Hollywood Notes

Apr 2, 2001  •  Post A Comment

`Big Brother’ is back, with changes

Beginning last week, CBS started taking applications for the second installment of the reality series “Big Brother,” which premiered last summer to moderate success in the young adult demographics. Coinciding with posting applications on the Internet at CBS.com, the network confirmed that Emmy Award-winning reality producer Arnold Shapiro has come aboard as executive producer of the Dutch-based format from Endemol Entertainment.

One key change in “Big Brother II’s” format will be elimination of voting by telephone. The show will instead have the 12 contestants vote each other off each week. Last summer, the original “Big Brother” came under media criticism for lacking drama and tension among the housemates-in large part because telephone voters banished some of the more controversial roommates early in the show’s run.

Otherwise, much of the show’s format will stay intact, with a group of strangers being confined to the specially constructed house in Studio City, Calif., outfitted with numerous cameras and microphones recording their every move 24 hours a day for broadcast on the show and video streaming on the Internet. During the 100-day stay in the house from June to October the contestants will vote each other out, with the grand prize winner taking home $500,000. Applicants completing forms on the CBS.com Web site will have to send two-minute VHS tapes and pictures to CBS by April 20.

Thumbs down for Oscar telecast ratings

ABC’s broadcast of the 73rd Annual Academy Awards on March 25 sank to an all-time-low 26.2 rating/40 share household average, according to Nielsen Media Research final national returns. Most notably, the event’s rating came in 4 percent lower than the all-time low in households established by the 1986 Oscar broadcast (27.3/43), which had 37.7 million total viewers.

The Oscar telecast was 10 percent lower than last year’s awards (29.2/48) and posted the lowest overall mark since Nielsen began measuring overall TV universe ratings in 1961. The 9 p.m.-to-midnight (ET) telecast averaged 42.9 million total viewers, a 7 percent increase over ABC’s 1997 telecast (40.0 million). But it was off 7 percent from last year’s 46.3 million total viewers. ABC research estimated that 72.2 million people watched part or all of the 2001 Oscar telecast. Still, ABC’s household average was good enough to give the network wins in both households and adults 18 to 49 for the week of March 19, according to Nielsen.

Granada promotes Hamm, Johnson

Granada Entertainment USA, the Los Angeles-based network TV series production arm of British broadcaster Granada Television Ltd., has promoted Bill Hamm to executive vice president of series programming and Ann Johnson to senior vice president of series programming. Before joining Granada in October 1999, Mr. Hamm was senior vice president of drama for Studios USA and its predecessor, Universal Television. Ms. Johnson joined Granada from Michael Jacobs Productions in August 1999.

Booted `Temptation’ pair sues Fox

“Temptation Island’s” Ytossie Patterson and Taheed Watson, the couple ejected from the island when it was learned they had a child together, filed suit last week against Fox and series producer Rocket Science Laboratories. They are charging that producers of the show were informed in advance of their having a child and claim they are suffering from defamation of character.

In the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the couple contends producers of the show had instructed them not to say anything about the child before the show began taping last fall. In their final episode together, where the couple talked with producers, the suit alleges it was edited in a way that made it seem Ms. Patterson and Mr. Watson previously concealed the existence of their child. A Fox spokeswoman said the network had yet to receive a copy of the suit and had no comment on the pending litigation.