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Mar 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, March 4, at 10:55 a.m. (PT); last updated 2:20 p.m.

‘The Court’ getting repurposed for cable

Add “The Court,” ABC’s new Supreme Court drama starring Sally Field, to the ever-lengthening list of new broadcast series most likely heading for cable repurposing.

“The Court” is expected to go to ABC Family, where it will join both ABC’s “Alias” and its “According to Jim,” although an ABC Family spokeswoman said, “Plans to repurpose ‘The Court’ on the channel are undecided.”

In the meantime, ABC Family is supporting the ABC debut of “The Court” with a six-hour marathon on March 24 of Ms. Field’s previous popular series, “The Flying Nun” and “Gidget.”

One factor that will determine “The Court”‘s cable fate is the Nielsen verdict: The repurposing plan is contingent on the new series doing well enough on the Alphabet Network to justify increasing its production order.

Rae returns to WFOR: After a year and a half at WCBS-TV, New York, anchor Angela Rae will return to CBS-owned sister station WFOR-TV, Miami. She will begin by doing special reports in April and May.

“We’ll evaluate where we’ll put her,” WFOR General Manager Steve Mauldin said of the anchor, adding that she is “excited about coming back home to Miami.” Ms. Rae spent five years at WFOR. At WCBS, she was 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor. “The great thing about Angela coming back is people here are familiar with her,” Mr. Mauldin said. “She is an incredibly smart lady and gifted.”

At WCBS, noon anchor Cindy Hsu will add the 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. news to her duties and Dana Tyler, who anchors the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news, will add the 11 p.m. news to her duties as of March 11.

Stations seek to extend deadline for DTV transition: As of Monday afternoon, 412 of the nation’s 1,288 commercial TV stations had requested extensions from a Federal Communications Commission requirement that they launch digital television operations by May 1, according to the FCC. A full account of the extension applicants won’t be available until Tuesday because agency rules permit stations to file electronically until midnight.

News Corp.’s Chernin says ad market on its way up: The worst is over for the U.S. advertising market, Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp., told a London new media and broadcasting conference today, according to a report in Britain’s Financial Times newspaper.

“It feels as if we have hit bottom, but we are a long way from hitting boom time,” Mr. Chernin said, predicting a modest single-digit revenue jump for the first quarter of 2002, compared with last year.

Mr. Chernin also predicted that the June launch of “Pop Idol,” a reality series based on a UK format, will reverse the ratings decline at Fox Broadcasting, which he attributed to the “decline” of “The X-Files” and “Ally McBeal.”

Doerr leaves post at NBC Television Stations: Stephen Doerr, senior VP of news, programming and creative development for the NBC Television Stations division, resigned Friday, citing personal reasons. The move caught many colleagues by surprise. A spokesman for NBC said the network and its stations division wish Mr. Doerr well.

Mr. Doerr, who was unavailable for comment, had held a number of key positions with NBC stations. He was news director at WRC-TV in Washington; news director of WCAU-TV in Philadelphia during a period of great growth (1993-98); and president and general manager of KXAS-TV in Dallas. He took up his most recent position in May 2001.

Writers Guild doles out TV writing awards: The 54th Annual Writers Guild Awards, in gala ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills and the Pierre Hotel in New York, handed out its episodic awards on Saturday night as follows:

Original Long -Form

“Conspiracy” (HBO), written by Loring Mandel for HBO Films.

Adapted Long-Form

“Anne Frank” (ABC), teleplay by Kirk Ellis, based on the book by Melissa Muller originally published by Claasen Verlag, Munich, Germany; Milk and Honey Productions in association with Dorothy Pictures.

Episodic Drama

“The Sopranos” (HBO) for the episode “Pine Barrens,” teleplay by Terence Winter, story by Tim Van Patten & Terence Winter; Chase Films/Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Original Programming.

Episodic Comedy

“Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS), for the episodes “Italy” (Parts 1 & 2 ), written by Philip Rosenthal; HBO Independent Productions and Worldwide Pants in association with Where’s Lunch.

Comedy/Variety – Music, Awards, Tributes – Specials – Any Length

“The Kennedy Center Honors” (CBS), written by Don Baer and George Stevens Jr., film sequences written by Sara Lukinson, Harry Miles Muheim; A George Stevens Jr. Presentation, Kennedy Center Television Productions.

Comedy/Variety – (Including Talk) Series

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien” (NBC), writers are Mike Sweeney, Chris Albers, Ellen Barancik, Andy Blitz, Kevin Dorff, Jonathan Glaser, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O’Brien, Andrew Secunda, Robert Smigel, Brian Stack and Andrew Weinberg for Broadway Video.

Daytime Serials

“All My Children” (ABC), writers are Agnes Nixon, Jean Passanante, Craig Carlson, Frederick Johnson, N. Gail Lawrence, Victor Miller, Juliet Law Packer, Addie Walsh, Mimi Leahey, Bettina F. Bradbury, Charlotte Gibson, David Hiltbrand, Janet Iacobuzio, Royal Miller, John Piroman, Rebecca Taylor and Neal Bell for ABC Daytime.

Children’s Script

“My Louisiana Sky” (Showtime), teleplay by Anna Sandor, based on the novel by Kimberly Willis Holt, a Hyperion Studio & Aviator Films Production.

Documentary – Current Events

“Frontline” (PBS), for the episode “Drug Wars” (Part 2), written by Lowell Bergman, Kenneth Levis and Doug Hamilton and Oriana Zill; for Rain Media in cooperation with WGBH-TV in Boston and Cambay Productions.

Documentary – Other Than Current Events

“Nova” (PBS), for the episode “Hitler’s Lost Sub,” written by Rushmore DeNooyer; for Lone Wolf Pictures in cooperation with WGBH-TV.

Tied with:

“The American Experience” (PBS), for the episode “Scottsboro: An American Tragedy,” written by Barak Goodman, for Social Media Productions.

News – Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report

“Wedding Disaster” (WBBM-TV in Chicago), written by Jonathan Kaplan for CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago.

News – Analysis, Feature or Commentary

“The Cruelty Connection” (WBBM-TV in Chicago), written by Jonathan Kaplan for CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago.

In addition, the 13th Annual Producers Guild of America Awards, held Sunday night in Los Angeles, handed best series trophies to NBC’s “The West Wing” and HBO’s “Sex and the City” — mirroring the outstanding drama and comedy Emmy Awards they both earned last November. In a promising early turn for awards recognition, HBO’s critically acclaimed “Band of Brothers” miniseries won for best long-form programming.

Fox regains Sunday night ratings title: A week removed from the closing ceremony for NBC’s 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Fox reasserted its Sunday night dominance in the young adult demographics — highlighted by a repeat of “The Simpsons” outscoring its original airing.

Fox walked off with adults 18 to 49 wins in every half-hour of its 7 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) lineup, topped off by “The Simpsons” posting a 6.7 rating/17 share in the demo from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. The encore presentation of “The Simpsons” outscored its original Dec. 2, 2001, airing (6.4 rating) by 5 percent. “The Simpsons” also bettered its original telecast by 8 percent in adults 18 to 34 (8.2 rating vs. 7.6 rating).

Fox’s other comedies fared well, with original episodes of “Futurama” (3.5/10) and “King of the Hill” (4.2/11) winning the 7 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49. At 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., “Malcolm in the Middle” won its frame (6.4/15), holding 96 percent of “The Simpsons'” lead-in.

Meanwhile, CBS’s “60 Minutes” returned to form as well, winning the 7 p.m. hour in households (11.6/19) and total viewers (16.8 million) while finishing second in adults 18 to 49 (
3.4/9). However, in continuing signs of trouble, “The Education of Max Bickford” slid 47 percent to a 1.8/5 among adults 18 to 49 from “60 Minutes'” lead-in hour. “Bickford” similarly dropped 34 percent in both households (7.8/12) and total viewers (11.0 million), finishing in second- and third-place positions for the 8 p.m. hour. An overrun of a National Basketball Association game (Indiana Pacers-Sacramento Kings) dropped NBC into a cellar-dwelling 1.7/4 average in adults 18 to 49 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” presentation of “Cinderella” came in second for the 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame in adults 18 to 49 (4.2/11) but came out the clear winner in the target kids 6 to 11 demographic (5.9/18).

Fox’s “The X-Files,” which will make its final bow in May, won the 9 p.m. hour, barely edging ABC’s “Alias” (4.6/10 vs. 4.5/10) in adults 18 to 49. A repeat of ABC’s “The Practice” took the 10 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (4.4/11), households (8.0/14) and total viewers (11.7 million). NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” came in second in adults 18 to 49 (3.6/9), households (6.1/10) and total viewers (9.1 million).

CBS’s highly promoted 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. made-for-TV movie “Crossed Over,” the true story of suburban housewife Beverly Lowry (played by Diane Keaton) befriending death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), turned in disappointing third-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (2.7/6), households (6.1/10) and total viewers (8.9 million).

For the night, Fox’s winning 5.0/12 in adults 18 to 49 held a 16 percent advantage over ABC’s 4.3/11 score. CBS won households (7.9/13) but tied with NBC for third in adults 18 to 49 (both at 2.7/7 averages) for the evening.

Soap star Mary Stuart dead at 75: Mary Stuart, who played Meta Bauer on the daytime soap “Guiding Light” since 1996 and earlier starred for 35 years (1951-86) as Jo Gardner in “Search for Tomorrow,” both on CBS, died at her home in New York City on Feb. 28 due to complications from a stroke. Ms. Stuart was 75.

Ms. Stuart was inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame in 1995, and was the first daytime performer to be nominated for an Emmy Award, in 1962, competing against prime-time stars before there was a separate category for daytime. She later received four Daytime Emmy nominations and was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Donations in Ms. Stuart’s memory can be made to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Mary Stuart Book Fund, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

AP names KTVU-TV Station of the Year: Fox affiliate KTVU-TV, Oakland, Calif., was named Station of the Year by the Associated Press Television-Radio Association of California and Nevada this weekend in Anaheim. It’s the AP’s 30th year of giving out the award.

More than 90 awards were given out at the ceremony. The morning news at WB affiliate KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, won for best 60 minute newscast. KTLA won six awards from the association, including best television news writing, best live coverage of a news event and best television spot news story. KTLA veteran Hal Fishman won as best television anchor and also took the lifetime achievement award. WB affiliate KSWB-TV, San Diego, won for excellence in enterprise reporting and excellence in station spot news.

Benedek signs 5-year Nielsen deal: Nielsen Media Research and the 23 Benedek Broadcasting Corp.-owned television stations, covering 3.8 percent of the United States, have reached a five-year renewal agreement. Benedek stations range from KAKE-TV, in Wichita, Kan., (market No. 65) to KGWC-TV in Casper, Wyo, (market No. 200). All the Benedek markets are measured quarterly with paper diaries.

Lawenda takes TNN ad sales position: David Lawenda has been named senior VP of ad sales for TNN: The National Network. Mr. Lawenda, whose appointment is effective immediately, will be responsible for national advertising sales. Prior to joining TNN, Mr. Lawenda was at Paramount for eight years, most recently as senior VP and general sales manager for Paramount Advertiser Services, where was responsible for syndicated ad sales for Paramount-produced programming.

Jones takes on Harding: It is Paula Jones, the former Arkansas government worker, who will be taking the place of “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher in a staged boxing match with former figure skater Tonya Harding, to be broadcast on Fox’s “Celebrity Boxing” Wednesday, March 13 (9 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET). White rapper Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) has also been added to fight on an undercard against an opponent to be named shortly, said a Fox spokesman.

Ms. Jones, who is best known for filing a 1994 sexual harassment suit against then-President Clinton, will now duke it out with Ms. Harding, who gained tabloid fame in 1994 for being involved in a plot to injure rival skating star Nancy Kerrigan. Fox would only say that Ms. Fisher “backed out for personal reasons.”

These additions to the three-card boxing event join previously announced wannabe pugilists Danny Bonaduce, a one-time child star of TV’s “Partridge Family,” and Barry Williams of “The Brady Bunch.”

Ms. Jones, who continues to live in Arkansas, has since settled her harassment suit (dating back to when Bill Clinton was governor of the state). She remains in the public eye, posing nude in the December 2000 issue of Penthouse magazine.

Mr. Van Winkle, commonly known as Vanilla Ice, took the pop charts by storm in early 1990 with his crossover single “Ice Ice Baby.” After an unsuccessful sophomore album, the rapper retreated from the public eye, opening a motorcycle shop in Miami. In 1998, Van Winkle resurfaced with a new, edgier sound and look, as well as a new album, “Hard to Swallow.” He continues to tour the country promoting his music.

“Celebrity Boxing” is being produced by Dick Clark Productions, with Mr. Clark serving as executive producer.#

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications