Breaking News Archives

Jun 25, 2001  •  Post A Comment

NBC to run ‘Spy TV’ twice a week

On the heels of its robust June 21 debut, NBC has decided it will now offer a second weekly run of reality series “Spy TV” at 8 p.m. (ET) Tuesday (beginning June 26) in addition to its regularly scheduled 8:30 p.m. Thursday broadcast throughout the summer. This week, NBC will feature original episodes of the series on both nights until July 3, when the Tuesday airings will switch to repeat episodes.

“Spy TV” will be taking over the 8 p.m. Tuesday night slot from the ratings-challenged summer sitcom, “Go Fish,” which will move to an 8:30 p.m. berth this Tuesday.

Last Thursday’s premiere of “Spy TV” posted a 6.6 rating/21 share among adults 18 to 49, the highest rating for any program on any network since the end of the May sweeps four weeks ago. The show also outperformed NBC’s 8 p.m. Thursday repeat of “Friends” (5.5/19) by a healthy 20 percent margin, according to Nielsen Media Research national data.

NBC has a 15-episode commitment with Dutch series producer Endemol Entertainment for “Spy TV,” described by critics as a vengeful version of “Candid Camera.”

“We’re thrilled with the audience’s reaction to the show,” said NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker in a statement. “We’ve heard the viewers loud and clear, and [we] want to give them as much original comedy during the summer as we can. This is a funny show, and the viewers got that. Now they’ll get even more.”

Hosted by Michael Ian Black of NBC’s “Ed,” “Spy TV” takes hidden-camera comedy to the next level by putting everyday people in extreme situations and recording their uncensored and unpredictable reactions. John de Mol (creator of CBS’s “Big Brother”) is executive producer of “Spy TV,” while Jeff Boggs serves as co-executive producer of the series from Endemol Entertainment USA.

Winter Olympics to air in prime time on West coast: NBC stations in the Pacific time zone have won a major concession from the network: NBC will be carrying Winter Olympics coverage from Salt Lake City in February on tape-delay. Prime-time coverage on the West Coast will start at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and conclude at 11 p.m., just in time for late local newscasts.

The coverage will air live in all other time zones, starting at 8 p.m. (ET) and concluding at 11:30 p.m.

After being roundly criticized for the all-taped packaging of the Summer Olympics from Sydney, Australia last September, NBC Sports and Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol had wanted the Winter Olympics to be carried live throughout the U.S., which would have meant West Coast stations would be carrying the choicest events in late afternoons, would see their local news and syndicated programming displaced and would have a patchwork prime-time schedule for more than half of the February sweeps period.

Numerous affiliates and some executives within NBC, whose owned stations in Los Angeles and San Diego would have been faced with the same challenges, had lobbied for Mr. Ebersol to reconsider.

After a survey of stations in the Pacific time zone showed that more than 80 percent favored tape-delay, the affiliates and NBC whipped up a survey of 1,000 adults. The result again was a vote for evening, rather than late-afternoon broadcasts.

“What we heard was clearly that the viewers in that time zone were not going to be available at 5 o’clock,” said Jack Sander, Belo’s executive vice president of media operations and chairman of the NBC affiliate advisory board that has been wrestling with this question since late last year. Belo owns NBC affiliates in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. In Seattle alone, where long commutes are a fact of life, Mr. Sander said the fear had been that live Olympics would cost the station and the network at least a ratings point on key coverage.

Speaking of the viewers, the affiliates and the network, Mr. Sander said, “We think it’s a win, win, win for everyone. I will tell you that NBC came to the same conclusion after seeing the research.”

Mr. Sander was unable to say how much the second feed will cost the network, but he praised Mr. Ebersol and NBC Television Network President Randy Falco for having been “champs about this all the way.”

For his part, Mr. Ebersol released a statement that indicated he had not been converted to the wisdom of showing the games in prime time on the West Coast, but that he had been overruled.

“A domestic Olympics cries out to be telecast live across the entire country, as previous U.S. games have been,” said the statement. “I am emphatic that delaying our prime-time Salt Lake coverage is a mistake, which is exactly what I told the affiliate board when they first brought the issue to our attention earlier this year. We have each debated this issue passionately for months. I understand their position, but I simply don’t agree with it.”

