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Jun 14, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Shaq, NBA best ‘Beast’

ABC’s summer replacement drama “The Beast” ran up against the immovable object known as Shaq Wednesday night during Game 4 of the NBA Finals on NBC. Premiering in ABC’s 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) Wednesday time slot, “The Beast,” a behind-the-scenes drama set at a 24-hour news network, came in third during the frame with a 2.7 rating/8 share average in adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

Faced with the daunting task of opening opposite the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers broadcast, “The Beast’s” adults 18 to 49 score was off 64 percent from NBC’s hoops contest (7.7/22) during the hour and 27 percent behind ABC News’ previous week’s airing of “Vanished” (3.7/10). From the first half-hour’s 2.7/8 score, which was off 18 percent from a repeat of “Spin City” (3.3/9) as its lead-in, “The Beast’s” second half-hour frame (2.7/8) dipped 4 percent from its opening frame.

Overall, “The Beast,” which stars Frank Langella, Jason Gedrick and Peter Riegert, posted a 4.4/8 in households and tallied 6.3 million viewers. Each of those ratings categories was behind NBC’s NBA game (10.9/19, 17.1 million viewers) and CBS’s last hour of the movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (7.4/13, 9.4 million).

Twentieth scores clearances for ‘Texas Justice’: What was once a slow rollout has been put on the fast track, and “Texas Justice” will debut nationally on Jan. 2.

Distributor Twentieth Television plans to keep its winning streak alive after syndicating the top first-run strips the past two seasons in “Divorce Court” and “Power of Attorney.” “Texas Justice” has cleared all the Fox owned-and-operated stations, including WNYW-TV in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles, as well as the nine stations involved in the regional test earlier this year: Dallas’ KDFW-TV, Atlanta’s WAGA-TV, Tampa, Fla.’s WTVT-TV, Houston’s KRIV-TV, Birmingham, Ala.’s WBRC-TV, Memphis, Tenn.’s WHBQ-TV, Phoenix’s KSAZ-TV, Austin, Texas’ KTBC-TV and Greensboro, N.C.’s WGHP-TV. Stations from the Cox, Acme, Belo, Raycom and Capitol groups also have signed on to the show.

In addition, stations that sign for the 87-week term running from January 2002 to September 2003 are being offered a free four-month run of the show before the official January launch. From September through December 2001, station clients can air the 70 shows produced for the regional test without paying cash license fees or giving up any barter ad time.

Only 45 of the shows in the can have aired on the nine Fox stations that were part of the test run. The remaining 35 will provide fresh episodes for that handful of stations to use during the important November ratings sweep.

Come January, cash license fees will kick in, and Twentieth will reserve 1.5 minutes of national barter ad time, while stations get 5.5 minutes for local ads.

McGowan joins ‘Charmed’ cast: Rose McGowan, who gained stardom as a sexy victim in the horror film spoof “Scream,” has been cast as a regular on The WB’s “Charmed” in the wake of Shannen Doherty’s release from the show last month. Ms. McGowan will be introduced as a long-lost mystical sister to Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) and Piper (Holly Marie Combs) as “Charmed” starts its fourth season in The WB’s 9 p.m. (ET) Thursday time slot next fall.

On Wednesday Ms. Doherty agreed to speak to teens about the dangers of alcohol abuse after she pleaded no contest to drunk driving charges. Her release from Aaron Spelling Television’s “Charmed,” for which she directed the series finale last month, was said to be unrelated to the drunk driving arrest, although there were rumors of friction between her and castmates Ms. Milano and Ms. Combs.

Ms. McGowan, a former girlfriend of cross-dressing rocker Marilyn Manson, left an indelible impression on audiences as a sexy scream queen flattened by a garage door in Wes Craven’s “Scream.” She began her career starring in the edgy independent feature film “The Doom Generation” by controversial director Gregg Araki, for which she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also starred on the big screen in the dark high school comedy “Jawbreaker,” “Monkeybone” and “Ready to Rumble.”

Raycom’s Hayes retiring: Raycom Media President and CEO John Hayes is retiring at the end of the month after four years at the helm of the Montgomery, Ala.-based company, which owns 36 TV stations and Raycom Sports. He will be succeeded by Paul McTear, who has been vice president and chief financial officer of Raycom Media since 1997, when he stepped down after 19 years as finance executive for the Providence Journal Co.’s broadcast and cable group.

Raycom board Chairman John Stein said in the announcement that Mr. McTear is “uniquely qualified and certainly a logical choice to move into this new leadership role.” He also said that Mr. Hayes will be available to the board “to assist in strategic development.”

HDTV goes local in New York: WB affiliate WPIX-TV, New York, will air Friday’s interleague baseball game between the Yankees and Mets in high-definition television on its digital channel, WPIX-DT Channel 33. It is the first time ever that a New York station has produced and shown an HDTV program locally.

Univision acquiring Puerto Rico stations: Univision Communications will acquire Raycom Media’s Puerto Rico-based full-power stations WLII-TV, San Juan, and WSUR-TV, Ponce, which have a combined viewership of 1.3 million Puerto Rican homes. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2002.

Berryhill not headed for WHDH: Mark Berryhill was hired as news director at NBC affiliate KRON-TV, San Francisco, seven months ago, but recently he said he was moving back to New England for personal reasons. The announcement prompted speculation that he was returning to his old station, NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston, which happens to be looking for a replacement for Nancy Nydam, who left WHDH June 8. But WHDH General Manager Mike Carson told ELECTRONIC MEDIA Thursday that Mr. Berryhill is not headed back to WHDH. Mr. Carson said he is interviewing many candidates in a national search for a news director, and so far, “There’s a lot of interest” in the job.

New show for PBS, NPR: PBS and NPR are developing “Public Square,” an ambitious 90-minute weekly show that will cover the week’s major developments and a variety of subjects from history to pop culture. One segment will be “The American Scene,” with formats ranging from debates and documentaries to monologues and fiction.

“Public Square” is tentatively scheduled for launch in spring 2002. “‘Public Square’ will have a breadth of inquiry found in a great Sunday newspaper; it will explore all dimensions of contemporary life,” said PBS President Pat Mitchell in announcing the show at the PBS annual meeting in Philadelphia.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications