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December 2006 Archives

A Whole New Wardrobe for Nancy O'Dell

December 18, 2006 12:00 AM

It ain't easy for the co-anchor of a chatty Hollywood show to keep her pregnancy a secret until the magical first trimester has been passed. But "Access Hollywood's" Nancy O'Dell did a pretty good job, considering she finally had to tell the show's wardrobe people "because my pants were starting not to fit." A wardrobe expense account item from A Pea in the Pod is not going to go unnoticed. "We finally had to tell the director because I just felt like before we said anything I was looking a little bigger than normal," Ms. O'Dell said. The director started shooting her more from the waist up, but "then I started getting all these e-mails from my friends who noticed that the shots were different. I'm like, `You guys are not supposed to be that TV-savvy,"' she said. Her first baby, due in July, will have two brothers, 7 and 11, sons of Keith Zubchevich, Ms. O'Dell's husband of 11/2 years, for whom T-shirts saying "I'm the Big Brother" and "I'm the Bigger Brother" already have been secured. "They're being so cute about the whole thing," Ms. O'Dell said. She's being pretty cute about the whole thing herself. -Michele Greppi

That's One Hot Tamale

Rosie O'Donnell has done a form of hard time for her "Ching-chonggate" debacle on "The View," in which she used stereotypical sounds to approximate the Chinese language-much to the ire of Asian Americans and other ethnic groups. So where would the jury stand on Sony Pictures Television's latest promotion for "Judge Maria Lopez": a small bottle of hot sauce, Latino-style, which is used to illustrate the show's slogan, "Justice Will Be Served Spicy" (presumably a reference to the Cuban American judge's heritage as well as to her, er, peppery personality). This leads Blink to wonder: If famed O.J. Simpson murder trial judge Lance Ito got a series, would the distributor send out promotional soy sauce?

-Tom Gilbert

A Garden Full of Texters

It's been a while since fans in New York's Madison Square Garden have had any great moments to watch. So that makes them the perfect audience for MSG Network to promote its series "The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden." One part of the promotion is a text-message contest with ClubTexting.com that allows Rangers hockey fans in the arena to win tickets and team memorabilia through Jan 13. (Fans without text-messaging capabilities, or those just worried they'll get hit by a puck while staring at their cellphones, can still win the low-tech way by dropping an entry through a slot in a box.) About 300 people sent text messages from their seats during the first game of the promotion. MSG Network has also been promoting the series by giving away 50,000 hot dogs around the streets of New York, and by wrapping three subway cars in promos for the show that create the feeling of sitting in the arena.

-Jon Lafayette

A Beast of a Movie Tie-In

While "Night at the Museum" might be a dream date for some National Geographic Channel viewers, it's also the name of the new Ben Stiller film being released by 20th Century Fox. A marketing tie-in was a natural-especially considering that Nat Geo is managed by the Fox Cable Networks Group. The promotion involves an online sweepstakes, the prize being a trip to Washington to camp out at the "Bizarre Beast" exhibition at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall. The lucky winner will spend the night watching Nat Geo shows and taking part in "Bizarre Beast" model-making workshops. They'll also get $5,000 worth of camping gear. In addition to the presence on the Web site, where a preview of "Night at the Museum" is available, the sweepstakes will get print and on-air support. -Jon Lafayette

Frosty the Mallrat

If you're looking for a way to keep the kids subdued while holiday shopping, here's the deal: Starting Thursday, CBS is hosting twice-a-day screenings of the network stalwart "Frosty the Snowman" in Simon Malls across the country, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, Miami and Minneapolis. OnSpot Digital Network has placed more than 30 digital screens throughout each mall, in such areas as food courts, center courts and other high-traffic areas, so there are plenty of vantage points from which to keep the little folks engaged. The screenings will run through Christmas Eve.

-Tom Gilbert

Will Needy Stations Be Kicked to `Curb'?

December 11, 2006 12:00 AM

Stations lamenting the dearth of new off-net strips for the 2008 season could soon be showing some "Enthusiasm." Though an HBO Films representative denied that such plans are in the works, cable and station sources are already hearing rumblings that HBO's critical darling comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" may make the move into syndication as early as 2008. Currently there are no (that's right, zero) syndicated off-net comedies in the pipeline for the 2008-09 season-a first for the industry in the digital era. That void is largely due to the reality-crazed and drama-heavy network lineups in recent seasons that left precious few comedies available with which stations could plug their schedules. That situation alone may have created a clamor for the Larry David series among program buyers scrambling for new product in their lineups. The pressing question is whether there will be enough episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to strip on a cable network and/or station group by 2008 or even 2009. There are currently 50 episodes in the can and another season in the works, which, by the time the series goes into syndication, could put the total number of shows at more than 70-low by most standards but not unheard of. In contrast, the 2009-10 season promises to show a dramatic off-net turnaround when series such as NBC Universal's "The Office" and Twentieth's "My Name Is Earl" are in position to enter syndication.

