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November 2007 Archives

So Many Saying So Much With So Little

November 25, 2007 10:24 PM

Picture your week in three words. That deceptively simple concept has really caught on with “Good Morning America Weekend” audiences, resulting in some moving video postcards-from-the-heart that viewers have submitted to ABCNews.com. It’s hard not to be touched by what people share and how they share it: Pregnant tummies are favorite bulletin boards (“We’re having triplets” is written across the substantial midsection of one mother-to-be, who is posing with a big-brother-to-be and father-to-be); so are plain cardboard and posterboard (“It still hurts,” writes a woman whose mother died eight months before) and hands (a woman’s right palm reads “My Rapist” and her left palm reads “Jailed!”—then she gives two thumbs up). “We wanted to leave you a slobbering mess in your bathrobe,” said weekend “GMA” co-anchor Bill Weir, who anchored the ABC News summer magazine show “i-CAUGHT,” where the feature debuted. Mr. Weir championed the original “Your 3 Words,” posting his own Webcam solicitation of entries (“Don’t Grow Up,” he wrote on the palm of his hand), and its revival on “GMA,” where it airs on alternate Saturdays. The response rate has grown from 250 submissions for its “i-CAUGHT” debut at the end of August to some 200,000 videos posted on ABCNews.com’s “i-CAUGHT” page since the feature first appeared on “GMA” Oct. 27. The fast-growing archive has generated almost as many page views as entries. “This is … more useful than YouTube in many ways, because we can offer something online that gets right out onto big-time TV. And anyone in the world can participate,” said Michael Clemente, senior executive producer of ABC News Digital Media. “It’s nice to text vote on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or ‘American Idol,’ yet this is your face, your kids or your pet and your three words with no filter.” Mr. Weir said there has been much internal discussion about why “3 Words” has connected with so many people; he believes it has something to do with allowing people to be part of a bigger conversation even if they are not personally affected by the big story of the moment. “We forget that there really are 8 million stories in the naked city,” Mr. Weir said.
—Michele Greppi

The Eyes Have It

November 25, 2007 10:24 PM

If you blinked while watching the Fox network during September and October, you might have missed the quick, unexplained appearance during shows of the glowing red eyes and robot head of the Terminator. The animated image appeared and disappeared without explanation—a pretty radical promotional tease that immediately sparked a good deal of Internet buzz. Not to fret: There’ll be another chance to catch the promo starting tonight, when the animations return to the network as part of a “lower-thirds promo campaign” shown on the bottom third of the TV screen during in-progress programs. This time the promos, developed and produced by Los Angeles-based animation studio Buster, not only include the Terminator’s eyes and head, but also reveal the name of Fox’s new show “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” which debuts over the course of two nights, Jan. 13-14. The promos also direct viewers to the show’s promotional Web site, takebackthefuture.com.
—Tom Gilbert

The Swag Report

November 25, 2007 10:24 PM

Sci Fi Tin Man Board Game Item: “Tin Man” board game

Company: Sci Fi Channel

Promoting: The Dec. 2 premiere of “Tin Man,” Sci Fi’s reimagining of “The Wizard of Oz”

Description: Like Candyland and similar games, this is essentially a race along a path—in this case, a yellow brick road. If you land on an emerald, you draw a potluck card such as “Toto knows a shortcut; move forward four spaces.”

Better idea: Make your own Sci Fi Channel game cards such as, “ComicCon fans like your pilot; advance two spaces” and “Writers strike—no progress for three turns.”
—James Hibberd

Jump-Starting the New Year

November 25, 2007 10:23 PM

Discerning audiences seeking an offbeat way to ring in 2008 may want to consider ESPN’s “New Year: No Limits” broadcast from the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Dec. 31. The action will feature action sports stars Robbie “Maddo” Maddison and Rhys Millen performing two never-before-seen stunts: a world-record motorcycle jump the length of a football field and a never-before-executed truck back-flip. The three-hour special is slated to air immediately after the network’s coverage of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl earlier in the evening. The event will be co-hosted by Joe Tessitore and Mark Schlereth and will feature a yet-to-be-announced musical act. At the stroke of midnight ET, following the telecast’s split-screen view of the Times Square ball drop, viewers will see Mr. Maddison’s bike jump. Mr. Millen’s flip will be performed at midnight PT. The Rio will transform its parking lot into an action sports venue for the event.
—Chris Pursell

E! in the Spirit

November 25, 2007 10:22 PM

E! Entertainment Television is doing its part again this holiday season. Through its “Play-a-Part” initiative, E! will join forces with Children’s Miracle Network for the second annual “Cards for Kids” campaign, which raises funds for children’s hospitals across the U.S. Viewers are encouraged to log on to E! Online, where they can send free holiday e-cards featuring the work of children’s book illustrators including David Kirk (“Ms. Spider”) and Eric Carle (“The Hungry Caterpillar”), plus that of HIT Entertainment artists (“Barney,” “Bob the Builder,” “Angelina Ballerina”). Cards sent to family and friends, along with a donation from E!, help support the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
—Tom Gilbert

Tell Us What You Really Think, Ben

November 11, 2007 9:10 PM

NBC Co-Head of Entertainment Ben Silverman calls out his former boss, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson, as well as his former colleague at NBC, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, in the December issue of Esquire.

“Traditionally, development executives rise through a specific subsection of the TV business—prime time, network, scripted programming. They’re basically D-girls,” Mr. Silverman told the magazine. “That’s what Steve McPherson is, that’s what Kevin Reilly is. That’s bad vernacular, but they’re all D-girls,” the magazine quotes Mr. Silverman saying, using a derogatory term for an attractive low-level female executive with little power.

Mr. Silverman also called Mr. McPherson, his former boss at ABC, a “moron” in the interview.

“I delivered him a huge hit that he didn’t want: ‘Ugly Betty.’ He hated the show, he didn’t want America Ferrera, he didn’t understand why I pitched it to him 17 times and wouldn’t stop,” Mr. Silverman said in the magazine. “[Mr. McPherson] is a sad man, like a miserable guy stuck operating as an executive,” he continued.

Mr. McPherson and Mr. Reilly declined to comment on Mr. Silverman’s comments. The interview was posted on Esquire’s Web site last week; the issue hits newsstands Nov. 17.
-Andrew Krukowski

Card-Carrying Fans

November 11, 2007 9:00 PM

On Thanksgiving Day, those Dallas Cowboys fans who might not be able to watch the NFL Network because it hasn’t reached a carriage deal with Time Warner Cable still will be able to get a good look at the channel’s talent.

Football card company Donruss will hand out 20,000 free packs of Cowboys trading cards to fans attending the holiday game against the New York Jets at Texas Stadium.

Each pack includes one of four NFL Network announcer cards. While many fans already have seen cards of former NFL stars Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk, it’s a unique chance to get “Total Access” host Rich Eisen in mint condition.

The packs also contain a schedule of the eight games being televised by NFL Network, including two other Cowboys matches.
-Jon Lafayette

In the Zone

November 11, 2007 9:00 PM

They might not be in the dictionary, but the words “celebuspawn” and “borefriend” are in the midst of driving a November sweeps promotion.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Telepictures Productions are launching a national Celebuwreck Sweepstakes on behalf of rookie syndicated entertainment newsmagazine “TMZ” that will feature the celebrity-driven vocabulary created by the site.

“TMZ Words of the Day” is a two-week watch-and-win consumer promotion that runs Nov. 12-23 and offers as a grand prize an all-expenses paid trip to the Thirty Mile Zone for a tour of Hollywood, “TMZ” style.

“‘TMZ’ is quickly becoming recognized as the entertainment newsmagazine that covers Hollywood in a way no other show does, and we wanted to come up with a compelling promotion that captures the program’s unique point of view,” said Susan Kantor, senior VP of marketing, for both WBDTD and Telepictures.

Daily prizes will be awarded throughout the promotion, with the grand prize winner to be chosen after the sweepstakes concludes.

-Chris Pursell

Acting Out

November 11, 2007 9:00 PM

If former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson really has his heart set on being president as opposed to returning to acting, he needs to study up on the role of presidential candidate.

Last week in New Hampshire, Mr. Thompson showed surprising lapses in the basics: He took just four questions all day at three public events—this in a state where voters prize their right to question candidates extensively. Further, at one stop, he spent almost no time greeting supporters, some of whom sat waiting more than an hour to see him.

His campaign in New Hampshire already is suffering from suggestions that the little time he has devoted to visiting the state—last week’s appearance was only his third or fourth—betrays a lack of commitment.

Mr. Thompson is also the only candidate who has declined to participate in two campaign series put together by ABC affiliate WMUR-TV in Manchester, the state’s main commercial station.
-Ira Teinowitz

Meet the Press

November 11, 2007 9:00 PM

Republican presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani may be known for security issues, but he’s promising that if he becomes president he’d also bring back a rarely used public forum called the presidential news conference.

Mr. Giuliani said he got used to regular news conferences as New York’s mayor.

“As president, I’d probably have many more press conferences than anyone since Kennedy,” he said. “I enjoy doing them. They keep me on top of things. They do mean you make a few more mistakes, because when you answer a lot of questions and you are a little more open about it, you are going to have to go back and correct what you said. But it’s much better. It keeps you on your toes and much more able to figure out the situation that day.”
-Ira Teinowitz

‘GMA’ Narrows Halloween Ratings Gap

November 4, 2007 9:00 PM

The mood at "Good Morning America" was as high as a kid on a sugar rush the day after Halloween, when fast affiliate data from Nielsen Media Research showed "GMA" trailing NBC’s "Today" costume extravaganza by the narrowest margin since 1991: 39,000 viewers, according to "GMA." But according to "Today"—whose traditionally Halloween-happy ensemble dressed up as the Munsters—the gap was 97,000 viewers. Either way, it’s a significant achievement: It’s not unusual for "Today" to have a Halloween lead of 1 million or more viewers. At NBC, the argument is that the final national data, due out Thursday, tends to add to "Today’s" total viewership and that "GMA" was likely the beneficiary of its heavily promoted live interview of Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas, who were surprisingly evicted from "Dancing With the Stars" Tuesday night. Naturally, "GMA" senior exec producer Jim Murphy chooses to see the Halloween numbers as part of a broader trend. "We have consistently cut their lead this season," Mr. Murphy said. "Everybody is in sort of high gear right now." Mr. Murphy quietly tweaked the ABC News theme music and slipped it on air a couple of weeks ago, along with a sunnier opening graphic. The set’s a bit different, too, with an intimate seating arrangement now in the bay window overlooking Broadway and the anchor desk in a cozy spot away from the window. The point of the changes, Mr. Murphy said, was to get away from a cityscape that can be dark and dank during the winter and use different seating options elsewhere in "GMA’s" Times Square Studio. "It’s a new season," he said. "We’re just doing some brushing up."
—Michele Greppi

Barker Honors

November 4, 2007 9:00 PM

Bob Barker, come on down! The National Association of Broadcasters announced last week that the longtime host of "The Price Is Right" will be inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame during an NAB Show Television Luncheon April 14—mdash;part of the organization’s annual trade show in Las Vegas. Mr. Barker, who just retired after 35 years as the show’s host, is being recognized as an "enduring figure for millions of television viewers," said NAB President-CEO David K. Rehr.
—Ira Teinowitz

In the Dark

November 4, 2007 9:00 PM

On Sunday night, NBC’s "Football Night in America" was planning to go dark as the network kicks off 150 hours of environmentally themed content across multiple NBC Universal networks and platforms as part of NBC Universal’s ongoing "Green Is Universal" initiative (see story, Page 1A). NBC Sports set the initiative to launch at 8 p.m. ET, during the lead-up to "Sunday Night Football." Host Bob Costas was scheduled to explain the programming effort as all of NBC Universal’s networks simultaneously turn their on-air network logos green. Producers scheduled the lights in Studio 8G to be turned off, with the "Football Night" crew, including Mr. Costas, co-hosts Cris Collinsworth and Keith Olbermann, as well as analysts Tiki Barber and Jerome "The Hybrid Bus" Bettis, doing the program in the dark through the halftime show. "This is going to be the first time a show deliberately shut out the lights," "Football Night in America" producer Michael Weisman said last week. "We are going to use our studio show platform to raise awareness for this global issue, while making sure we still serve our football audience and continue to focus on the day’s highlights and storylines in the NFL."
—Chris Pursell

New Fox Biz Faces

November 4, 2007 9:00 PM

Fox Business Network had a number of new faces in its lineup when it launched Oct. 15. Many of them were animated, especially the "Happy Hours" anchor team of Cody Willard and Rebecca Gomez. But none were more animated than Hoofy the Bull and Boo the Bear, who star in an original cartoon segment that debuts each Friday on "Happy Hour," the apres-market hour that originates from the Bull & Bear Bar at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. They also appear on other FBN shows, on foxbusiness.com and on minyanville.com, the Web site that has been home to Hoofy and Boo and their humorous take on the economy since they were created by former Wall Streeter and Minyanville founder Todd Harrison. The cartoon versions of the Wall Street icons also are "the two sides of my personality," said Mr. Harrison, who believes in financial infotainment for everyone, from kids to sophisticated investors.
—Michele Greppi