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Apr 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

‘NYPD Blue’ heading to TNT, Court TV

Steven Bochco is singing the “Blues” no longer.

After recently settling his case with Twentieth Television for what he considered to be below-market rates to FX, his company has now agreed to hand cable rights for “NYPD Blue” to both TNT and Court TV. The announcement was made jointly by Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer, Twentieth Television; Henry Schleiff, chairman and CEO, Court TV; and Steve Koonin, executive vice president and general manager, TNT.

“This was a wonderfully collaborative effort with Steven Bochco and we are all very excited about this new partnership with TNT,” Mr. Cook said.

Mr. Bochco added, “I’m grateful to Twentieth Television, along with Bob Jacquemin [Mr. Bochco’s representative], for their superb efforts in selling ‘NYPD Blue.’ We’re looking forward to a long and productive relationship with TNT.”

Episodes will begin airing as early as this fall on the two cable channels, with Court TV running episodes in prime time and on weekends while TNT will run the series in early fringe Monday through Friday. Early numbers estimate the show pulled in well more than $1 million per episode between the two cable networks.

“Not only is this a popular, well-known and well-recognized show, but in a noisy TV universe, we were excited to be able to acquire a series that fits in perfectly with our brand,” said Court TV’s Mr. Schleiff. “‘NYPD Blue’ combines strong storytelling and outstanding acting as it deals with important and timely issues that complement the brand-defining documentaries our network produces.”

Previously, the series pulled $400,000 per episode while running on FX. Bochco subsequently sued Twentieth for not getting fair market value by selling it to the Fox channel.

Fox Kids pencils in anime series: Fox Kids Network has added a new Japanese anime series, “Medabot,” for the Saturday morning schedule next fall. Fox Kids has ordered 26 episodes of “Medabot” from Nelvana Limited and Japan-based NAS/Kodansha.

The anime series takes place in the year 2122, when every kid owns a high-performance Medabot, pet robots with artificial intelligence that compete against each other in “Robattles” in a designated boxing ring.

Noting the growing popularity of robot-themed shows, Maureen Smith, president of Fox Kids Network and Fox Family Channel, said, “Every young child dreams of having a robot, almost as often as they fantasize about traveling into the future. ‘Medabot’ brings our viewer’s imagination to life with over-the-top action and out-of-this-world adventure.”

“Medabot” joins a Fox Kids lineup heavy on robotic action, including “Digimon: Digital Monsters,” with “Tae Kwon Dos,” “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” and “Shinzo” being readied for next fall.

‘West Wing’ whips ‘Boot Camp’: Returning to the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Wednesday lineup after a one-week departure, NBC’s “The West Wing” delivered a 13 percent margin of victory over Fox’s midseason reality game “Boot Camp” in the key adults 18 to 49 demographic.

“West Wing” scored a top-ranked 6.1 rating/16 share average in adults 18 to 49, posting a 7 percent increase over what a special 9 p.m. insertion of “Law & Order” (5.7/15) earned in the time period the previous week, according to comparable Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. “Law & Order” moved down one hour last week to make room for a special 10 p.m. airing of “Weakest Link.”

During the 9 p.m. hour, Fox’s “Boot Camp” remained flat week to week at a 5.4/14 in adults 18 to 49 while ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show” (4.9/13) and “Spin City” (4.1/10) scored 19 percent and 11 percent gains, respectively. “Spin City” returned to the lineup after giving “The Job” (starring Denis Leary) a six-week shot in the 9:30 p.m. time slot.

A repeat of “Law & Order” in the 10 p.m. slot Wednesday won the hour (6.1/16) but was down 23 percent from what “Weakest Link” (7.8/21) averaged last week in adults 18 to 49. ABC’s “Once and Again” (4.0/11) came in second in the hour, picking up 5 percent from its week-ago average (3.8/10).

ABC also got some continued good news in the 8 p.m. hour, with double runs of “My Wife & Kids” (4.8/15) winning the time slot despite dropping a slight 3 percent week to week (4.9/15). A repeat of NBC’s “Ed” (3.1/9) did only 3 percent better than what a rerun of “West Wing” (3.0/9) scored last week in the demo.

CBS’s three-hour airing of the movie “Contact” scored a fourth-ranked 2.6/7, marking 18 percent growth over the Eye Network’s week-ago evening average in adults 18 to 49. Overall, NBC won the night in adults 18 to 49 (5.1/14) but dropped 7 percent week to week. ABC (4.4/12) moved up 5 percent and Fox (4.7/13) held even week to week.

