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June 2007 Archives

King-Size DVD in Works for 'Battlestar Galactica'

June 24, 2007 9:00 PM

NBC Universal Media is planning an extended-edition DVD to accompany Sci Fi Channel's upcoming "Battlestar Galactica" two-hour extended episode airing this fall.

To help build anticipation for the return of the series in early 2008, the studio will release a DVD version of the self-contained episode that includes about 15 minutes of original material -- perhaps more, depending on the final cut.

The episode will air in November. -- James Hibberd

NBCU's Latest Volunteer Fair Goes to the Dogs

June 24, 2007 9:00 PM

Earlier this month, NBC Universal brought multiple volunteer opportunities to its employees at a daylong event held in "Saturday Night Live's" Studio 8H at 30 Rock. It was so successful that NBCU President and CEO Jeff Zucker pledged to ante up $100,000 to stage similar events in other major NBCU markets.

Since the first volunteer fair in 8H last December, the NBCU volunteers in the New York tri-state area have beat their projected participation. At the latest fair, a corporate representative said, some 1,200 employees packed and labeled 13,000 food packages, made 1,000 senior-care kits, created 600 craft kits and get-well cards for ailing children and painted two murals for local hospitals for City Harvest, United Way of NYC, Project Sunshine and the Foundation for Hospital Art -- all without any extreme loss of man-hours to NBCU.

Adding to the warm and fuzzy mood this time was the presence of animals up for adoption from the ASPCA of NYC, a pet project of Frank Accarrino, VP of news and entertainment operations (co-chairman of the NBC tri-state chapter of parent company General Electric's volunteers), and wife Letitia, whose household includes two shelter cats.

For Tina Ryan, wardrobe supervisor for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," it was love at first sight of a Yorkshire terrier mix, then named Lucky, whose short life has been a dramatic one: abandoned at a garbage dump with a serious injury that required a delicate life-saving operation. Ms. Ryan had been without a pooch since the death a couple of years ago of Lucy, a Cairn terrier she had adopted from "The Will Rogers Follies." Lucky was quickly renamed Frankie, and Ms. Ryan's new Yorkie baby has "100 percent" bonded with her and her husband. And he's into TV -- NBC and "Late Night," of course.

"He just sits there in front of the TV and cocks his head one way and the other," Ms. Ryan bragged. "He is brilliant, I tell you."

Next goal: for Frankie to appear in a remote with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a milestone the late Lucy achieved. (Triumph took liberties with her, if you get Blink's drift.) Don't think the possibility of a Frankie-Triumph sketch hasn't already been raised, but Triumph will ruin his reputation as an insult stud if he takes the same kind of liberties with Frankie. If you get Blink's drift. -- Michele Greppi

Calling All Warriors

June 24, 2007 8:59 PM

Scrawny video game geeks need not apply to a new promotion from G4, which airs "Ninja Warrior," a Japanese import in which competitors attempt to conquer a grueling obstacle course. G4 plans to send an athletic viewer to Japan to try his luck on the show. Would-be Ninjas should upload a video of themselves to g4tv.com/ninjawarrior.

Viewers will vote and finalists will appear on G4's "Attack of the Show." The winner will appear on a special G4 program after his trip to Japan in the fall, to be followed by a new episode of "Ninja Warrior" on which the winner will compete.

While the network says videos should show strength, agility, flexibility and stamina, it warns that entries with dangerous or illegal activities will not be considered. -- Jon Lafayette

Animated Weekend

June 24, 2007 8:59 PM

"Heroes" cast member James Kyson Lee has been inked to guest host Anime Network's "Anime Access" series, which goes behind the scenes at various anime events.

Mr. Lee -- who plays Hiro's BFF Ando Masahashi on the hit NBC series -- will hit Long Beach, Calif., this weekend, accompanied by a crew, to capture the highlights of Anime Expo, North America's largest anime convention. The show will be telecast Aug. 16. -- Tom Gilbert

ESPN Making Sporty Wishes Come True

June 17, 2007 9:00 PM

ESPN staple "SportsCenter" is assembling its own dream team for the summer. For the second year, five Make-a-Wish Foundation children will be featured as part of "SportsCenter's" "My Wish" series from June 24 through June 28.

This year, the program selected Dannielle Krause, Devan Muller, Noa Ornellas, Jennifer Walters and Stephan Zepeda-LoColst to participate. Each of the children has been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition and was granted a unique sports-related fantasy involving sports superstars.

This year, the participating athletes include NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, NBA star Dwyane Wade, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, baseball's David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and football's Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.

The segment will again be hosted by reporter Chris Connelly and is sponsored by The Walt Disney Co. -- Chris Pursell

Feeling Punchy?

June 17, 2007 9:00 PM

They say upfront negotiations are going to be tough this year. But are media buyers really going to need boxing gloves? Oxygen thinks they will. The network this week will be parking a mobile boxing ring outside agencies, encouraging buyers to practice their punching and kickboxing. The hardest punchers will win prizes.

In addition to releasing some of their frustration, the stunt should remind the buyers of Oxygen's new show "Fight Girls," which had its debut last week. Oxygen also will be providing buyers with energy drinks, protein brownies and other healthy snacks, as well as desk-top punching bags bearing the Oxygen logo. -- Jon Lafayette

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

June 17, 2007 9:00 PM

CNBC, which traffics in financial data and dynamics that can help viewers get rich or stay rich, takes a six-part look at the more colorful underbelly of the American Dream in a six-week series, "American Greed: Scams, Scoundrels and Scandals," premiering at 10 p.m. Thursday (with a repeat at 1 a.m.).

The first story involves a skilled fisherman and a Ponzi scheme that relieved more than 50 people of some $2 million before a small-town cop tracked the scam artist from the coast of New Hampshire to Reno, Nev. The first hour also includes a look inside a West Hollywood art heist that's still one of the FBI's 10 top unsolved art crimes.

The series is produced by Kurtis Productions, the prolific company headed by Bill Kurtis, who anchored at WBBM-TV during CNBC President Mark Hoffman's tenure as news director at the CBS-owned Chicago station. But Mr. Hoffman didn't buy the series out of friendship. "It's a fascinating topic," the CNBC executive said. -- Michele Greppi

Easy on the Dom

June 17, 2007 9:00 PM

Memo to all who want to congratulate Ben Silverman for being named co-chairman (with Marc Graboff) of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, or for having a stake in the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards earned by NBC's "The Office" and ABC's "Ugly Betty": Don't send him any Dom Perignon champagne -- Mouton Rothschild is his libation of choice.

The many bottles of Dom he received after being kissed by NBC Universal and being turned from an independent supplier into a network buyer of programming have been re-gifted, he confided to Blink at the May 28 Peabody luncheon in New York.

Also nice to know: "I love creative people and want to have an open door" to the creative community, he said, adding a caution: "We won't necessarily buy everything" that's pitched. -- Michele Greppi

Falling Into Fitness

June 17, 2007 9:00 PM

The perils of stuntwork are well known, but there's an upside to all the physical exploits required of its practitioners: They usually have to be in top shape to ply their trade -- that is, if they don't end up buffed out because of it.

Just look at industry vet Sandy Gimpel, who at age 67 recently released an exercise DVD, "StuntBlasters Workout." Ms. Gimpel has done the dangerous work for stars including Susan Lucci, Sally Field and even Sarah Jessica Parker, who's young enough to be her daughter. Impressive stuff.

