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.



Defining the Space Shot

July 18, 2005 12:00 AM

When the Discovery shuttle finally returns America to space, NASA will have 19 high-definition cameras on the ground and aboard nearby aircraft to capture the scene. There will also be a crew from Mark Cuban's HDNet at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to show the launch live. After the launch, the NASA HD footage becomes public domain. Discovery HD Theater plans to review those 19 caches of film and use the footage to put together a moment-by-moment re-creation, scheduled to run on the network during August. This isn't a first for the channel. Discovery HD Theater uses NASA footage regularly in specials and weekly three-minute interstitials about space exploration called "Exploring Our Universe." The channel also used NASA HD footage from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission earlier this year in a special. -DAISY WHITNEY

'Prison' Shooting

Networks often look for authentic locations, but Fox took production of its new drama "Prison Break" to the level of maximum security. "Prison," set in Chicago, is the first network drama since CBS's "Early Edition" to shoot totally on location in the Windy City. The producers took advantage of an actual prison now available for film and TV shoots. Joliet Prison, about 40 minutes outside Chicago, was recently mothballed by the state of Illinois and the inmates moved to a newer facility. The photogenic buildings are the backdrop used extensively in the shoot. A 20th Century Fox spokesman called the structure "ominous" and a "stone fortress" that adds to the show's authenticity. Blink hopes no one accidentally gets locked in overnight. "Prison" debuts Aug. 29 with a two-hour episode. -CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA

Gay Cable's New Star: Pat Buchanan

Politics makes strange bedfellows. The same is true for the new gay and lesbian channel here! TV, which is set to premiere "Birch & Company," a talk show hosted by Elizabeth Birch, a well-known activist involved in gay and lesbian political issues. Her debut show features Rosie O'Donnell, a logical choice. But in her second show she goes one-on-one with conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, no friend to the gay and lesbian community. Producer Rick Scott said in a press release he was "amazed" at the number of political figures, particularly from the right, who have agreed to appear on the show. Commentators Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, as well as left-leaning Howard Dean, Al Gore and Ted Kennedy, are all confirmed guests. "Birch" premieres Aug. 12. -CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA