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Jun 6, 2001  •  Post A Comment

NBC’s ‘Kristin’ comes up lame in ratings race

Like other series burned off during late spring or summer, the little-heralded debut of NBC sitcom “Kristin” did little to boost the Peacock Network’s season-long ailing ratings in the 8:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday time period.

Starring Kristin Chenoweth, “Kristin” — a holdover midseason replacement that completed shooting last December — turned in a second-ranked 3.1 rating/10 share in the adults 18 to 49 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. The demo score came in 26 percent behind ABC’s telecast of an original “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (4.2/13).

For the entire 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame, where it also had easy sailing against a repeat of NBC’s “Frasier” (3.0/10), “Millionaire’s” 3.8/12 in adults 18 to 49 held even with its previous week’s score. It was a mixed bag for “Kristin,” however. The show did improve 48 percent from NBC’s airing of an original “DAG” episode last week (2.1/6), but it slid 45 percent from the second half of “3rd Rock From the Sun’s” series finale (5.7/16) two weeks ago in the time period.

“Kristin’s” highest demo score came in women 25 to 54, where it posted a 4.5/12. In households, “Kristin” tallied a 5.2/9 and 7.3 million viewers, off about 50 percent from “Millionaire’s” household (10.9/19) and total viewer (15.9 million) tallies for the half-hour span.

On a night otherwise riddled with repeat programming, NBC eked out a tie with ABC in adults 18 to 49 (both at 3.3/10 averages), but ABC won the household tally (6.9/12) over CBS (6.6/11) and NBC (5.5/10) for the evening.

NBC plans sneak preview for ‘Spy TV’ series: NBC is taking “sneak peek” literally with its new hidden camera reality series “Spy TV,” which will be getting a special preview three weeks earlier than originally planned.

Originally set to bow July 10, “Spy TV” will get a special preview at 8:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday, June 21, coming out of a repeat episode of “Friends.” The reality show, which is co-produced by Endemol Entertainment USA and Next Entertainment, will shift to an 8 p.m. Tuesday run on June 26, serving as lead-in to the summer replacement comedy “Go Fish” (from Touchstone Television). NBC plans to air “Spy TV” in half-hour and hour-long versions throughout July.

Executive producers of “Spy TV” are Jon DeMol and Michael Fleiss; the host is Michael Ian Black (of NBC’s “Ed”). Endemol, a Dutch-based production company responsible for CBS’s “Big Brother,” also premieres “Fear Factor” on NBC next Monday in the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot.

WGA ratifies minimum basic agreement: Members of the West and East Coast chapters of the Writers Guild of America overwhelmingly ratified the 2001 minimum basic agreement originally struck last month with the studio- and network-led (ABC, CBS and NBC) Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Out of a total of 4,128 votes cast, 3,785, or 92 percent, ratified the pact while 343 votes, or 8 percent, were against it. The guilds represent more than 11,000 writers, whose work can be seen on broadcast and cable television, the Internet and other media.

“Obviously, we’re delighted with the record turnout and overwhelming support for the contract,” said WGA West President John Wells, who also serves as executive producer of NBC’s hit dramas “ER” and “The West Wing.”

“I want to thank everyone who participated in these negotiations, from both the guilds and the companies, who worked to address so many issues of importance to writers. Hopefully, we’ve set a template for future negotiations,” Mr. Wells said in a prepared statement.

The next round of labor talks between the Screen Actors Guild and AMPTP is scheduled for Thursday, June 7, in an effort to avert a strike when the actors’ pact expires June 30.

SAG President William Daniels (a star of former NBC “St. Elsewhere” drama), who is working in tandem with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has recently stated that he is emphasizing minimum scale hikes for the unions’ middle-income membership — actors who largely have supporting roles in TV series and movies.

However, given the WGA’s relatively modest increases extracted from the Alliance and a 6-month-long commercials strike lastyear straining SAG’s rank-and-file membership’s pocketbooks, some Hollywood watchers say the acting unions may be willing to close a quick deal to avert a strike during a downturn in the U.S. economy.

But the WGA, which netted a somewhat more conservative than expected $40 million in concessions, including a 3.5 percent increase in minimum scales — a far cry from the $120 million it sought in minimum and residual increases — from the Alliance in its new three-year contract, believes that any increase in minimum scales and residuals is good for the union.

“It’s good to know that collective bargaining is alive and well,” said Herb Sargent, president of the WGA East.