But for those of you who may fear overdoing it, there's one thing her workout program guarantees: It will never make a woman "look like a gladiator girl." -- Tom Gilbert

Barker’s Last Stand? Maybe Not

June 9, 2007 11:00 AM

After 35 years of hosting "The Price Is Right," Bob Barker greeted his final Contestants’ Row last week, taping his last episode and starting his retirement. Replacing the 83-year-old legend hasn’t been easy for CBS, however. The number of auditions is running well into double digits. CBS sources said the first priority has been giving Mr. Barker a proper send-off; finding a replacement has been second. But the hunt will go into overdrive after the final episode airs June 15. "Price" production typically starts in July for a September debut, but a firm production date will not be set until CBS figures out who will host. One option: Mr. Barker, who told reporters last week he would be happy to fill in if needed. CBS insiders didn’t think Mr. Barker was serious about the offer, but are certainly willing to take him up on it should he turn out to be truly irreplaceable. -- James Hibberd

Mugging at ‘The View’

June 9, 2007 11:00 AM

Historically speaking, the last "View" souvenir coffee mug depicting Rosie O’Donnell as a member of the ensemble may not rank up there with the chairs that Archie and Edith Bunker sat in for eight years on "All in the Family," which now reside in the Smithsonian Institution. Nevertheless, "The View’s" summer 2007 mug does represent a year-long stretch of TV history, and it is available for $15.95 from the ABC-TV online store (www.abctvstore.com). You better get one while you can: It’s the most popular "View" mug ever and has even boosted sales of the spring and winter mugs from the year of living dangerously with the hot-tempered Ms. O’Donnell. The latest mug—on which caricatures of "the ladies" of "The View" cavort with surfboards against a soft yellow background—was introduced the week before Ms. O’Donnell and co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck had what proved to be their final argument on May 23. According to a "View" spokesperson, first-week sales for the summer mug were six times the level of sales for the spring mug. A back order was made in record time—mdash;more than doubling the initial order—and additional mugs are expected to be available for shipping June 18. "Rosie’s mug has sparked a frenzy with fans and viewers as they recognize it will be a collector’s item," said the spokesperson. Plus, it’s just the right size for tossing during a political argument. --Michele Greppi

More News Is Good News

June 9, 2007 11:00 AM

The BBC is perhaps best known for news, and BBC America has hired CBS veteran Rome Hartman—who was executive producer of the "CBS Evening News" when Katie Couric became anchor—mdash;to executive-produce a new hour-long evening newscast for the U.S. cable channel. The project was pushed by new BBC America Worldwide President Garth Ancier. The show will be a cornerstone of the weekday evening schedule when it launches from Washington in the fall. At "CBS Evening News," Mr. Hartman had a strong start with Ms. Couric as anchor before ratings tanked and Mr. Hartman was replaced. So does the U.S. need another nightly newscast? Mr. Hartman says Americans who are interested in "smart and sophisticated" coverage of the world need one, and what the BBC does is "cover the world in a way that no one else is attempting to do." Details about the program are still to be worked out, but it won’t be covering things like Paris Hilton being dragged back to jail. "The audience that comes to the BBC is tuning in not to see that story," he said. BBC America now airs a half-hour newscast produced in the U.K. The new show will be separate from that and the BBC newscast appearing on PBS stations. --Jon Lafayette

'Jericho' Nuts Bound for Iraq

June 9, 2007 11:00 AM

In a turn of events that will surely inspire college term papers about our entertainment-driven culture, U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq will soon snack on nuts mailed by angry "Jericho" fans to protest the show’s cancellation. CBS’s decision last week to renew "Jericho" for seven episodes halted the bombardment of peanuts to its New York offices, but the network was still left with the lingering question: what to do with 41,000 pounds of nuts? The nut-stuffed boxes were shipped to head of scheduling Kelly Kahl and programming chief Nina Tassler via nutsonline.com (which smartly jumped into the "Nuts to Jericho" protest early on). CBS opted to donate its nut reserves to City Harvest (which provides food to homeless shelters in New York City) and Staten Island Project Homefront (which sends food to U.S. armed forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan). The CW recently faced a similar issue with "Veronica Mars," with fans sending bags of marshmallows to protest the show’s doom. Except the "Mars" effort generated only about a hundred bags, failed to save the show, and the network employees largely ate them. Emboldened by last week’s "Jericho" announcement, however, "Mars" fans plan to reboot their campaign, only this time will send Mars bars.