One win apiece for The WB, UPN: It was a flip-flop evening for The WB and UPN, with both trading wins in the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ET) hours Wednesday night. The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” posted a 4.3 rating/7 share household average and bested UPN’s “Special Unit 2” (2.8/ 4) in the 8 p.m. time slot by 54 percent in Nielsen Media Research’s metered markets.

However, UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” (4.8/7), embarking for the series-closing run during the May sweeps, improved 71 percent on its lead-in and beat WB’s “Felicity” (3.4/5) by 41 percent in the 9 p.m. hour.

MPAA considers killing film ratings system: The Motion Picture Association of America is threatening to kill the movie ratings system in response to legislation introduced Thursday by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., that penalizes entertainment companies for marketing adult-rated content to kids.

MPAA President and CEO Jack Valenti said he will recommend that Hollywood stop using the ratings if Congress enacts the bill and the courts uphold it.

“I think this legislation could be more accurately titled a death-sentence bill for voluntary film ratings,” he said, insisting the dramatic move would be “the only alternative left” to avoid putting studios at legal risk. He also called the measure an affront to the First Amendment: “The government cannot devise and enforce its own ratings system.” The measure received a key endorsement Thursday from New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said at a press briefing, “Parents need some assurance that the ads their kids are watching are not encouraging them to purchase a violent or sexually explicit product.”

The bill, also backed by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., empowers the Federal Trade Commission to penalize movie studios, music companies and video-game manufacturers found to be deceptively marketing adult-rated content to kids, including fare that is violent or sexually graphic or material that contains explicit language. These industries could sidestep penalties by adopting and enforcing strict codes of conduct, something only video-game makers have done.

The legislation comes on the heels of an FTC report this week that documented some improvement in the marketing practices of studios and video-game companies but said more needs to be done by all three industries. “The FTC report makes clear that the problem has not been entirely solved,” Sen. Lieberman said, insisting his bill does not censor content. Mr. Valenti said the threat of prosecution would effectively result in censorship.

Ness to leave FCC: FCC Commissioner Susan Ness announced Thursday that she will step down by June 1 whether the pending Bush administration appointments have been confirmed or not. When fully staffed, the Federal Communications Commission has five members.

It has been operating with four commissioners since the beginning of the year, when former Chairman Bill Kennard, a Clinton appointee, resigned. Ms. Ness’ departure could leave the agency with a total of three votes (two Republicans and one Democrat), the bare minimum legally required for an official agency vote.

That means any one of the remaining commissioners-including Gloria Tristani, the agency’s sole remaining Democrat-could block votes by simply refusing to participate. GOP FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth has also announced his intent to leave the agency. But unlike Ms. Ness, he vowed to continue serving until his su
ccessor is confirmed. In an interview today, Ms. Ness said she had decided that after seven years as a commissioner, it was time for her to move along.

“They can manage with three commissioners,” she said, adding that she doesn’t believe the agency will have to operate at a voting deficit for long, if at all. “I’m hoping they [the new FCC appointments] will move pretty quickly,” she said. Ms. Ness also said she has yet to begin interviewing for a new job and hopes to take the summer off.

Bernice Coe dies: Bernice Coe, one of the first women to head an independent film distribution company and wife of playwright Barry Stavis, died Tuesday after a 20-year battle with cancer. She was 81. She spent about 50 years in television and film.

She founded Coe Film Associates, specializing in bringing the work of independent producers to a wider television audience. She provided product for the start-up of many cable networks, including Nickelodeon and the Discovery Channel, as well as providing programming for HBO, Showtime and the A&E Network. She was a founding member of Women in Cable and Television and mentored many of today’s women executives. Donations may be made to the Bernice Coe Stavis Scholarship Fund at Vassar College, 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY 12604.

CNN/SI gives two shows green light: CNN/Sports Illustrated introduces two weekly programs this week, “NASCAR Plus,” which debuted Monday at 6:30 p.m., and “Sports Illustrated-Cover to Cover,” which debuts May 3 at 6:30 p.m. “NASCAR Plus” offers 30 minutes of NASCAR news and features, plus in-depth analysis. “Sports Illustrated-Cover to Cover” will take a closer look at the pages of the magazine, giving viewers the story behind a piece in each week’s issue.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications