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'Behrendt' Wants a Comfy Audience

August 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Being part of a studio audience can be a trying experience—just getting into a taping usually requires a couple of tedious hours of standing in line outside in fairly spartan conditions. Sony Pictures Television is doing something about that for its new talk strip "The Greg Behrendt Show"—it created an "audience experience" waiting area on its Culver City, Calif., sound stage that boasts beanbag chairs, flat-screen TVs, carpeting, soft lighting, vending machines and even Web access via Sony laptops. "We wanted to make the audience feel more a part of the show," Melanie Chilek, Sony's senior VP of programming, said at a recent taping. As the show shoots more episodes, the space will be used to interview audience members for polls, get instant feedback and make them a part of the show. The space also includes "Greg's Truth Booth," a refurbished photo booth that allows audience members to film confessional-like video clips. In a market where dozens of shows are always on the hunt for studio audiences, the space gives Sony a competitive advantage with audiences, Ms. Chilek said: "We wanted them to leave the show and say, 'Boy, I'd like to come back here because I had a great time.'" -Christopher Lisotta

The Father, The Sons and DirecTV

If DirecTV has a fantasy football team, it's all set at the quarterback position. The satellite company extended its agreement with Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning to act as spokesmen for its NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package through the 2008 season. A new commercial featuring home movies of the Manning men as young quarterbacks, illustrating how Sunday Ticket helps keep families together, began running over the weekend. -Jon Lafayette

Lighting Chicago's Fuse

Music network fuse is dancing its way to the Windy City-with its pants on. The Rainbow Media-owned channel, which has been getting a lot of media buzz for its late-night "Pants-Off Dance-Off" striptease program, is opening a Chicago ad sales office headed by Michael Roche, who had already been covering some of the territory. Sales are up 45 percent at fuse, and Bill Rosolie, senior VP of ad sales, said the network needed to be closer to service Midwest clients because of the customized, integrated and multiplatform deals that account for a big chunk of its business. As for the dress code in the office, "We'll sell it ["Dance Off"], but we'll stay away from the on-air part of it." -Jon Lafayette

Insider Trading

When CNBC is in a jam for sources, turns out it consults … its competition. Last week the following e-mail from a CNBC booking producer to a Bloomberg TV reporter made the rounds (complete with typos): "I am a booker with CNBC. I see that you cover tech for bloomberg. I was wondering if you could give me a hand with sources for H-P. I am trying to book a live interview this afternoon with someone who can talk about H-P earnings soon after they come out. There aren't any analysts available … and I've tried them all. Are there any fund managers, or people of that ilk that you think might be appropriate for the spot? Many Thanks." Ya think maybe somebody at that little organization known as NBC News might've been able to help? -Tom Gilbert