-Chris Pursell

CBS News Adds to Mitchell's Work Load

Russ Mitchell will join CBS's "Early Show" as news anchor, a role the well-populated morning show has not had in recent years. Added to his existing responsibilities, the new assignment, which starts Jan. 2, will make the omnipresent Mr. Mitchell the hardest-working anchor at CBS-and this only four weeks into his marriage to Karina Mahtani, who freelances entertainment reports to the network. In addition to the new weekday role, in which he will file reports and fill in when co-hosts are absent, Mr. Mitchell continues as anchor of the Sunday night "CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell," as one of the rotating anchors for the Saturday "Evening News" and as a correspondent for "CBS Sunday Morning." Mr. Mitchell joined CBS News in 1992 as an anchor of the overnight "Up to the Minute" broadcast.

-Michele Greppi

So Many Spinoffs, So Little Time

Even "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker can't keep up with all his spinoffs. At last week's Hollywood Radio & Television Society luncheon in Beverly Hills, Mr. Zuiker admitted that his TiVo is overloaded with "CSI," "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY" episodes. "I try to [watch them all]," he said. "It's very hard." Asked which city he would pick for-heaven forbid-a fourth "CSI" installment, Mr. Zuiker's choice was hardly a twist: Los Angeles. -James HIbberd

Last Hurrah for `Cheerleader' Promo

December 4, 2006 12:00 AM

You won't hear Mary Jo Smith, an actress and promo producer at The NBC Agency, whispering "Save the cheerleader, save the world" on the Peacock Network anymore. Now that the cheerleader has (we think) been saved on the hit "Heroes," the hottest catchphrase on TV this season has been retired. It's just as well, because "homages" to "Save the cheerleader" have spread to Fox's "American Dad" and ABC's "Ugly Betty," generally a sign that something is about to jump the shark. NBC had even taken to tagging the ear-catching whisper on the end of "Deal or No Deal" promos leading up to the heavily hyped "Homecoming" episode Nov. 20. When Blink referred to it as "subliminal" advertising, NBC Agency President and Creative Director Vince Manze said he prefers "ubiquitous." The slogan also ran in 5-second "adlets" on radio and on the giant NBCU screen at 5 Times Square. Tonight's installment, which NBC does not call a fall finale but "the final chapter until the new year," promised "tragedy, betrayal and a shocking revelation about an impending nuclear disaster!" Mr. Manze said that if we don't pay attention to the very end, we'll miss the new slogan that will have to tide fans over until the show returns Jan. 22. In the meantime, Blink thinks the "cheerleader" could do some good for NBC's struggling critics' darling, "Friday Night Lights." Imagine: "See the cheerleader, save the show."

-Michele Greppi

Great American Studio

They're knockin' down walls on Nashville's Music Row to make room for a new TV studio complex for Scripps Networks' Great American Country network. Construction is expected to begin soon on the 7,200-foot street-level complex at the network's headquarters in country music's heartland. The space was once the Cartee Day recording studio, where artists including Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts sang and strummed. The studio is expected to be finished by the end of 2007. At that point the network plans to move the bulk of its production in-house. Needless to say, the town folk are thrilled. "This studio is right where it should be," said Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, "near the artists, producers and businesses that are making music history every day."

-Jon Lafayette

The Silence of the Sweeps

The most amazing thing about this year's November sweeps? How thoroughly unamazing it was. No blockbuster miniseries, hit program marathons or celebrity-driven specials (sorry, NBC, "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" doesn't count). Programming executives cited the fall's extensive (and expensive) lineup of big-concept scripted fare as reason for wanting to stick with their regular lineups, as well as the decreasing importance of sweeps to advertisers now that people meters provide daily ratings from more markets. "Certainly sweeps don't carry the weight they had even a few years ago," said Kelly Kahl, senior executive VP of program operations at CBS, which eschewed stunting this November. "Our series are performing pretty well, and when that's the case you want to leave them on." Added ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson, "Stunting comes into play when things aren't working." The only obvious sweeps ploy was fourth-place Fox's planned O.J. Simpson quasi-confessional-which went away when News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch decided that crime doesn't pay and finally pulled the plug. -James Hibberd

Scion Goes Showbiz

Advertisers are so crazy for broadband that they're setting up their own Internet entertainment networks. Anheuser-Busch earlier this year announced plans to launch BudTV online, and today Scion, the funky offshoot of Toyota, launches Scion Broadband, a site offering such channels as Shorts, featuring films from what the company calls "emerging film industry players"; Music, with live shows, music videos and documentaries; and Series, with short-form episodic shows. A Friday Film will mark the end of the week. The site will also include sneak peeks of Scion commercials and video demos of new models. Scion sees its site as an alternative entertainment destination. "Our customer is very plugged in to the arts, but they are also plugged in online," said Adrian Si, Scion interactive manager. "We feel we can provide our audience with relevant content." Some of the content on the site is being acquired, but the company is also looking to produce original branded content early next year. -Jon Lafayette