Hollywood Notes

Jan 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Allen to produce King miniseries for CBS
Byron Allen is developing a four-hour miniseries for CBS Entertainment based on the autobiography “My Life With Martin Luther King Jr.,” written by the civil rights leader’s wife Coretta Scott King. “After 14 years of pursuing Coretta Scott King, I was finally able to secure the rights to her book-one of the greatest love stories of all time, ” Mr. Allen said. He will produce the movie with the help of the King family and screenwriter Tina Andrews, whose writing credits include two CBS miniseries, “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal” and “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,” and the feature film “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.”
Fox, ABC playing musical chairs
In a game of one-upmanship, Fox has again pushed up the premiere of its extreme game show “The Chamber,” attempting to precede ABC’s opening bow of its similar quiz show “The Chair.” Fox filed a countersuit on Friday against Touchdown Productions of New Zealand, the producers of “The Chair,” which had filed a suit on Jan. 4 claiming that “The Chamber” was an outright ripoff of their concept.
Fox’s countersuit, which claims “unfair business practices” and “trespass,” claims “The Chair” executive producers Andrew Golder and Gregg Sherman had illegally entered a taping of “The Chamber” on Jan. 10. They were discovered and ejected from the closed set. Mr. Golder had reportedly attempted to lure a contestant coordinator for the show away to fill a similar position on “The Chair.”
In the race for public perception over which is the original concept, Fox thought it was important to get “The Chamber” on before its competitor aired “The Chair.” Fox will do so on Sunday, Jan. 13, just after its broadcast of an NFL playoff game. Rick Schwartz will host the game show. “The X-Files” will be pre-empted for the broadcast.
Jan. 15 is believed to be the earliest ABC can get “The Chair,” hosted by John McEnroe, on the air. The network will run the first episode of the program from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) on that date.
`Scrubs,’ `Crossing Jordan’ renewed
NBC has confirmed pickup of three of its freshman series for a second season. “Scrubs,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” will return to the schedule next fall, said NBC programming chief Jeff Zucker at the Television Critics Association Press Tour last week in Pasadena, Calif. Mr. Zucker also said that after the Olympics end in February, NBC will debut two all-new midseason series-“Watching Ellie” and “Leap of Faith.” Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Watching Ellie” will premiere after a “Frasier” repeat at 8:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, Feb. 26, while “Leap of Faith” will take the 8:30 p.m.-to-9 p.m. slot after “Friends” on Thursday, Feb. 28. Tim Meadows and Sarah Paulson have been added to the “Leap of Faith” cast. NBC will also be adding a third show to the midseason lineup-“New York Live” starring Colin Quinn. The comedy sketch show will film at Studio 8H, home of “Saturday Night Live,” at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Its prime-time time slot and debut date have yet to be determined.
Fox flees from `Tick’
Fox is canceling its sitcom “The Tick” after a somewhat ratings-challenged run in the highly competitive 8:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday time slot. “The Tick” had been averaging about a 2.5 rating among the key adults 18 to 49 demographic and appeared somewhat hobbled by a weak lead-in from “The Family Guy.” A source at Columbia TriStar Television, which produces the Patrick Warburton-led superhero satire, said Fox has not picked up the option beyond “The Tick’s” initial order of eight episodes and will give it a final airing on Jan. 24.
Wakshlag to head TBS research
Jack Wakshlag, a veteran network researcher at The WB, has moved over to join sister AOL Time Warner company Turner Broadcasting System in the newly created position of chief research officer. Mr. Wakshlag will oversee all of TBS’s research and audience development functions and retain oversight of research for The WB. He will move from Los Angeles to be based in Atlanta.