TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



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