Briefly Noted

Jun 4, 2001  •  Post A Comment

EchoStar puts lawsuit on hold
EchoStar last week agreed to extend a key filing deadline to June 12 in its pending antitrust suit against DirecTV. In its suit, Echostar accuses DirecTV of threatening economic harm to retailers offering both rival services. Under this new agreement between the two companies, the suit is now on hold, which some say paves the way for Echostar to make a long-awaited counterbid for DirecTV. Last week, there was speculation about SBC Communications or other phone companies joining EchoStar as an equity partner. SBC and Verizon already offer a satellite service-DirecTV-to their local customers, as does BellSouth, which offers Echostar. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom also has been mentioned as a possible interested party. Having an equity interest in a combined Echostar-DirecTV would give telcos a broader platform off which to launch voice and data services.
ABC’s Aaron Brown moving to CNN
The new face of CNN is going to be Aaron Brown, the ABC News wordsmith who earned a national cult following as the acerbic and smart founding co-anchor (with Lisa McRee) of ABC’s overnight “World News Now.” Mr. Brown will start at CNN this summer and by fall is scheduled to be headlining an hour-long evening newscast to be developed around him. He is expected to anchor major breaking stories and live events. The newscast will originate from the Unitel studios on Manhattan’s West 57th Street.
Schroder to exit `NYPD Blue’; Gosselaar on deck
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 21/2 seasons with the ABC drama. 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. “Blue’s” producers and writers are still working out ways to write Mr. Schroder, who did not appear in the season finale, out of the show. Mr. Schroder’s absence is expected to be filled by new cast member Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“Saved by the Bell”) next season.
Fox summer high on original programming
Fox has locked in two new shows and original episodes of a returning show for summer runs. Alternative/mystery series “Murder in Small Town X” will run for 8 weeks, starting with a 90-minute special premiere (8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET) on Tuesday, July 17, before moving to Tuesdays at 9 p.m. the following week. Unaired episodes of anthology series “Night Visions” will air on Thursdays starting July 12. The series kicks off with a two-hour premiere, then moves to the 9 p.m. time slot coming out of new episodes of “Guinness World Records: Primetime,” starting the following week.
Additionally, new episodes of animated series “The Family Guy” will air at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday coming out of 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; “The 2001 Teen Choice Awards” will air Monday, Aug. 20; 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’s Black River” on Friday, July 6; and the broadcast premiere of the telefilm “WWIII”airs Friday, June 11.
Barzilay adds Toon Disney
Jonathan Barzilay, a longtime general manager of ABC’s children’s programming for the broadcast network, has been promoted to senior vice president and general manager, adding management of ABC Cable Networks Group’s all-animation Toon Disney cable channel to his responsibilities. Mr. Barzilay, who will report to Anne Sweeney, president of ABC Cable Networks Group and president of Disney Channel Worldwide, will manage day-to-day operations for Toon Disney and will continue to be responsible for coordinating all network functions for “Disney’s One Saturday Morning,” ABC’s weekly five-hour children’s programming block.
Ullman headed for Oxygen
Actress/comedian Tracey Ullman, whose 1980s sketch comedy series became one of the first signature shows of the then-fledgling Fox Broadcasting Co., is coming to Oxygen. Her new series, a weekly half hour with an 11-episode commitment, is called “Tracey Ullman’s Visible Panty Lines.” It takes a look at fashion, its foibles and its influences in every sphere of modern life. Each episode will focus on a celebrity guest’s personal style. Among the guests set for the first season are Cindy Crawford, Jackie Collins, Rita Wilson, Belinda Carlisle, Kathy Najimy, Rhea Perlman and Mo Gaffney. “Panty Lines” will be visible on Oxygen beginning in September.