“We particularly want to thank the SAG and AFTRA observers who worked with us throughout the negotiations,” said John McLean, WGAW’s executive director and chief negotiator, “and look forward to a successful conclusion to their negotiations. We also appreciate the hard work of the AMPTP representatives and the involvement of their CEOs.”

“One of the most important gains from this bargaining was the realization that it is possible to have a real negotiation, with a real expiration date, with real bargaining, and not have a strike,” said Mona Mangan, executive director of WGAE. “The proof is an exceptionally good contract.”

UPN expanding its reach: UPN is reported to be on target to have a primary affiliate in each of the top 50 markets by early 2003, when WHSL-TV’s Home Shopping Network affiliate deal expires and the Roberts Broadcasting-controlled station in St. Louis, Mo., makes the switch to UPN. Univision has a 45 percent stake in WHSL-TV, which it acquired in its purchase of USA Broadcasting.

CBS still home to Sun Bowl: The Sun Bowl will stay on CBS until 2006 under a new multiyear extension of the relationship between the country’s second-oldest postseason bowl game and CBS Sports, which has broadcast the event for 33 years.

‘Ally McBeal’ plans cast changes: “Ally McBeal’s” Cage & Fish law firm is going to bring in new partners and say good-bye to some old ones.

Going into its fifth season as Fox’s 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) Monday hit “Ally McBeal” is bidding reluctant adieus to cast members James LeGros and Lisa Nicole Carson. However, actors Josh Hopkins (“The Perfect Storm”), Regina Hall (“Scary Movie”), James Marsden (“X-Men”) and Julianne Nicholson (“The Love Letter”) are all said be in final negotiations to join the series. Ms. Carson may have a recurring role in the show, said an “Ally McBeal” show publicist.

Ms. Hall, whose credits also include “Love & Basketball,” will reprise her role from last season, when she appeared in several episodes as Robert Downey Jr.’s associate.

Mr. Downey was relieved of his role on the show when was arrested (for the fourth time) in Culver City, Calif., in April on charges of cocaine possession. He has since avoided a jail sentence-stemming from a violation of a probation imposed after a similar arrest in Palm Springs, Calif., last Thanksgiving-by agreeing to enter a lock-down drug rehabilitation program in Los Angeles.

Speculation has circulated that Mr. Marsden, who was the metallic superhero of “X-Men,” will be a new romantic interest for Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart.

Peter MacNicol and Lucy Liu, are both committed to returning to the show, but perhaps in a reduced number of appearances.

Media industry expected to grow at healthy clip: After a season of gloomy economic news and even gloomier prognostications comes “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2001-2005,” a distinctly bullish media industry forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers that predicts the global media and entertainment industry, buoyed by consolidation and technological advances, will grow at a 7.2 percent compound annual growth rate for the remainder of the first half of the decade, becoming a $1.2 trillion business by 2005.

Key to the coming bo
nanza, in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ view, is the Internet, which itself will be transformed by broadband and the digital conversion. “We believe in the Internet’s transformational impact on this industry,” said Kevin Carton, leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Entertainment & Media Practice, in a statement, “particularly as a distribution medium given increasing broadband and wireless access. Online distribution of content will continue to be a principal driver of growth, creating opportunities throughout all segments of the entertainment and media industry, which in itself is a key component of the world economy.”

Other highlights of the report follow:

— The U.S. broadcast and cable market will grow at a 9.4 percent compounded annual growth rate, reaching $168 billion in 2005.

— “Sluggish” growth in the U.S. TV advertising marketplace will be offset by rising DBS and digital cable subscriptions. Digital cable and DBS are expected to reach 42 million and 26 million subscribers respectively by 2005.

— When it comes to worldwide aggregate TV distribution, whether over the air or via cable or satellite, spending will reach $221 billion by 2005. The United States will be the slowest-growing regional market, with a 6.9 percent compound annual growth rate, while Latin America and the Asia-Pacific regions, bolstered by increased multichannel penetration, will be the fastest.

— The overall U.S. entertainment and media marketplace will expand at a 7.1 percent compound annual growth rate through 2005. Latin America will have the fastest-growing entertainment and media market of any single region, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent over five years.

— Worldwide filmed entertainment, including theatrical, home video and burgeoning DVD rental and sell-through, will have a 6.6 percent compound annual growth rate in the forecast period, up to $93 billion by 2005 from its $68 billion level in 2000. The U.S. market alone will account for $55 billion of that 2005 total.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications