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Jan 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

CBS renews 9 shows, but ‘Bickford,’ ‘Family Law,’ ‘Ellen’ still in doubt for next season

CBS has renewed four comedies and five dramas for 2002-03, but some of this season’s series may not make the cut.

CBS renewed its entire slate of Monday night comedies (“The King of Queens,” “Yes, Dear,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Becker”) and Tuesday dramas (“JAG,” “The Guardian” and “The Judging Amy”). As expected, full-season renewals were a formality for CBS’s hit 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) Thursday hit drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which is going to get a spinoff series next season, and 10 p.m. Saturday drama “The District.”

Although CBS appears to have very few holes in its prime-time schedule, there are still several high-profile shows sitting on the fence, awaiting word whether they’ll return next season. Topping the list is freshman 8 p.m. Sunday drama, “The Education of Max Bickford,” which has exhibited renewed signs of growth in recent weeks. Sunday night’s airing of “Bickford,” starring Richard Dreyfuss, turned in a second-ranked 8.5 rating/13 share household average (representing 12.2 million total viewers) — marking its second highest ratings since its premiere on Sept. 30, 2001.

Also on the renewal watch list is the 10 p.m. Monday drama “Family Law” and the 8 p.m. Friday sitcom “The Ellen Show” (starring Ellen DeGeneres), which have both been somewhat challenged in attracting new audience sampling.

Among the latest renewals, one of the most unexpected surprises of this season has been the ratings success of 9 p.m. Tuesday drama, “The Guardian,” which is scheduled in what has been arguably the most competitive time period on TV this season. Emerging as TV’s top-rated and most watched new drama of the season, “The Guardian” has improved its time slot by 11 percent in households (9.2/14), 19 percent in total viewers (13.2 million), 24 percent in adults 18 to 49 (3.6/9) and 18 percent in adults 25-54 (4.5/10).

“The Guardian” is produced by Columbia TriStar Television, in association with CBS Productions. David Hollander, Mark Johnson and Michael Pressman are the executive producers.

John Edward to develop drama series: Nationally syndicated psychic John Edward is seeing a network drama series in his future. The talk show host, whose “Crossing Over With John Edward” launched into syndication last fall (distributed by Studios USA Domestic Television), has entered into a deal with Studios USA Programming to develop an hour-long dramatic series for a future sale to one of the broadcast networks. Mr. Edward does not plan to star in the series, a Studios USA spokesman said.

The scripted drama is about a man who wrestles with the ramifications of his psychic gift. The project is co-created by Mr. Edward (under the banner of his JECO Productions) with his producing partner Gina Rugolo of Rigberg, Roberts, Rugolo Management. Ms. Rugolo will also serve as a co-executive producer on the project, which has yet to name a full-time show runner to shepherd the series on a daily basis.

“Crossing Over With John Edward” is a hit talk show both for the Sci-Fi Channel (where it debuted in July 2000) and in national broadcast syndication (premiering Aug. 27, 2001). Mr. Edward is also author of the best-selling novels “One Last Time” and “What If God Were the Sun.”

Mr. Edward and Ms. Rugolo were represented in the deal by Endeavor Agency and attorneys Joel McKuin of Colden McKuin Frankel and Marc Chamlin of Loeb and Loeb. Studios USA is a division of Barry Diller’s USA Networks Entertainment Group, a producer/distributor of network and syndicated TV series.

WCBS-TV opening Jerusalem bureau: WCBS-TV, New York, will launch a news bureau in Jerusalem, with Kimberly Dozier as chief correspondent, beginning in February. She will file daily reports for the CBS-owned station.

“The events taking place in the Middle East have an enormous impact on the tri-state area and the people who live here,” said Joel Cheatwood, WCBS news director. “Many people in our area have family and friends who live in or around the Mideast, while others reside there part time. Needless to say, there is a keen interest in the issues and events impacting the region. It is truly local news to the tri-state area.” Ms. Dozier most recently served as London-based reporter for CBS News and bureau chief for CBS Radio News.

Olympics boost NBC scatter pricing: The upcoming Winter Olympic Games are bolstering NBC’s scatter pricing at flat to slightly higher than upfront pricing for the first time in more than a year — and will likely render a $75 million profit — with ad time 97 percent sold, according to John Inch, analyst at Bear Stearns. The Olympics will boost NBC’s overall financial outlook, increasing sales 11 percent (instead of declining 2 percent without the Games) and operating income 7 percent in 2002 (instead of gaining 2 percent without the Games). The close of NBC’s Telemundo purchase in the third quarter of 2002 also is expected to boost sales and profits at year’s end, he said.

Cablevision projects solid 2002 growth: Cablevision Systems said Monday it expects its total telecommunications operations to achieve 10 percent to 12 percent revenue growth and operating cash flow growth of about 15 percent in 2002, including $18 million in savings related to recent restructuring. It said its cable-based Cablevision NY Group should see a 6 percent rise in revenues and a 25 percent rise in operating cash flow. Its Rainbow Media Group should realize 17 percent growth in operating cash flow on a 16 percent rise in revenues. The 2002 guidance was the first the company has given ahead of reporting its latest quarterly earnings Feb. 14.

Football, ‘Rose Red’ propel Fox, ABC demo wins: Both the NFL playoffs and Stephen King seem to be can’t-miss ratings propositions. Fox’s Sunday telecast of the National Football Conference championship game, which started at 4:30 p.m. (ET) and carried into the 7 p.m.-to-8 p.m. prime-time hour, carried the network to across-the-board wins in adults 18 to 49, households and total viewers for the night.

Based on preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data, the 7 p.m.-to-8 p.m. portion of the NFC title game scored an 18.3 rating/29 share in households, 13.2/33 in adults 18 to 49, 13.8/40 in adults 25 to 49 and 30.4 million total viewers in the time slot.

The early fast national track, which often does not provide an accurate measure when it comes to live sports events, had Fox winning the night by a handsome 28 percent margin in adults 18 to 49 (8.5/20) for the night over second-place ABC (6.6/15) Sunday evening. The preliminary measure was Fox’s best overall adults 18 to 49 score in three months, according to network researchers. Fox also won the night in households (10.9/17) and total viewers (17.9 million).

With the NFC postgame coverage carrying over into the 8 p.m. hour by an estimated 15 minutes, it propelled original airings of “The Simpsons” (7.7/19) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (7.6/17) to easy wins in the adults 18 to 49 demographic.

ABC’s first-part airing of the miniseries “Stephen King’s Rose Red” dominated the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. frame with commanding wins in adults 18 to 49 (9.6/22), households (11.8/18) and total viewers (19.9 million). Among adults 18 to 49, ABC researchers said “Rose Red” ranked as the highest-rated telefilm since May 3, 1999, and the most-watched part one of a Stephen King movie since “The Langoliers” (May 14, 1995). The final two parts of the miniseries air Monday and Thursday, the latter being the first day of the February sweeps period.

“Rose Red,” CBS’s competing airing of the telefilm “My Sister’s Keeper” finished second in the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. span with a handsome 10.3/16 score in households. Fox’s “The X-Files” came in second in adults 18 to 49 (5.2/10) during the 9 p.m. hour, but may have seen its numbers boosted by runover of “Malcolm” being combined with its demo score. NBC’s dramas, an original episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and a special repeat run of “Third Watch,” finished with third-ranked 4.4/9 and 2.9/7 scores for their 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. runs, re

CNN, Fox News equally ‘fair and balanced’: How well has television news done in its post-Sept. 11 coverage? Has it been factual or opinionated, balanced or one-sided?

A new study finds TV news coverage in general “more decidedly pro-administration” than newspaper coverage. And in the bitter war of words between Fox News Channel and CNN over which is the more “fair and balanced,” the study finds “no appreciable difference in the likelihood of CNN [as opposed to FNC] to air viewpoints that dissent from American policy.”

Those are the top-line results from a study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism with Princeton Survey Research Associates, which compared levels of “factualness” to levels of “analysis” and “punditry” on television as well as in print. Analysis, the study holds, is ostensibly based on facts and evidence, while punditry is based merely on opinion mongering.

Other TV results:

Morning shows provided some of the “most serious reporting around … full of facts and well sourced. Within the various broadcast genres studied, these shows had the greatest percent of factual reporting (74 percent) and only 12 percent opinion and speculation.”

Of the morning shows, the level of “factualness” of ABC’s “Good Morning America” stood out. “In December the gap in factualness between ‘GMA’ and CBS’s “Early Show” reached 21 points (65 percent vs. 44 percent).

The evening network newscasts “looked strikingly similar in their coverage of this crisis so far,” according to the study. “They were all highly factual. They all had similarly low levels of punditry. They all had similarly high numbers of sources in each story.” Crisis coverage on all three evening newscasts was about two-thirds factual, the study concludes.

Like CNN, “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” PBS’s evening newscast, has somewhat of a reputation for liberalism, which the crisis-coverage study seemingly debunked. “Overall, more than three-quarters, or 77 percent, of its applicable stories entirely supported U.S. policy, the same as CNN’s “NewsNight With Aaron Brown,” the study found.

Not surprisingly, the various talk shows studied had the lowest levels of factual information. Talk shows in September “were nearly four times more likely than the evening news and three times more likely than morning news to engage in opinion mongering”; in November, the talk shows “abandoned even this measure of factuality. Factual accounts dropped to just 32 percent of what was on the talk shows. Punditry surged to 40 percent. Analysis nearly doubled to 28 percent,” the study found.

A spokesman for Fox News described the results of the study as “not surprising.” The spokesman also said that an assertion that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes talked often of “CNN’s anti-administration bias,” a characterization that appeared in advance copies of the report provided to the press Friday, was being changed to read: “CNN’s possible bias.”

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications

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