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It's the Viewers' Short Attention Spans, Bob!

October 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Why have most game shows disappeared from TV? Blink asked Bob Eubanks, who should know. He has hosted hundreds of episodes of "The Newlywed Game," "Card Sharks," "Trivia Trap," "Family Secrets" and "Dream House." He blamed today's viewers' short attention spans: "If you don't have something funny or outrageous every 10 minutes, they're gone. It's very hard to keep that up. If Jerry Springer didn't have a fight every 10 minutes, he'd lose his audience." He said "Newlywed" (he hosted four versions between 1966 and 1997) was a forerunner to reality TV shows like ABC's "The Bachelor," which he called a form of public "voyeurism." He shares more of his life in the newly published "It's in the Book, Bob!" written with Matthew Scott Hansen. Mr. Eubanks, 66, said it is about "interesting people he has met" while hosting game shows and as a TV and concert producer (who twice brought The Beatles to L.A.), a rodeo cowboy, manager for Dolly Parton and others, a nightclub owner and more. These days he addresses corporate groups and every New Year's Day hosts the telecast of the Rose Parade on L.A.'s Channel 5, as he has for 28 years.

-ALEX BEN BLOCK

O'Dell Stays `Hollywood'-Bound

"Access Hollywood" sparkplug Nancy O'Dell has good news and sad news. Ms. O'Dell, now in her ninth season on "Access," finally is about to sign her brand-new multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract that's been in the works since last summer, when Billy Bush succeeded Pat O'Brien as her co-host. However, Ms. O'Dell, a country music aficionado, is going to have to give up her weekend gig of the past two seasons hosting USA Network's live "Nashville Star" competition. "Star" is expected to switch to Tuesday nights for its third season, which is scheduled to start in March and film in Nashville. Ms. O'Dell's increased commitment to "Access" and her new co-host-"I adore Billy," she said- does not accommodate two-day midweek commutes to and from Nashville for nine weeks. "I love country music and I will so miss it," Ms. O'Dell told Blink. Season-to-date, the O'Dell-Bush Monday-through-Friday edition of "Access" is the top-rated entertainment magazine show among households and the 18 to 49 demo in the top five markets, according to Nielsen data.

-MICHELE GREPPI

Hit Predictor

It may have been a surprise to the rest of us, but ABC's success with "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" was predicted by a new programming development tool called PropheSEE, which Initiative, after a year of testing, is about to roll out. The idea is to tap into the buzz about new shows based on Internet chatter monitored on more than 50 public sites. "We can track things four to five months before they premiere," said Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive VP and director of global research integration for the big agency. She said the data would be used to tweak ad packages. For example, if a character is breaking out on a series such as "Housewives," an advertiser could create a special backstory on ABC's Web site and sponsor that. "There is a lot of fear in the industry about what's next and what's going to happen if the consumer has all of the control," Ms. Koerner said. "The point is not what technology can do, but what do consumers want to do." Internet buzz, she said, can be a better predictor of long-term potential than early ratings.

-DAISY WHITNEY