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May 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

WB not renewing ‘Roswell’; drama could head to UPN

The WB Network, as expected, has opted not to renew 20th Century Fox Television’s “Roswell,” leaving the sophomore show open to join studio stable mate “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on UPN’s fall 2001 schedule.

UPN and 20th Century Fox Television executives were unreachable to comment on a new series order, but it is expected by sources that “Roswell” will likely join UPN’s Wednesday or Friday to anchor one of those evenings.

UPN, set to unveil its prime time schedule Thursday in New York, was said by one agency source not to be seeking to pair “Roswell” with “Buffy,” which is expected to hold an 8 p.m. Tuesday slot. That’s similar to what the latter will be vacating on The WB at the end of this season. The UPN snared “Buffy” for $2.3 million per episode over the next two years in a controversial bidding war with The WB last month.

“They [UPN] want to use ‘Roswell’ to springboard another evening and they’re in most serious need of fixing their Wednesday or Friday lineups,” said the Hollywood network packager who requested anonymity. “But there is always the long shot they’d schedule ‘Roswell’ next to ‘Buffy’ to get their Tuesday night up and running quickly.”

One of the more heated scenarios has UPN using “Roswell” as an 8 p.m. (ET) Wednesday lead-in to a “Star Trek” prequel, “Enterprise,” in which the latter will be taking over for the soon-to-be departing “Star Trek: Voyager’s” 9 p.m. time slot. Earlier this week, UPN formalized a series order for “Enterprise” from sister company, Paramount Network Television, also under the Viacom corporate umbrella.

Other than that, agency sources think UPN’s drama or comedy development is very thin at this time. One other leading drama candidate is the Stephen King adaptation of “The Dead Zone” (from Paramount and Lions Gate Television), which could be paired with “Roswell” on Friday nights.

On the comedy side, UPN is said to have canceled “Moesha” (starring Brandy) after a six-year, charter run on the fledgling network. The leading candidate to fill the Monday vacancy of “Moesha” is the Greenblatt Janollari Studios-produced sitcom “One on One,” which is said to be under serious consideration for a lead-out 8:30 Monday slot out of “The Hughleys.”

“One on One,” executive-produced by Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari and Eunetta Boone, is about a divorced TV sportscaster whose 12-year-old daughter moves in with him.

It is not immediately known if “The Parkers” and “Girlfriends” will continue to be part of UPN’s Monday urban comedy lineup next season or if a drama could work its way into the closing 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. hour.

What is known is that UPN is going to keep flagship “WWF Smackdown!” intact at 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays.

CBS taking chances with schedule, Moonves says: When the cone of silence over CBS’s fall lineup was lifted Wednesday, the network unveiled a slate that included five new dramas and two new comedies, with changes on six nights of the week.

“We think we’ve taken a few more chances than our competitors,” said CBS Television President and CEO Les Moonves.

Two “Diagnosis Murder” movies are scheduled for next season, but the series has been killed. That’s one of the moves that led Mr. Moonves to say, “I think our chances of getting younger and more affluent are pretty good.”

The only midseason pickup Mr. Moonves would name is Donald Bellisario’s “First Monday,” the Supreme Court drama from Paramount Network Television that is described as likely to be the first off the bench if another hour stumbles.

CBS’s announced fall schedule:


7 p.m. “60 Minutes” (CBS News)

8 p.m. “The Education of Max Bickford” (20th Century Fox/CBS Productions)

9 p.m. to 11 p.m. CBS Sunday Movie


8 p.m. “The King of Queens” (Columbia TriStar/CBS Productions)

8:30 p.m. “Yes, Dear” (20th Century Fox)

9 p.m. “Everybody Loves Raymond” (HBO Independent Productions/Worldwide Pants)

9:30 p.m. “Becker” (Paramount)

10 p.m. “Family Law” (Columbia TriStar/CBS Productions)


8 p.m. “JAG” (Paramount)

9 p.m. “The Guardian” (Columbia TriStar/CBS Productions)

10 p.m. “Judging Amy” (20th Century Fox/CBS Productions)


8 p.m. “60 Minutes II” (CBS News)

9 p.m. “The Amazing Race” (Bruckheimer Films/Touchstone/CBS Productions)

10 p.m. “Wolf Lake” (Big Ticket Television)


8 p.m. “Survivor” (Survivor Productions/Castaway Productions)

9 p.m. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (Touchstone/CBS)

10 p.m. “The Agency” (Radiant Television/CBS Productions)


8 p.m. “The Ellen Show” (Artists Television Group)

8:30 p.m. “American Wreck,” formerly called “Community Center” (Acme Productions/Big Ticket Television)

9 p.m. “That’s Life” (Paramount)

10 p.m. “48 Hours” (CBS News)


8 p.m. “Touched by an Angel” (CBS Productions)

9 p.m. “Citizen Baines” (Warner Bros.)