Fehr to join “Undercover” cast: NBC has added Oded Fehr, who played a mystical, bearded Arab warrior in both “The Mummy” movies, to the cast of the network’s fall 2001 action-thriller “UC: Undercover,” scheduled to air 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) Sunday evenings.

Grant Show (“Melrose Place”) played the leader of an elite crime-fighting unit in the pilot for “Undercover,” but producers plan to killed off his character early in the show’s run next season. Sources within the show contend that Mr. Show had only accepted a “guest role” in the pilot, allowing Mr. Fehr to be introduced as the new unit leader.

Mr. Fehr recently co-starred as Ardeth Bay in “The Mummy” and its sequel, “The Mummy Returns.” He is an Israeli Navy veteran who also starred in the TV miniseries “Arabian Nights,” “Cleopatra” and “Killer Net.” Mr. Fehr’s other film credits include “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” and the upcoming feature “Texas Rangers.”

“UC: Undercover” is about a special Justice Department anti-crime unit that confronts the country’s deadliest, most untouchable lawbreakers by going undercover to bust them.

“UC: Undercover” is a production of NBC Studios in association with Jersey Films, Chasing Time Pictures, Regency Television and Twentieth Century Fox Television. Shane Salerno, executive producer, (“Shaft,” “Armageddon”) created the series with Don Winslow (“Fortunate Son”). Winslow is also an executive producer along with Jersey partners Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher and John Landgraf.

KCOP-TV wins Los Angeles news Emmy: UPN affiliate KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, won its first Los Angeles news Emmy for best daily newscast in the over-35-minutes-long category. The best half-hour newscast was tied between KNBC-TV and Telemundo-owned KVEA-TV.

The KCOP Emmy is significant because that station will soon be a sister station to Fox-owned KTTV, Los Angeles, when the News Corp. acquisition of the Chris Craft Industries stations goes through. The speculation is that Fox will then fold the news operations at its New York and Los Angeles Chris Craft stations into the Fox-owned stations. “We continue to fight the good fight, and we’re thrilled,” said KCOP News Director Larry Perret “We continue to go ahead, and I think it’s remarkable the achievements that we’ve seen, considering that the merger should be closing soon.”

Fox-owned KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.” won as best daytime newscast.

Varney to host discussion for CNBC broadcast: Stuart Varney, who left CNN when Lou Dobbs was rehired to host “Moneyline,” will host a discussion at 9 p.m. (ET) Thursday on CNBC with the Wall Street Journal editorial board of how the political power shift in Washington will affect President Bush’s legislative agenda. CNBC producer Alex Crippen is producing the hour-long “Editorial Board: The Wall Street Journal, Bush’s New Ballgame,” which CNBC hopes will be as well-received as Mr. Varney’s first such appearance in April with the newspaper’s editorialists on “Bush @ 100 Days.”

Syndie ‘Weakest Link’ to air on Chicago’s WMAQ: The upcoming syndicated version of “The Weakest Link” has found another home in its quest for national coverage. WMAQ-TV, the NBC owned-and-operated station in Chicago, has secured the strip, planned for a January 2002 launch. “We are excited about adding this popular show to our lineup,” said Larry Wert, preside
nt and general manager, WMAQ-TV. “It has a solid ratings performance and has quickly proven to attract key demographics .”

Meanwhile, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution has pinned down its first major clearance on “$100,000 Pyramid,” signing San Francisco’s Young Broadcasting-owned KRON-TV for a deal sources say will place the show in early fringe as a double-run strip.

7 CBS O&Os to strip ‘Millionaire’: Monday’s edition of Electronic Media reports that seven of CBS’s large owned-and-operated stations bought Buena Vista Television and ABC’s syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” making it CBS’s second aggressive syndicated programming acquisition in the same week.

Representing six of the largest markets in the country, the CBS O&Os coming aboard the “Millionaire” bandwagon for its September 2002 launch are WCBS-TV, New York, KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, WBBM-TV, Chicago, KYW-TV, Philadelphia, KPIX-TV, San Francisco and WBZ-TV, Boston. KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, the 19th-ranked designated market area, is the other CBS O&O set to strip the half-hour weekday version of “Millionaire.”

Earlier last week, three CBS O&Os — in New York, San Francisco and Baltimore (WJZ-TV) — acquired NBC Enterprises’ “Weakest Link” for its January 2002 launch. The move triggered speculation that CBS would look to eventually pair “Link” with “Millionaire” in a game show block designed to shore up ratings deficits some stations are suffering leading into their early-evening newscasts, particularly in New York.

