeopardy!" found after its rule changes. For the new season, "Millionaire" is adding a fourth lifeline called Switch the Question, allowing contestants to skip a difficult question if they have already answered the first 10 (of 15). If used, that question is replaced. "We added an extra lifeline to give contestants further incentive to go for the higher dollar values on the show," explained executive producer Michael Davies, "ensuring more dramatic, high-stakes moments in the game." The even bigger news, per the producers, is what they are calling a "groundbreaking expansion" of the Ask the Audience lifeline. Contestants will now receive answers not only from the studio audience but also from millions of AOL Instant Messenger users (you don't have to be an AOL member to use its IM feature). Once the lifeline is triggered, an IM will go out to those who add the "MillionaireIM" screen name to their buddy list, so they will be able to answer in real time. This makes it the only syndie series incorporating a real-time interactive element.

--Chris Pursell

Nips and Tucks

Jillian Barberie and Dorothy Lucey have been replaced as Steve Edwards' sidekicks on Fox's national morning show "Good Day Live" by onetime "The View" gabber Debbie Matenopoulos and former "Extra" anchor Arthel Neville, but the unpredictable Ms. Barberie just keeps making us Blink. Two weeks ago she said on-air that her pal Pamela Anderson signed to appear on four episodes of the red-hot FX drama "Nip/Tuck." A flurry of phone calls later, spokespersons for FX and Ms. Anderson said the famously enhanced actress was "absolutely not" cast. Then last Thursday Ms. Barberie repeated her claim on the local show "Good Day L.A." Another flurry of calls ... and it's still not true. Why does Ms. Barberie keep announcing this phantom casting? A station rep wouldn't comment. Ms. Barberie's publicist said, "That's just Jillian. She says what she knows or hears." Even if it may not be true.

--James Hibberd