10 p.m. “The District” (Studios USA/CBS Productions)

Pax adds ‘Link,’ launches ‘Ponderosa’: NBC’s “Weakest Link” and its freshman drama “Crossing Jordan,” a female “Quincy” set in Boston, will be joining the schedule on Pax TV, the Peacock’s “family friendly” strategic partner. The network also announced a 13-episode commitment to “The Ponderosa,” a prequel to “Bonanza,” the high-rated Western about the Cartwright clan that anchored NBC’s schedule in the 1960s.

The network also announced at its upfront presentation to advertisers Wednesday morning in New York that it is renewing “Doc,” the sophomore medical drama with fish-out-of-water elements starring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus as a Montana physician who takes up residence in New York City. “Doc” is Pax’s highest-rated series and its signature show, said Jeff Sagansky, Pax’s president and CEO.

Coming in January to Pax, which promises its core audience of adults 25 to 54 programs without bad words or sexual content, will be “Left Behind,” a close-encounters-of-the-apocalyptic-kind sci-fi miniseries based on the best-selling series of novels about the End of Days and the Tribulation along with other religious elements derived principally from the Bible’s Book of Revelations and fundamentalist biblical prophecy.

Other programs joining Pax’s schedule are “Forbidden Secrets,” which promises to tell what authorities don’t want people to know, including which seats on an airplane are the safest and how to beat a lie detector, and Ed McMahon’s “Next Big Star,” a one-hour variety series in the “Star Search” mold.

Pax is moving away from its reliance on off-network shows, Mr. Sagansky said, noting that the budget for original programming is up 15 percent this year. By next year, Pax will have nine original series on its prime-time slate, he said. The longer-term goal at Pax, according to both Mr. Sagansky and Lowell “Bud” Paxson, chairman of Paxson Communications, whose station group covers 83 percent of the country, is to have an all-original prime-time schedule in two years.

“Weakest Link” joins Pax on June 1, and “Jordan” crosses over in January 2002. “The Ponderosa” will be airing on Sundays, in the old “Bonanza” time slot, with a second run on Saturdays.

Pax’s announced prime-time schedule:


7 p.m. “Candid Camera”

8 p.m. “Doc”

9 p.m. “The Ponderosa”

10 p.m. “Mysterious Ways”


8 p.m. “Forbidden Secrets”

9 p.m. “Touched by an Angel”/”Left Behind” (starts in January)

10 p.m. “Diagnosis Murder”


8 p.m. “Doc”

9 p.m. “Mysterious Ways”

10 p.m. “Diagnosis Murder”/”Crossing Jordan” (starts in January)


8 p.m. “Candid Camera”

9 p.m. “Touched by an Angel”

10 p.m. “Diagnosis Murder”


8 p.m. “It’s a Miracle”

9 p.m. “Touched by an Angel”

10 p.m. “Diagnosis Murder”


8 p.m. “Weakest Link”

9 p.m. “Pax Big Event”


8 p.m. “The Ponderosa”

9 p.m. “Touched by an Angel”

10 p.m. “Encounters With the Unexplained”

NBC taking care of Pax: How closely bound together are Pax TV and NBC, which holds a substantial minority stake in Paxson Communications Corp.? NBC senior executives did show the flag of support for their partner Pax at a post-upfront press con
ference attended by senior NBC executives, including NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa and NBC Television Network President Randy Falco.

“They’re taking good care of us,” said Paxson President and CEO Jeff Sagansky in reference to “Weakest Link” and “Crossing Jordan,” two NBC programs that are moving to Pax for second runs. Pax’s “Mysterious Ways” will get a 13-episode run on NBC this summer, and Pax will be the beneficiary of “tens of millions of dollars” worth of on-air promotion on the Peacock Network, Mr. Sassa said.

The two networks “share” a development process that includes regular meetings, Mr. Sassa added. Pax will be part of some overall NBC advertising deals as well, said Keith Turner, NBC’s senior sales executive. In turn, Mr. Sagansky credited the “fast start” of “Mysterious Ways” on Pax to its original NBC run a year ago.

But clearly there’s a limit to the alliance between NBC, which airs a high-rated lineup of often sexually themed sitcoms, and Pax, which airs “family friendly” programming that doesn’t contain foul language or sexual content but does often include religious-themed programs.

“Our audience … expects inspirational, feel-good kinds of programming,” Mr. Sagansky said. “Not everything that NBC puts on their schedule fits into that category.” In any given year, he added, “only a couple of shows” coming out of the development process will “fit both brands.”

How far exactly the alliance can go was made clear by Mr. Falco who called it “important” to say that “there’s no thinking in the future of making Pax into NBC 2, that the strength of Pax really comes from its own original programming, [from] reaching its own audience with its own special demographic … On an opportunistic basis, we’ll move forward and you’ll see some sharing of programming, but in no way will it become NBC 2.”

Univision ups original programming: Univision, the largest Spanish-language network in the United States, is announcing a schedule Wednesday in New York that brings its original programming content above the 50 percent mark for the first time in its history.