As previously reported in Electronic Media (June 18), station rep and station sources said that Buena Vista had been “aggressively” floating weekly license fees in the low-six-figure per-week range. There was no immediate word on whether the CBS stations agreed to a single-year “Millionaire” deal, which is said by sources to have performance-based out-clauses attached.

“We only buy programming that we believe will reach profitability,” said a CBS Television Stations spokesman, speaking on behalf of group president Fredric Reynolds.

Study suggests ads more effective when shown on family programs: Pax TV is touting an Iowa State University study that claims viewer recall is better for its brand of family programming than it is for fare that includes sex and violence.

A recent study conducted by Iowa State professor of psychology Dr. Brad Bushman concluded that memory for TV commercials is lower in programs that contain violent and sexual content. The study involved 324 men and women ages 18 to 54 who were randomly assigned to watch either violent, sexually explicit or neutral (family-friendly) programming.

Immediately after the programs were viewed — and as long as 24 hours later — participants were asked to recall the brands advertised. Results showed better memory scores for people who saw the ads in a neutral program than for people who saw the ads in a program containing sexual or violent content. On average, programs that did not contain sex and violence had a 39 percent advertising recall advantage over violent and sexual programming.

For the other results from the Iowa State advertising study, Pax TV is offering the full text at http://www.pax.tv/researchfindings/.

Univision’s WXTV weekend news beats WNBC in New York: The Saturday news broadcast on Univision station WXTV, New York, beat WNBC-TV in the overnight ratings race this weekend for the first time in the Spanish-language station’s three-year history. Univision’s 6 p.m. Saturday news broadcast, “Noticias 41,” earned a 3.5 Nielsen Station Index rating and 8 share, beating WNBC’s “NewsChannel 4,” which earned a 3.3/7. The occasion marked the first time that a Spanish-language news program has emerged as second in its time period among all programs on New York’s 10 broadcast TV stations. “Noticias 41” trailed only the 6 p.m. edition of WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News,” which scored a 4.3/9.

King sings on for more time at CNN: After months of speculation, CNN has re-signed chief White House correspondent John King. In addition to keeping Mr. King on his high-profile beat, CNN is in discussion with the correspondent about an expanded role in which his visibility is increased. “Everyone here is very happy,” said a CNN spokeswoman.

DirecTV, Film Roman create film festival: DirecTV, the nation’s largest direct broadcast satellite service, has joined with Hollywood animation producer Film Roman to offer its DirecTV-Level13.net Animated Film Festival in December. Established by Film Roman, producer of such hit shows as “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” Level13.net was launched in November of 1999 as a multichannel animation network for the Internet offering a wide variety of both acquired and originally produced animated short programming.

Serving as a platform for working artists, undiscovered animators and student filmmakers, the festival will showcase the best in independently produced animation from around the world.

Winners of the festival will have their submissions showcased on DirecTV as part of a “DirecTV Freeview” event series scheduled to air in December. In addition, DirecTV will broadcast selected short films from the Level13.net Web site as part of the “Blockbuster Ticket,” which is exclusively featured in DirecTV’s pay-per-view countdown clock shown before a movie begins.

Submissions will be accepted in three specific categories: 2-D animation, 3-D animation and experimental animation. A blue ribbon panel of judges will choose the winners based on storytelling, animation direction, art direction and production design. First-, second- and third-prize winners will be chosen in each of the three categories. A grand-prize winner will also be selected for the film considered “Best of Show,” and the filmmaker will receive a DirecTV System and $2,500. The contest will run through Sept. 28.

U.S. Robotics introduces faster modem: U.S. Robotics has introduced the U.S. Robotics DOCSIS (data-over-cable service interface specification) cable modem. The new modem is now shipping to ISPs but is intended to ultimately become available directly to consumers through retailers. The modem will allow users to surf the Web at up to 38 megabits per second, according to a company statement. It is compatible with PC, Linux and Macintosh systems and can be connected via USB or ethernet ports.

Potter takes on new TNN role: Tina Potter has been named to the newly created position of vice president, Brand Central creative group, TNN: The National Network. In her new position, Ms. Potter will be responsible for TNN’s total on-air and off-air look and sound as well as its print media creative.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications