Hollywood Notes

May 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Networks’ summer heating up
Having learned lessons about the successful launches of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and CBS’s original “Survivor” the previous two summers, the captains of network programming are again looking at some moderate doses of original programming for this summer.
In particular, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker claimed one-third of the Peacock Network’s prime-time schedule will be original programming. Topping the list is the much talked about reality series “Fear Factor,” which will premiere Monday, June 11 at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) for an eight-week run in place of newsmagazine “Dateline NBC.”
Scheduling of new summer series is not as firm at the other networks, but CBS Television Network President Leslie Moonves said that it can be expected that “Big Brother 2” will return with new housemates and a revamped format in early July.
The WB’s co-president of entertainment, Jordan Levin, said midseason backup drama “Dead Last” will probably premiere in August on his network. In the meantime, The WB has changed plans for airing its “Flix From the Frog” movie night from Wednesday to Tuesday in the 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. time slots held by the soon-to-be departing “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (which is moving to UPN next fall) and the returning “Angel.” ABC Television Entertainment Group Co-Chairman Lloyd Braun was a little more tight lipped on summer premieres. However, he loosely hinted that midseason drama “The Beast,” a behind-the-scenes look at a 24-hour news network starring Frank Langella, could be set for a Wednesday, June 13, debut while sketch comedy “The Wayne Brady Show” is rumored to be set for a Wednesday, Aug. 1 premiere.
Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said reality series “Love Cruise” and “In Search of …” will likely get summer runs, but no firm dates had yet been set.
`Weakest Link’ gets closer to syndication
A syndicated run for NBC’s “Weakest Link” got a step closer to reality with Tribune Entertainment picking up barter sales rights to the property. The pickup was the latest for Tribune, which has undergone ad sales growth thanks to barter arrangements with Universal, Hearst and NBC.
`Buffy’ cliffhanger has fans fixated
With the heroine of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), dying in the final original episode to air on The WB last Tuesday, rumors swirled about how and whether the slayer will rise from the dead when the show moves to UPN next September.
At least one WB executive, Jordan Levin, co-president of entertainment, could not resist one last playful jab over “Buffy’s” season-ending cliffhanger and its disposition for next season. “We sure like the idea of everyone believing that she is dead and gone,” Mr. Levin said with a hearty laugh.
`Voyager’ finale beams viewers to UPN
UPN came in second for the evening among households in the overnight metered markets May 23, with the two-hour series-ender of “Star Trek: Voyager” leading the network to the second-highest-rated night in its 61/2-year history. The 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) series finale of “Voyager” went into ultra-warp drive in the ratings to close the last night of the May sweeps period (April 26 to May 23) with an 8.3 rating/13 share household average in Nielsen Media Research’s metered markets. Leading the evening were NBC’s season-ending “Ed” and two “Law & Order” episodes, which posted 11.9/18 in overnight households.
“Voyager’s” series premiere on Jan. 16, 1995-the night of UPN’s debut-remains the network’s highest-rated show of all time with a 14.7/20 household metered average.
Keating promoted at Twentieth
Shannon Keating has been upped to vice president of domestic distribution at Twentieth Television. Ms. Keating, who has been at Twentieth since 1998, will be bumped up from her most recent position as executive director, domestic distribution.