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Hollywood Notes

Sep 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Buena Vista pulls out of NATPE
The Mouse is exiting the NATPE house now that syndicator Buena Vista Television has officially opted to eschew the convention floor in January. The distributor has already cleared 2002 strip “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in most of the country and now joins Warner Bros., Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and, likely, King World Productions in the NATPE exodus. A studio spokesperson did indicate Buena Vista wouldn’t be completely absent at NATPE and that it was “working with NATPE on other options” besides exhibiting its wares on the floor. At this point, it is unclear whether Buena Vista will move to an off-site hotel location, which the domestic divisions at Warner Bros. and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach opted for in lieu of booth space.
Paramount, `Becker’ actors settle
On the heels of their filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit Aug. 28 and staging two sick-outs from show rehearsals, the supporting cast of CBS’s “Becker” sitcom reached a settlement with series producer Paramount Network Television. Details of the settlement with the actors-Alex Desert, Terry Farrell, Saverio Guerra, Shawnee Smith and Hattie Winston-were not disclosed by the Viacom-owned studio. A studio statement noted, “There were some misunderstandings and miscommunication regarding [studio] policy, which have been cleared up, and everyone is delighted that the production will resume” on schedule for CBS’s Sept. 24 season opener in the 9:30 p.m. (ET) Monday time slot.
Appeals court lets `Mutant X’ stay
Fox was again thwarted in its attempt to prevent Tribune Entertainment from using the title “Mutant X” for the syndicator’s upcoming action hour. An appeals court upheld a ruling last month that Tribune had not infringed on the “X-Men” movie property that was released by Fox last year. “Once again, we are gratified but not surprised with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling this morning that denies Fox’s motion to bar our use of the title `Mutant X’ and shut down this exciting new program,” said Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment. “Last month the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York expressly ruled in our favor when it rejected Fox’s original motion. Now that Fox’s second attempt for an injunction also has failed, we continue to move forward with the production and distribution of `Mutant X,’ more confident than ever about its success.”
Studios USA etches deal with Diamond
Studios USA has signed a multiyear comedy development deal with writer/producer Bill Diamond, who is co-executive producer of The WB Network’s “Nikki” sitcom. Under terms of the deal, Mr. Diamond will exclusively develop sitcoms for the Barry Diller-run independent studio. Among Mr. Diamond’s TV credits are serving as executive producer of the former, long-running CBS comedy series “Murphy Brown” from 1995 to 1997. He joined that show as a co-producer in 1993 and was later promoted to supervising producer, then co-executive producer. Mr. Diamond was represented in the deal by the William Morris Agency.
NBC, CBS mix it up on reality Wednesday
NBC’s “Lost” and CBS’s “Amazing Race” premiered last Wednesday to nearly identical numbers. Both series scored a 7.5 rating/12 share in households, according to Nielsen Media Research fast nationals, while “Lost’s” 11.9 million total viewers held a 1 percent lead over “Race’s” 11.8 million viewers.
“Lost” had a 4.1/12 rating among adults 18 to 49, losing to CBS’s special episode of “Big Brother 2,” which had a 4.6/14. “Amazing Race” (5.0/13) was beaten by a 10 percent margin by NBC’s “Fear Factor,” which won the time slot among adults 18 to 49 with a 5.5/14.
NBC won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.6/13) and households (7.0/12), improving 4 percent and 39 percent over its respective week-ago Wednesday scores. Nevertheless, CBS posted impressive week-to-week 105 percent and 22 percent gains for its second-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (4.1/11) and households (6.6/11), respectively.