July 31, 2006 12:00 AM
`Ugly Betty' vs. `La Fea Mas Bella'
Ben Silverman, one of the executive producers of ABC's Friday 8 p.m. (ET) drama "Ugly Betty," knows he's going to have tough competition when the show debuts in the fall. While inside-the-box thinkers are looking at CBS's "Ghost Whisperer" and Fox's "Nanny 911" as threats, Mr. Silverman sees a bigger threat-from Univision. The Spanish-language broadcaster is currently running the Mexican telenovela "La Fea M%E1;s Bella," which for the week ended July 24 propelled the network to No. 1 among women 18 to 34 weekdays at 8 p.m. Both "Betty" and "M%E1;s Bella" are adaptations of the Colombian powerhouse "Yo Soy Betty, La Fea," and "M%E1;s Bella" will be running until at least a few weeks after ABC premieres "Betty." But Univision's success could benefit Mr. Silverman if even part of the audience wants to see his English-language "Betty" story. "If I can capture half that audience," he said, plus pull in some other viewers, "we are going to win." Viva Betty!
Using a Web site to hype your new fall show is nothing new for broadcast networks, but NBC is wasting no time in building fan momentum for its new superhero drama "Heroes." Taking a page from the creators of ABC's "Lost" and the show's official fan site, Fuselage.com, "Heroes" creator Tim Kring has already set up a site for the future viewers of his show, at 9thwonders.com. The site is run by Craig Byrne, who started a similar Web page for The CW's "Smallville," and features commentary from the show's writers and artwork from Tim Sale, whose paintings are being used on the show. The Web is not the only place NBC is working "Heroes" or the artistry of Mr. Sale. At the Comic-Con comic book convention in San Diego two weeks ago, NBC handed out free copies of a limited-edition "Heroes" comic book from Mr. Sale and Mr. Kring. In what must be seen as a good sign by Mr. Kring, copies of the comic book are being offered online for as much as $35. Here's hoping the series lives up to the interest in the Web site and the comic book.
Net's Latest `Tube' Rube
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has been brutally derided on the Internet for his not-entirely-elegant statement in a Senate committee meeting that the Internet is "not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. Those tubes can get filled." The tape of his remarks has been turned into an Internet song (Myspace.com/tedstevensfanclub) and two segments on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." So how does Sen. Stevens, 83, feel about the ridicule? "It's a free country," he said, adding that if he were offered a guest shot on the TV show, "I'd consider it." Sen. Stevens made the statement as his committee considered adding a net neutrality requirement to legislation that would ease the way for telephone companies to offer cable TV without having to go city by city for franchises. A spokesman for Comedy Central had no immediate comment on whether Mr. Stevens would be asked to appear.