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Oct 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 2:30 p.m. (PT); update at 4:55 p.m.

Emmy organizers focus on security

“The show must go on” continues to be the rallying call for CBS’s telecast this Sunday of “The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards,” which has been postponed twice since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Organizers behind the Emmy Awards show said plans are moving forward for a toned-down and scaled-back show — despite a broad U.S. government alert Monday warning of potential terrorist attacks during the next week or so.

Bryce Zabel, chairman of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, said he was in the middle of a security briefing Monday with various government agencies when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a general terrorist alert based on “credible” information gleaned by intelligence agencies. In that briefing, which included the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department, Mr. Zabel said the agencies are working on a variety of security guidelines to ensure the safety of Emmy Award nominees, presenters and studio and network executives attending the show.

“When we got the Ashcroft warning, it was issued as a general warning for the public, but we had been continuously on a heightened security alert” since the second time the Emmy Awards were aborted on Oct. 7, Mr. Zabel said. “We have already brought on all of the [security] manpower, and we’re prepared to be in a high state of alert” for this Sunday’s awards show, which has been moved to the Shubert Theatre in the Century City district of Los Angeles.

Mr. Zabel said all cars entering the “safe zone” will be searched thoroughly, and people entering the Shubert Theatre will face magnetometer screenings to search for metallic weapons. Although declining to divulge the exact number of police officers and other security personnel, Mr. Zabel suggested the smaller 2,000-seat Shubert venue — compared with the 6,000-seat Shrine Auditorium — should make it easier to screen attendees for the Emmys show.

On the subject of reduced seating, Mr. Zabel said ATAS did not use all of the seats at the Shrine, and the TV organization simply offered reduced blocks of seats to remaining studio, network and talent agency executives attending the three-hour show.

Gary Smith, who has been brought in to executive produce the Emmys telecast in place of Don Mischer, described the seating arrangement for the Shubert as more intimate “continental seating,” where there will be no aisles. He said stars and presenters are expected to be seated further back in some situations and will not be photographed as much by TV cameras during the telecast.

As previously stated, Mr. Smith and Mr. Zabel said a bicoastal feed from New York (originally scheduled for the Oct. 7 telecast) has been dropped. Mr. Smith said the casts from a number of New York-based shows plan to be in attendance Sunday night. He also said that it was not immediately known whether “Sopranos” co-star James Gandolfini would be able to make it due to scheduling conflicts.

With Ellen DeGeneres again set to host the Emmys show, Mr. Smith said former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite — who had been scheduled to open the Oct. 7 telecast — will instead appear several minutes into the Emmycast via satellite from Toronto. Mr. Smith said some previous segments dealing with the more immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks have been removed in favor of some new pre-produced packages, such as a historical retrospective on Hollywood stars (including Bob Hope) who have entertained U.S. troops and the public during times of war.

Mr. Zabel noted that the Emmys telecast will be seen in 90 countries outside of the United States.

Fox wins key demo with Monday premieres: Fox’s season openers of “Boston Public” and “Ally McBeal” put the network back into the win column among the adults 18 to 49 demo Monday night.

“Boston Public” kicked off Fox’s evening with a robust 6.2 rating/16 share in adults 18 to 49, improving 21 percent over its 5.2/14 average in demo over its freshman season average (2000-01), according Nielsen Media Research national data. In its core women 18 to 34 demo (6.9/17), “Boston Public” also improved the 8 p.m. (ET) hour by 28 percent over last season’s average (5.4/14). “BP” also registered a second-ranked 8.8/13 in households and 13.8 million total viewers for the hour.

Although dropping 17 percent from its lead-in, the David Kelley-produced stablemate “Ally McBeal” turned in a 5.2/12 in adults 18 to 49 — finishing third behind CBS’s comedy tandem of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (7.6/18) and “Becker” (5.5/13) and the first hour of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (6.1/14).

Overall, Fox won the evening in adults 18 to 49 (5.8/14), improving 61 percent over last week’s Game 5 of the American League Championship Series between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees (3.6/9).

Meanwhile, CBS was even week to week in adults 18 to 49 (5.3/13) on the night. NBC, whose Sept. 11-themed “Third Watch” (3.3/8) dropped 23 percent among adults 18 to 49, finished down 15 percent week to week for night in the key demo (3.9/10).

Tauzin urges pricing requirements for EchoStar-DirecTV: A leading congressional voice on communications issues may back the EchoStar-DirecTV merger if certain conditions are imposed. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants the deal conditioned on a requirement that the new company offer uniform nationwide pricing so rural customers pay the same rates as urban ones, said spokesman Ken Johnson.

That’s because rural customers, many with no access to cable, would no longer have a choice of direct broadcast satellite providers. The congressman also wants assurances that wireless video upstart Northpoint Technology can secure the federal licenses it needs to enter the marketplace. EchoStar and DirecTV have opposed the company’s entrance, insisting it would cause interference. Northpoint denies the accusations. The congressman remains undecided about the merger plan as he continues to assess it.

Meanwhile, he hopes to hold a hearing in the near future on program access and digital must-carry, two issues that would affect the deal.

New York broadcasters band together: After working informally together since the attack on the World Trade Center took out the main transmitters of all but two local broadcast outlets, 11 New York-area broadcasters have formed a coalition. That coalition will address short-term questions related to restoring signals and long-term questions related to securing a position on a building or tower that can accommodate the requisite number of analog and digital transmitters and that will replicate the reach stations had before the World Trade Center Towers — and the antennas atop them — were toppled on Sept. 11.

“The future of public and commercial broadcasting in the region is literally at stake right now,” said Bill Baker, president and CEO of public broadcaster WNET-TV and a member of the coalition. He said the stations believe their best bet may be to build and manage a shared tower.

The coalition includes WCBS-TV and Univision’s WXTV — the only two stations whose broadcast signals were undisturbed, because their main transmitters were atop the Empire State Building — and WABC-TV, which has just put up a new antenna at the Empire State Building. WABC had been operating at reduced power with a temporary transmitter on the Alpine (N.J.) Tower.

Other members of the coalition are WNBC-TV, Fox duopoly stations WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV, WPIX-TV, WPXN-TV, WNJU-TV and WHSE-TV.

NBC wins 18 to 49 demo, CBS takes households: Breaking up four weeks of consecutive wins by NBC in households and total viewers, CBS took home those honors for the fifth week (Oct. 22 to 28) of the 2001-02 season. However, NBC did maintain its grip on the key adults 18 to 49 demo for the season.

Led by last Tuesday’s and Thursday’s most watched episodes ever for “Judging Amy” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” respectively, CBS’s 8.7 rating/14 share average in households and 12.8 million total viewers just edged out NBC in b
oth categories (8.6/14, 12.7 million viewers). On a season-to-date basis in households and total viewers, CBS (8.3/13, 12.25 million) is second to NBC (8.7/14, 12.74 million). However, compared with year-ago fifth week of the season, CBS is up 4 percent in households and 8 percent in total viewers while NBC is down 4 percent in both categories.

In the key adults 18 to 49 demo, NBC’s 5.0/13 led all comers for the fifth week in a row, improving 5 percent from the week before but moving down 11 percent from its year-ago weekly average (5.6/15). CBS came in third in adults 18 to 49 (4.0/11), but thanks in some part to the fall 2001 start of “Survivor: Africa,” is up 15 percent from its year-ago average (3.5/9).

Airing the first two games of the World Series (last Saturday and Sunday), Fox’s second-ranked 4.1/11 in adults 18 to 49 improved 5 percent week to week, but the network was still down 19 percent from its year-ago average in the demo (5.1/13).

ABC, with “According to Jim” (starring James Belushi) unexpectedly emerging as its highest-ranked sitcom for the week in adults 18 to 49 (5.8/15), held even in the demo the for the week (3.9/10), but the network is still down 13 percent from its fifth-week average last season (4.5/12). As for the weblets, UPN (2.1/5) and The WB (2.0/5) were, respectively, even and up 11 percent in adults 18 to 49.

USA Television promotes Karnes: David Karnes has been promoted to senior vice president and general counsel, USA Television Production Group, it was announced Tuesday by David Kissinger, president, USA Television Production Group, to whom Mr. Karnes will report.

Mr. Karnes will continue to oversee legal services relating to the USA Television Production Group’s corporate operations, including labor relations, employment and human resources, litigation management, copyright and trademark. He will also handle production-related legal services for Studios USA Television, producer of the “Law & Order” franchise and other prime-time network television shows. He was promoted from vice president, legal affairs, USA Television Production Group.#

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications