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Sleuthing Out the Future of NBCU's Trio's Channel

November 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Last week NBC Universal announced Sleuth, a new digital crime-and-mystery cable network set to launch Jan. 1 with repurposed broadcast fare such as "Miami Vice," "The A-Team" and "Knight Rider." But the real whodunit is figuring out what the announcement means for NBC's stepchild network Trio, which continues to pester NBCU cable entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin by virtue of its ongoing existence. Sources said NBCU plans to give Sleuth a distribution jump-start by rebranding Trio's channel space, just as Viacom sacrificed VH1 Mega Hits to make room for Logo earlier this year. The theory adds that Trio, whose Web site home page looks like a 2003 time capsule, might continue rerunning episodes of its ironically titled "Brilliant But Cancelled" in perpetuity via a broadband space. When asked about the purported plan, an NBCU spokesperson said: "We will have an announcement about Trio in three weeks." -James Hibberd

Start Yourself Over Online

Game show fans have always been able to get a home version of their TV favorites, but now a syndicated self-help strip is giving viewers a chance to re-create themselves without signing up for a multiweek stint on the show. NBC Universal's "Starting Over" launches its "Tell Your Friends You're Starting Over" program Nov. 14, which allows viewers and their friends to log on at the show's Web site and set up an e-mail-based support group. The program triggers regular e-mail checkups and updates, with occasional input from the "Starting Over" life coaches. Successful program participants will be mentioned on the air. Of course, the program won't have the capability of yelling at viewers looking to lose weight when they raid the fridge for a late-night snack. -Christopher Lisotta

TiVo for Two

Seems the video iPod is breathing new life into TiVo. The original digital video recorder still has a swarm of devotees willing to develop product extensions for free. Take Will Wagner, who, working from his garage in San Francisco with two other programmers, developed software that lets TiVo users with TiVoToGo capability automatically send recorded shows to a video iPod or a Sony PlayStation Portable or Palm device. "It's cool to see it in users' hands. We don't really have the wherewithal to sell it," Mr. Wagner said. Mr. Wagner's approach is not uncommon; astute hackers have been building TiVo add-ons for years-to wit: caller ID on the TV. But Mr. Wagner's software, available at TVharmony.com, can be used by the tech-savvy and -not-so-savvy. TiVo declined to comment on the new software. In the past the company has not endorsed such home-grown efforts, but neither has it stopped them if they don't run afoul of the law or copyright. After all, in a few years those loyalists may be the only users TiVo has left. -Daisy Whitney