New programs include “Los Metiches,” an original comedy hour with celebrity guest hosts; “Noche De Gigantes,” a new half-hour variety show hosted by Don Francisco; “Pica y Se Extiende,” a weekly gossip/variety fest focused on the entertainment industry; and “Marta Susana,” a daily morning talk show produced in the United States.

New telenovelas debuting in the summer and fall include “Amigas y Rivales” (“Friends and Rivals”), aimed at Hispanic teens; “La Intrusa” (“The Intruder”), a drama centered around a governess and the children in her charge; and “El Derecho de Nacer” (“Birthright”), a novela set in Cuba in the 1940s.

Among returning series is “Cristina,” the network’s long-running talk show.

No ABC-CNN linkage talks under way: Yes, ABC News might be interested in talking to CNN about ways in which they might share news-gathering operations. No, there are no such talks under way.

That’s the position of both parties in the wake of two reports this week that ABC has been exploring such an alliance with CNN.

Both CNN and ABC News maintain that since the mid-’90s — when there had been exploratory talks about such a partnership — there has been only one conversation on the subject and that that was in the wake of reports that CBS News and CNN had revisited the question of whether those two news organizations might be able to save money and share talent.

At that point, sources say, ABC News President David Westin called Turner Broadcasting chief Jamie Kellner — who oversees CNN — to say that if the all-news network was going to talk to CBS News about a possible partnership, CNN also should talk with ABC News.

ABC News and CBS News are the only network news operations that have no cable network on which to break news without getting permission to break into entertainment programming or to showcase their roster of anchors and correspondents.

While “World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings said on Tuesday’s “Larry King Live” that “it makes absolute sense” to hold such talks, he also said, “I haven’t the vaguest idea whether it is possible.”

ABC insists that the reports took ABC Television Network President Alex Wallau out of the subjunctive, hypothetical context in which he was responding to a question about contact between ABC and CNN on the question of sharing resources — though Mr. Wallau seemed to take the idea of sharing ABC’s on-air talent off any hypothetical table.

Russell exits CNN Headline News: After a decade as prime-time CNN Headline News anchor, Lynne Russell is leaving the network. A spokesperson said Ms. Russell’s decision is related to changes in her personal life and not related to the hiring of former “NYPD Blue” actress Andrea Thompson as a Headline News anchor.

She joined the network in 1983. The Atlanta-based newswoman is expected to continue moonlighting as a Fulton County deputy sheriff.

CEA files comments on electronic program guides: Time Warner isn’t the only one filing comments with the Federal Communications Commission over electronic program guides. The Consumer Electronics Association revealed Wednesday that it filed comments last Friday regarding its concern about stifling competition.

“Unless the program and system information that makes possible the creation of EPGs is made available to manufacturers and other parties, such as providers of competing EPG services, competition in both equipment and services will be stifled,” the filing concluded.

The FCC is reviewing the distribution of ITV services over cable and its 1998 rules on navigation devices in separate proceedings.

BBC offers interactive coverage of Wimbledon: The BBC will serve up multiscreen, interactive TV coverage of the Wimbledon Championships from June 25 to July 8 for the first time on BSkyB digital satellite platform using technology provided by OpenTV. Viewers will be able to see the action from a selection of five tennis courts simultaneously.

NAB: 195 stations transmit digitally: The National Association of Broadcasters reports that 195 stations in 65 markets are able to transmit a digital television signal, including about 30 noncommercial stations. Close to 1,300 commercial stations are required to transmit DTV by May 1, 2002.

Earlier this week the NAB responded to requests from the FCC on the commission’s decision to move forward in reallocating channels 52-59 (as well as channels 60-69) to new commercial services. The NAB indicated that the action was premature given expectations that Congress would postpone both auctions once again in line with President Bush’s budget proposals.

WRAL-TV relaunches Web site: WRAL-TV, Raleigh, N.C., relaunched its WRAL.com Web site — which it says pulls in more than 2 million page views a week — to give visitors greater access to both local and national news. National stories will be provided by editors working at more than 50 Internet Broadcasting Systems sites across the country, while more in-depth reports will be provided by WRAL staffers.

Other new features include an option for personalization and e-mail services that let users sign up for hourly updated headlines.

RealNetworks, PlayStation join forces: RealNetworks Wednesday announced a strategic alliance to embed its RealPlayer 8 and other RealNetworks client technologies on Sony’s PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system and in the PlayStation 2 Software Development Kit.

RealNetworks also reported a deal with Nokia to integrate RealPlayer into Nokia’s new Media Terminal, an innovative infotainment home device that combines digital video broadcast, gaming, streaming, downloadable digital media, full Internet access and personal video recorder technology.

Chinese network going interactive: Mainland China’s largest cable TV network has contracted an interactive platform and interactive multimedia services from OpenTV. Shanghai Cable Network Co. plans to roll out interactive TV services this year, initially to about 1 million broadband cable households in Shanghai. The cable network, established in 1998, has more than
3.2 million subscribers.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications