Briefly Noted

Feb 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Drug’s maker couldn’t have planned it better
American Home Products, which developed Prevnar, a meningitis vaccine, last spring bought time in a variety of 2000-01 programming-from Lifetime’s lineup and CBS’s “JAG” to Fox’s “Ally McBeal” and NBC’s “ER”-to advertise the drug.
After receiving a routine screening report from NBC about the Feb. 15 “ER” episode in which a Prevnar spot was scheduled to run, American Home Products asked to be placed first in the first commercial pod within the drama. One of that night’s key plot lines involved a child who died because his mother had refused to have him inoculated against measles, though some of the boy’s symptoms initially suggested meningitis.
The company hit the contextual jackpot when the network accommodated the request. “We were very lucky,” said a spokeswoman for Wyeth-Ayerst, American Home Products’ parent company.
Peacock hangs on to lead in February sweeps
Three weeks into the February sweeps, NBC is hanging onto a narrow lead in the key adult 18 to 49 demographics as Fox and CBS continued to make sharp advances at the expense of ABC’s deepening young-demo erosion.
NBC’s 5.5 rating/14 share average in adults 18 to 49 through three weeks (Feb. 1-21) has marked a 4 percent decline year to year in the demo, according to Nielsen Media Research national ratings. Fox, powered by demo wins on Sundays through Wednesdays for most of the sweeps, has moved up 6 percent to a second-ranked 5.1/13 in adults 18 to 49 and is just 8 percent off NBC’s lead.
Perhaps one of the bigger surprises has been CBS’s Thursday run of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which contributed to a 10 percent year-to-year increase in adults 18 to 49 (4.5/12) and a 17 percent jump in adults 18 to 34 (3.5/10). Also, CBS has passed ABC by one-tenth of a point in adults 18 to 49, while ABC’s 4.4/11 has suffered 25 percent year-to-year erosion. In adults 18 to 34, ABC’s 3.6/10 average is down 27 percent and holds only a narrow one-tenth of a point lead over CBS.
Leading the adult 18 to 34 race is Fox’s 5.3/15, garnering 2 percent growth, while second-place NBC’s 5.0/14 is flat year to year. The WB network has posted a 13 percent gain in adults 18 to 49 (1.7/4) and a 19 percent gain in adults 18 to 34 (1.9/5). UPN is down 6 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 17 percent in adults 18 to 49 with identical 1.5/4 scores in both demos.
`Survivor’ creator Burnett countersues Stillman
Mark Burnett, creator and executive producer of CBS’s “Survivor” series, filed a countersuit against ex-contestant Stacey Stillman seeking at least $5 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
Ms. Stillman, a San Francisco-based attorney, filed a suit Feb. 5 claiming that Mr. Burnett manipulated “Survivor” contestants to vote her off the island early in the original summer 2000 run of the series. The countersuit, filed Feb. 20, alleges she breached a confidentiality agreement and committed extortion and defamation and made disparaging remarks.
In the counterclaim filed in Los Angeles, Survivor Entertainment Group (SEG), charged that Ms. Stillman had “launched a campaign, based on extortionate threats and demands” by allegedly circulating a written solicitation to the other 15 contestants of “Survivor” which in part read: “What are you thinking in terms of how much to extort?”
Mr. Burnett’s countersuit claims that due to Ms. Stillman’s “intentional misconduct,” SEG “suffered and will continue to suffer special damages in the form of loss of revenue and profits from the reduction in the public interest in and ratings of the program.” In a voice-mail greeting left on her phone message service last week, Ms. Stillman stated that Mr. Burnett “breached my agreement” by deliberately manipulating the outcome of the tribal voting to banish her from the island early into the show.
CNNfn heavily invested in new lineup
For CNNfn, which will be retitled CNN Money by year-end, the evolution to a focus on personal finance begins Monday with lineup changes that will incorporate regular updates from “The Interpreter’s Desk,” which will translate market developments into terms accessible to all viewers.
Also being woven into the schedule are regular updates focused on personal finance (“Smart Assets”) and the global economy (“The Global Desk”).
The more sweeping changes include the expansion to two hours of signature show “Street Sweep,” which becomes the first program to be anchored live from the New York Stock Exchange during trading hours. “Street Sweep,” which will be telecast from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) weekdays, and is hosted by CNN business-news veterans Terry Keenan and Jan Hopkins.

McGinty co-anchors ABC overnight newscast
ABC News has hired Derek McGinty, a popular Washington TV and radio personality. Mr. McGinty will start March 4 as Alison Stewart’s co-anchor on “World News Tonight,” the network’s overnight newscast.