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Hollywood Notes

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Gaspin to up reality if strike occurs
On the heels of Jeff Gaspin being named earlier this month to executive vice president of alternative programming at NBC, media watchers had been speculating that the Peacock Network would reduce its four-times-a-week airings of newsmagazine “Dateline NBC.” Mr. Gaspin, best known for helping develop VH1 reality series “Behind the Music,” “Pop Up Videos” and “Storytellers,” suggested any immediate reduction in “Dateline” is “furthest from the truth,” proclaiming a close link with the newsmagazine staple.
“When I was at NBC News [as news producer and executive during the late 1980s and early 1990s], `Dateline’ was one of the shows that I helped [then-news-President] Michael Gartner launch, so it’s something still close to my heart,” said Mr. Gaspin, who is making the move from New York to NBC’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters next month.
But though Mr. Gaspin claimed not to yet have had any detailed programming discussions with NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, he did suggest that NBC may be more aggressive, “shifting” in more alternative reality series, backup comedies and dramas into the prime-time schedules this summer and next fall. Mr. Zucker, also a former NBC News colleague and “Today Show” executive producer, is said by sources to be keen on having Mr. Gaspin significantly ramp up reality series production in the event writers and actors going on strike this summer.
Moonves: Freshmen stand good chance
At a 2001-02 season development presentation to advertisers last week in New York, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves said four or five of CBS’s seven 2000-01 freshman shows will return for sophomore seasons. “Neither of our major competitors can even come close to that statistic,” Mr. Moonves boasted of this season’s frosh crop.
Struggling dramas “That’s Life” and “The Fugitive” are chief among the question marks for next season while dramas “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “The District” and sitcom “Yes, Dear” are considered sure bets to earn full-season renewals. Also on the bubble is comedy “Welcome to New York” and midseason cop drama “Big Apple,” the latter of which has seen its two of three outings drop dramatically in the ratings.
Mr. Moonves declined to discuss new reality projects in the pipeline except for the around-the-world competition being developed by Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) and Bert Van Munster (“Cops”) that has been retitled “The Amazing Race.” Other than “U.S. Justice,” a criminal justice reality pilot being considered for next season, plans have already been firmed for third and fourth versions of “Survivor” and, possibly, “Big Brother II” (for this summer).
Rosenthal becomes New Line president
New Line Television, a division of AOL Time Warner, has named veteran new media executive Jim Rosenthal as president of the Los Angeles-based production company. Mr. Rosenthal replaces Bob Friedman, who was recently named CEO of AOL Time Warner’s interactive TV division, AOL TV.
Mr. Rosenthal, formerly president of New Line Television’s new media and business development departments, will oversee TV production and development of such studio series as TNT’s “Breaking News” and USA Network’s “Kung Pow,” the latter of which is being developed for 2001-02 season. He will also manage New Line’s syndication division.
Stone Stanley names Marcus VP
Stone Stanley Entertainment, a major independent production company, has promoted Matthew Marcus to vice president of marketing and corporate communications.
Mr. Marcus is responsible for managing the overall corporate brand awareness for Stone Stanley and its properties. In this role, he oversees all marketing, publicity, merchandising and Internet efforts for the company. He has been responsible for the company’s promotional activity on reality series including ABC’s “The Mole,” The WB’s “Popstars,” Comedy Central’s “The Man Show,” Game Show Network’s “Mall Masters at Mall of America,” Pax’s “Shop `Til You Drop” and MTV’s “Loveline.”