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Mar 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, March 7, at 3:45 a.m. (PT); last updated at 1 p.m.

CNN looking at KoppelCNN is eyeing ABC’s Ted Koppel for its own newsbeat. The Atlanta-based all-news network’s Chairman Walter Isaacson would “love to talk” to Koppel about coming aboard, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN’s hometown newspaper.

Mr. Koppel is in play, of course, after ABC’s very public courtship of CBS’s David Letterman. The Alphabet Network has made it clear that it is ready to cast Mr. Koppel’s journalistically well-regarded “Nightline” aside to make room for the late-night host. MSNBC also has made overtures toward Mr. Koppel, according to the report, while Fox News Channel says it is not interested in making any bid.

Schrock, Shapiro upped at Big Ticket: Laura Schrock and Paul Shapiro, who have worked together on 15 pilots and five series in the last four years at Big Ticket Television, now have bigger tickets themselves at the Paramount division.

In an announcement made Thursday, Ms. Schrock has been named executive VP, creative affairs, and Mr. Shapiro has been named senior VP, series development.

Ms. Schrock came to Big Ticket in 1997 as a writer/producer. She was made senior VP of Big Ticket that year. In her new position, she will oversee all prime-time series development, syndication and current programming. Before joining Big Ticket, she was writer/producer at Lorimar/Warner Bros, an executive at NBC in comedy development and an Emmy Award-winning executive producer of network and cable talk and sketch-variety shows in New York.

For the past two years, Mr. Shapiro has served as VP, series development, at Big Ticket. Before joining the company, he was director of development at 3 Arts Television, where he was involved in the syndicated series “Pensacola: Wings of Gold.” He also worked at Columbia TriStar Television.

Series the duo has worked on include “Gary and Mike,” “Wolf Lake” and “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.”

UPN gets a piece of March Madness: The wonders of Viacom synergy are bringing March Madness to UPN, which will broadcast the CBS Sports-produced “The March to Madness” from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.

The special will look at the 65 teams participating in the 2002 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, utilizing exclusive footage from locker rooms, bus rides, coaches meetings and hometown celebrations, with a primary focus on this year’s Final Four teams and those of the past.

CBS Sports’ Greg Gumbel will narrate the special, and Clark Kellogg will follow the Final Four on the road to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

‘Hamtaro’ hamsters come to Cartoon: Cartoon Network, Turner Broadcasting’s all-animation network, has acquired 52 episodes of “Hamtaro,” a Japanese anime program that started a craze for pet hamsters among kids in Japan. “Hamtaro” will premiere in July. The show, based on a series of children’s storybooks, is aimed at the preschoolers who made “Pokemon” a sensation.

Despite the general economic downturn in TV, Cartoon saw “double-digit increases in ad sales” in 2001, said Jim Samples, the network’s executive VP and general manager, at a Manhattan press conference. Cartoon also expects to spend in excess of $500 million for original production, much of it created in-house, in the next five years, Mr. Samples said. Others Cartoon news unveiled at the press conference:

— New programming commitments have gone to “Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?” a six-episode order premiering in July about a middle-schooler who just happens to be a robot, and “Codename: Kids Next Door,” a 13-episode order debuting in November that won last year’s viewers-pick-the-pilot-that-goes-to-series contest. “Kids” is produced in New York City.

— In addition, Cartoon has ordered 20 new episodes of “Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law”; 54 new episodes of “Dragon Ball Z”; 20 new episodes of “The Powerpuff Girls,” whose big-screen debut is set for this July; 26 new episodes of “Samurai Jack,” which is also scheduled to get the big-screen treatment; 26 new episodes of “The Justice League;” 13 new episodes of “Grim & Evil”; 13 new episodes of “Home Movies,” which was originally picked up from UPN; 13 episodes of “Mission Hill” (premiering in May) and 13 episodes of “The Oblongs” (premiering in July).

— Specials set for the network include a “Johnny Bravo” Valentine’s Day show scheduled for 2003 and “The First Thirteenth Annual Fancy Anvil Award Show Program Live,” an animated awards-show parody that will be telecast March 23.#

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications