Hollywood Notes

Oct 22, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Fox shuts down long-form programming
Fox is eliminating its long-form network programming unit-laying off all five people from the department-following the trend set by other broadcast networks that have drastically reduced their slate of made-for-TV movies and miniseries. A senior Fox executive said the cuts resulted from declining ratings for long-form programs and the fact that the network programs 35 percent fewer hours (18 hours in all) than the Big 3 broadcast networks. Those pink-slipped were Marci Pool, executive VP of long-form programming; David Marko, VP of long-form; Greg Goldman, manager of long-form; and two administrative assistants. A Fox spokesman said production on “The Brady Bunch Goes to Washington,” headed by Gary Cole and Shelley Long, is still going forward and will be given an airdate to be announced later. Two other finished movies-“Rats” and “The Glow”-have finished production, with dates to be announced later as well.
Coca-Cola holiday project coming to Fox
Universal McCann Erickson Entertainment, on behalf of client Coca-Cola Co. and Rankin/Bass Productions, is producing an hour-long animated holiday special, “Santa Baby!” for broadcast from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Monday, Dec. 17, on Fox. In another sign of advertisers getting more directly involved in the creative direction of TV programming, the special is being billed as a “multicultural family program,” featuring original and classic holiday music in addition to the voices of singers Gregory Hines, Eartha Kitt, Patti LaBelle and Vanessa Williams.
`Sally Jessy Raphael’ renews deal
After 18 years on the air-and as the longest-running talk show host in syndication-Sally Jessy Raphael signed a multiyear renewal deal last week with distributor Studios USA. In renewing Ms. Raphael’s deal, Steve Rosenberg, president of Studios USA Domestic Television, noted that since “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show” launched on Oct. 17, 1983, a total of 60 syndicated talk show strips have come and gone, including more than 20 in just the past five years. “In an environment where it is increasingly difficult for studios and broadcast stations to launch new daytime syndicated series, it is very important to have an established show like `Sally’-with such a loyal following and ratings already higher than what new series hope to achieve-in the market,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a statement.
NBC orders Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom
NBC has made a 12-episode order for the new Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom “22 Minutes With Eleanor Riggs,” which is being readied for a yet-to-be specified midseason launch. The order, placed with series producer Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Co., is double the commitment that was previously expected. Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, who co-starred for nine seasons on NBC’s “Seinfeld,” returns as Los Angeles nightclub singer Ellie Riggs, a single woman whose life is examined in a 22-minute weekly “snapshot.” The series was written and created by Ms. Louis-Dreyfus’ husband Brad Hall (“Saturday Night Live,” “Brooklyn Bridge”).
Short takes
After two postponements, CBS and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences have set Sunday, Nov. 4 for the broadcast of “The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.” The Emmys will be held at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles with Ellen DeGeneres remaining as host. Gary Smith will take over the executive producer chores for the show from Don Mischer, who was to be show runner for the canceled Oct. 7 event. … Creative Artists Agency has hired veteran agent Alan Berger as head of the news and public affairs department, bringing with him such A-list news talent as Katie Couric and Larry King as clients under the CAA umbrella. … Reed Manville, a 15-year NBC veteran and former general manager of KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, has been promoted to executive VP of international channels for Viacom’s Paramount Television Group. He was previously senior VP of international channels. … Jack Wakshlag, a 24-year veteran TV ratings research expert, has been promoted to executive VP of research at The WB Network.