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Gordon Gets Message on '24's' Dead Reckoning

March 13, 2006 12:00 AM

Fox's "24," which prides itself on taking risks and surprising its audience, took a big chance last week by killing off one of its major characters, computer expert Edgar Stiles, played by Louis Lombardi. In various chat rooms fans expressed negative reactions to the death, and no one is more aware of that than Howard Gordon, the show's executive producer and showrunner. As he told TelevisionWeek in our weekly after-show audio briefings (available free at TVWeek.com-click on the box at upper left labeled "Executive Briefing"), "I knew he was beloved, but I didn't know until he was gone how very beloved he was. And I guess that's how it is in real life too. It's really a testament to how Louie created this part and played this role." And with "24," now in its fifth season, doing even better in the ratings than last year, Mr. Gordon is also well aware of just how risky it was to kill Edgar. "We always have to renew [our] contract with the audience that anything is possible. … I hope we didn't cross that line of pissing off the audience. I don't think we did." Also available at TVWeek.com's Executive Briefing are weekly chats with "American Idol" exec producer Nigel Lythgoe. -Chuck Ross

One for the Shoppers

TV One is shopping for viewers at Wal-Mart. The network , which targets African Americans, has made a deal that puts segments of its programming on the in-store Premier Retail Networks, which serves 6,000 stores, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City and Costco, and reaches 250 million viewers each month, according to Nielsen Media Research. Also on the network is programming from Telemundo and Teen Vogue, targeted to specific audience niches. "The folks at TV One are the experts for this audience," said Tom Sebastian, PRN's senior VP of broadcast and programming. Among the TV One shorts running on PRN since last month are cooking tips from Gerry Garvin, host of "Turn Up the Heat With G. Garvin," and already the network is tasting success. "There's an absolute positive rub-off," said Keith Bowen, executive VP of advertising sales and marketing for TV One. "People who haven't had an opportunity to find us on the dial are now seeking us out."-Jon Lafayette

PBS Kids Idol?

Judges embark on a multicity talent search to find a single performer to appear on television in front of millions of devoted fans. Is that a logline for Fox's "American Idol"? Nope. It describes PBS Kids' national search for a new preschool host, a search that has gone better than expected. More than 1,500 applications from educators, children's performers, comedians and actors were submitted within PBS Kids' initial three-week window. "I have been amazed by the talent," said PBS Senior Director Stephanie Aaronson, noting that at auditions at WNET-TV in New York the host hopefuls were more likely to be teachers and indie film talent, while the L.A. auditions brought out more traditional TV actors. Best of all for PBS Kids, plenty of hopefuls have what it takes to succeed with their audience. "Many were very charming and authentic with great on-camera appeal to engage kids and build trust among parents [and] caregivers," she said. -Christopher Lisotta