Will Moseley Be Skiing's Lift Ticket?

June 4, 2007 12:00 AM

Olympic Gold Medal moguls ace Jonny Moseley has bought a stake in Tennis Channel founder Steve Bellamy's new venture, the Ski Channel. Mr. Moseley will be a spokesman for the channel, host a show and star in an instructional series the network plans to produce.

Since ending his illustrious career as a competitive skier, Mr. Moseley has launched a TV career that has seen him slalom as guest host of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and schuss as host of MTV's "Real World/Road Rules Challenge." He has appeared on a number of other channels and as a corporate spokesman. "Jonny is to skiing what Michael Jordan is to basketball or Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras are to tennis," said Mr. Bellamy, who landed Mr. Agassi and Mr. Sampras as early investors in the Tennis Channel but is no longer affiliated with it.

Mr. Moseley said, "Our whole industry is going to benefit significantly from the Ski Channel just like golf, tennis, the NFL, auto racing and the NBA have benefited from their networks." The Ski Channel plans to launch on video-on-demand in first quarter 2008 and has a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable. -- Jon Lafayette

1-Down: New Name for Griffin's Game Show

June 4, 2007 12:00 AM

Game show fans looking for "Let's Play Crosswords" this fall will need to reset their TiVos.

Syndication entrepreneur Merv Griffin, along with partner the William Morris Agency and distributor Program Partners, decided they could do better with a new moniker for the show. And what better brand recognition exists in the game-show genre than Mr. Griffin himself? With hits like "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" to his credit, what about changing the program's name to ... "Merv Griffin's Crosswords"? That's what they settled on.

Although executives at Program Partners would not comment on the name change, stations were made aware of the switch several weeks ago. Last month, casting notices looking for contestants for the renamed syndicated strip were distributed throughout Los Angeles. In addition, the Web site Mervgriffinscrosswords.com was registered to the Griffin Group of Beverly Hills on May 24.

The name change was no surprise to Blink. After all, Mr. Griffin said earlier in the year that the title "Let's Play Crosswords" didn't seem right and speculated about changing it.

The Shot Heard 'Round NBC's World

June 4, 2007 12:00 AM

The 2007 U.S. Open's opening-round tee shot is set to run on not one, not two, but 11 NBC Universal platforms. That includes seven networks under the company umbrella&mdash:NBC, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Sci Fi and Universal HD&mdash:as well as four Web sites: NBC.com, NBCSports.com, MSNBC.com and CNBC.com.

Joining "Today" in progress on June 14, the networks' airing of the "champions pairing," featuring Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy and Richie Ramsay, begins 16 hours of live U.S. Open coverage for NBC Sports, all under the moniker of "NBC U.S. Open Roadblock Presented by Lexus." -- Chris Pursell

Finke'd Out

June 4, 2007 12:00 AM

Though few news outlets were willing to admit it, Nikki Finke, on her Deadline Hollywood blog, broke last week's blockbuster news that producer Ben Silverman was taking over Kevin Reilly's duties at NBC.

Ms. Finke's first post on Friday not only scooped the competition (whose initial hesitant stories on the matter made vague references to "online reports" breaking the news), but also sent the entire NBC dealmaking team into frantic overdrive through the Memorial Day weekend. NBC insiders were furious about both the leak and Ms. Finke's "mean" comments about their executives during a difficult transition.

Mr. Silverman called the weekend "hell" because of the unexpected report. "I hate the blog world," said Mr. Silverman, who Ms. Finke wrote had a "high-flyin' lifestyle" and a private plane that served as his "moveable frat." Mr. Silverman's take: "It ends up interfering with people's lives. It messes with the process. And I've never been on a private plane!" Replied Ms. Finke: "In Hollywood, the truth hurts." -- James Hibberd