Fox summer schedule high on original programming
Fox has assembled a summer schedule refreshingly laden with original and “event” programming. Likely due to a carryover of original programming developed in case of writers or actors strikes, which have so far been avoided, a Fox spokesman is estimating that just over 40 percent of the network’s schedule will consist of original programming.
Highlighting the major programming moves are new episodes of alternative/mystery series “Murder in Small Town X” for 8 weeks and previously unseen episodes of drama anthology “Night Visions.” Kicking off with a 90-minute special premiere (8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., ET) on Tuesday, July 17, “Murder in Small Town X” (formerly titled “Endgame”) will then move in its regular 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Tuesday berth on July 24 for the remaining 7 weeks.
“Small Town X” will feature 10 people shipped off to a remote town where they must find the person responsible for a fictitious murder — helped along the way by a real-life Los Angeles police detective. Locals, who will be played by improvisational actors, will lay out additional clues — including an Internet play-along element for viewers at home — to draw out the murderer.
“Night Visions,” a drama anthology that was held over from last fall, will be added to Fox’s Thursday schedule; first with a 2-hour premiere on July 12, then a regular 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Thursday run coming out of new episodes of “Guinness World Records: Primetime” starting on July 19.
Additionally, new episodes of the animated series, “The Family Guy” will premiere in the 9:30 p.m. Wednesday slot coming out a wheel of Fox comedy repeats at 8 p.m., followed by “Grounded for Life” and “Titus” repeats from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. beginning July 11.
Other original programming comes in the form of specials, movies and miniseries: “Teenapalooza: presented by Teen Choice” will air Wednesday, June 20 (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.); “The 2001 Teen Choice Awards” will air Monday, Aug. 20 (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.); a two-part, four-hour original miniseries, “Dean Koontz’s Sole Survivor,” will air Wednesday and Thursday, July 4 and 5, followed by the two-hour telefilm, “Dean Koontz’ Black River” on Friday, July 6; and the broadcast premiere to the telefilm “WWIII,” starring Timothy Hutton and Vanessa Williams, airs Friday, June 11.
One other major series move have repeats of “Dark Angel” (starring Jessica Alba) getting a 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Friday run starting July 20 before settling into a 8 p.m. Friday slot next fall (in September). Fox is also expected to shortly announce summer dates for the original reality series “Love Cruise: The Maiden Voyage,” which was shot in the Caribbean in February and March.
Schroder plans ‘NYPD Blue’ exit: Making himself the fourth cast member to turn in a badge this season on “NYPD Blue,” co-star Rick Schroder announced he is leaving after two-and-a-half seasons with the ABC drama.
Questions in the media have swirled since “Blue’s” May 22 season-ending finale, in which Mr. Schroder did not appear. In separate statements, Mr. Schroder said he wanted spend more time with his wife, Andrea, who is expecting their fourth child this August, while “NYPD Blue” executive producer Steven Bochco said he was “regretfully” releasing the former child star early from his contract.
Mr. Schroder, 31, former star of the sitcom “Silver Spoons,” originally filled the role on “Blue” given up by Jimmy Smits to serve as Dennis Franz’s partner on the homicide beat. “Blue’s” producers and writers are still working out ways to write Mr. Schroder’s chracter ouf of the show. But his absence is expected to somewhat filled by new cast member Mark-Paul Gosselaar, another former child star, who will join the Steven Bochco Productions and 20th Century Fox Television-produced drama next season.
Schroder’s exit comes on the heels of recent final bows by fellow “Blue” cast members Kim Delaney (who is set to star in Bochco’s new “Philly” drama for ABC next fall), James Daniels and Andrea Thompson. The lone original cast member left on “Blue” is Mr. Franz, who has played Detective Andy Sipowicz on the show for eight seasons.
ABC Sports to keep Citrus Bowl through 2006: ABC Sports, home of college football’s Bowl Championship Series, has extended its agreement with the Florida Citrus Bowl to televise the bowl from 2003 to 2006. The Citrus Bowl, which pits the top teams not involved in the BCS title game from the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences, is next to set air from Orlando, Fla., on ABC on Jan. 1, 2002, starting at 1 p.m. (ET).
Traditionally the first game in ABC Sports’ New Year’s Day Bowl Game Triple-Header, the Florida Citrus Bowl has been a featured element of the network’s college football coverage since 1986.
NHL broadcast ratings higher: ABC’s telecast of the game three final of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup championship Thursday night in prime time (8 p.m. to 11:08 p.m. ET) posted a 3.2 rating/6 share nationally in households, according to Nielsen Media Research national data. The game three telecast, featuring the Colorado Avalanche taking a 2-to-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils, scored a 39 percent increase over the comparable year-ago game three final in households (2.3/5). A total of 4.3 million viewers on average each hour caught the game, a 17 percent increase over last year’s 3.7 million total viewers. Among adults 18 to 49 (2.2 rating vs. 1.8 rating), the numbers were up 22 percent year to year. Men 18 to 34 accounted for a demo-high 2.7 rating, up 23 percent from last year.
U.S. Court of Appeals rejects move to allow swapping of channel reservations: The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Friday denied a challenge by the Buffalo watchdog Coalition for Noncommercial Media of a Federal Communications Commission order that permitted sister PBS stations there to swap channel reservations. WNED-TV, originally reserved for commercial use, was de-reserved, and its less powerful sister station, WNEQ-TV, initially reserved for noncommercial use, was designated for commercial use. That paved the way for WNEQ-TV to be sold to LIN Television, a deal pending before the FCC that the watchdog opposes. Separately, the group has asked the FCC to block the sale of WNEQ-TV to LIN or any other commercial entity because it fears the community will lose precious public TV programming. WNED-TV says it needs the proceeds from the station sale to convert to digital. LIN is operating WNEQ-TV as part of a local marketing agreement as it awaits an FCC decision.
VNS retains key members: The Big 4 networks, CNN and the Associated Press have decided to remain members of the beleaguered Voter News Service and try to fix its problems rather than abandon ship. In the months ahead, VNS plans to redesign and modernize its computer system, revamp its statistical models and reassess how it can more accurately project absentee balloting and early voting. VNS came under fire in November for feeding its members flawed data that resulted in botched network projections. Sources said the news outlets agreed that creating a second source of election night information would be too costly. The networks have taken steps to refine their election night reporting in an effort to be more accurate.
(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications