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Apr 17, 2002  •  Post A Comment

‘Hollywood Squares’ production company let go

The changes keep coming for King World Productions’ game-show strip “Hollywood Squares.” The show’s production company Moffit-Lee has been released, and the distributor will prepare the series for its first season without center square Whoopi Goldberg. The good news is that the strip’s host, Tom Bergeron, will return for another year, even if he is selected as the new co-host on CBS’ “The Early Show,” according to sources.

“(Executive producers) Pat (Tourk Lee) and John (Moffit) are great producers who we have a lot of respect for, but we feel that we need to make some changes on the show,” said Roger King, chairman and CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions.

ABC Family, Disney Kids combine ad sales units: ABC Family Channel and The Disney Kids Network have combined their advertising sales activities into a single unit called ABC Family & Kids, naming ABC sales veteran Laura Nathanson as its executive VP.

The creation of the new division, announced by ABC Television Group President Steve Bornstein, integrates ad sales for Disney/ABC Cable network properties (ABC Family Channel, Toon Disney), ABC’s Saturday morning broadcast lineup (Disney’s “One Saturday Morning” block) and Buena Vista Television’s syndicated lineup (mostly airing on UPN affiliates). Additionally, the new unit plans to pitch advertisers on other integrated marketing opportunities for The Disney Channel as well as on Radio Disney, Disney.com and its “Disney Adventures” magazine.

ABC said the new sales organization is designed to provide advertisers with a “comprehensive marketing platform,” tapping into programming across the assets of The Walt Disney Co., including its broadcast, cable, syndication, print, radio and online media properties. The ABC Family & Kids unit is on par with such integrated kids marketing units within Viacom/CBS and AOL Time Warner (including Turner Broadcasting Systems).

Ms. Nathanson, who most recently served as executive vice president and national sales manager for the ABC Television Network, will continue to be based out of New York, reporting to Angela Shapiro, president of ABC Family Channel. Ms. Nathanson originally joined ABC as senior VP of prime-time sales in March 1998. Prior to that, she also served in sales stints at Fox Broadcasting Co. and NBC, and once worked on network buying side at Grey Advertising, Young & Rubicam and BBDO Worldwide.

CBS, Clear Channel discussing affiliation for WTEV-TV: CBS and Clear Channel Television, which owns a thriving TV duopoly in Jacksonville, Fla., are in discussions about a possible deal that would make Clear Channel’s WTEV-TV, currently a UPN affiliate, the CBS affiliate in the market.

Post-Newsweek’s WJXT-TV, one of CBS’s strongest affiliates, announced recently that it was not going to renew its affiliate agreement of 53 years because it had been unable, in two years of talks with CBS, to get the compensation it thought the network should be paying the station. Instead, WJXT is going independent, a move that will be accompanied by a dramatic increase in news and syndicated programming.

If WTEV affiliates with CBS, it is expected that Clear Channel’s WAWS, which has a long-term affiliate agreement with Fox, would carry UPN programming as a secondary affiliate. A spokesman for CBS declined to comment.

“This is not a slam dunk on either side because of the ramifications,” said Susan Adams Loyd, who stressed she was speaking for the duopoly of which she is vice president and general manager and not for Clear Channel.

“One way or the other, we’ll hear something soon,” Ms. Adams Loyd said. The WJXT-CBS agreement expires July 10.

Clear Channel would be able to mount a promotional blitz about a WTEV affiliation switch on the seven radio stations it owns (plus four with which it has joint sales agreements) and its outdoor advertising properties.

Stephanopoulos being considered for ‘This Week’ moderator role: ABC News is giving serious consideration to making George Stephanopoulos the sole moderator of “This Week.” Also,”Good Morning America” is poised to give its newsreader job to ESPN veteran Robin Roberts, according to a report Wednesday from TV Guide.

During the four-plus years that Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts have co-hosted the Sunday newsmaker show, “This Week” has slipped to a distant second behind NBC’s “Meet the Press With Tim Russert,” leading to continuous speculation about the show being overdue for tinkering.

Ms. Roberts recently announced her plan to leave “This Week” after the election, and Mr. Donaldson has seemed to embrace Internet radio as his destiny.

“ABC is planning to make changes to this week but final decisions have not been made,” said a spokeswoman for “This Week.”

Management shuffles as close of KNTV sale approaches: With the now FCC-approved NBC acquisition of KNTV, San Jose, from Granite Broadcasting expected to close on April 30, KNTV News Director Scott Diener sent a memo to staffers Tuesday telling them he was leaving the station. In addition, KNTV General Manager Bob Franklin gathered station staff last week to tell them he was leaving when NBC takes over. Mr. Franklin was also running Granite-owned WB affiliate KBWB-TV, San Francisco, but Granite announced Wednesday that Bob Anderson will be the new general manager of KBWB as of May 1. As for who will run KNTV, NBC has a list of three to four finalists. It has been widely reported that NBC-owned WRC-TV General Manager Linda Sullivan is on the short list.

WB Tuesday lineup showing pre-sweeps strength: Tuesday night, coming less than two weeks before the start of the May sweeps (April 25-May 22), marked some strong open-field running for The WB’s “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville” dramas.

Opening the night at 8 p.m. (ET), “Gilmore Girls” beat all network competition in women 12 to 34 (4.7 rating/16 share), teens (4.6/17) and female teens (7.9/27) for the hour. The sophomore dramedy attracted 5.1 million total viewers overall.

At 9 p.m., freshman “Smallville” also continued on its season-long momentum, finishing second in the frame among adults 18 to 43 (3.6/11), women 18 to 34 (4.0/11), persons 12 to 34 (3.7/11), women 12 to 34 (4.2/12) and men 18 to 34 (3.2/10). Typical to form, young Clark Kent beat all network competition among teens (4.0/14), female teens (4.7/15) and male teens (3.3/12). “Smallville” drew 6.0 million total viewers.

A potential contributor to The WB dramas’ heightened output on Tuesday may be UPN’s back-to-back repeats of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,”which posted distant 1.5/5 averages in both persons 12 to 34 and females 12 to 34 for the 8 p.m. hour. That was followed by 0.9/3 and 1.0/3 averages in the same demos for the 9 p.m. hour.

For the night, The WB came out first among the networks in persons 12 to 34 (3.3/11), women 12 to 34 (4.5/14), teens (4.3/16) and female teens (6.3/21). UPN drew identical 1.2/4 averages in persons 12 to 34 and adults 18 to 34.

SEC probing Adelphia’s accounting practices: The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a formal investigation into Adelphia Communications and the controlling Rigas family’s $2.3 billion in loans guaranteed by the company to their partnerships. The formal probe gives the SEC power to subpoena documents and testimony. The company and SEC declined comment. Adelphia, which acknowledged the probe in a prepared statement, missed a second deadline filing on Tuesday for its annual report with the agency due to the ongoing review of its accounting practices. Adelphia may have to sell some or all of its cable systems as a result of the investigation and resulting action, analysts say.

SAG names Kincaid national director of stunt safety: The Screen Actors Guild announced that Sandy Kincaid, a longtime official in the actors’ union, has been named national director of stunt safety. The new position, which Ms. Kincaid started last Monday out of SAG’s Hollywood headquarters, has her reporting directly to Sallie Weaver, deputy national executive director for contracts at SAG.

Ms. Kincaid now serves as the key point person for guild-related issue
s pertaining to the stunt community. Ms. Kincaid will also represent the guild on matters dealing with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers industrywide Labor Management Safety Committee to discuss problems, find viable solutions and formulate safety standards for all performers. Stunt performers represent approximately 7 percent of SAG’s total membership, with many falling into high-earning categories.

Ms. Kincaid has been working in the guild’s Commercial Department in Hollywood since 1994 as an assistant administrator of special projects and commercials. During her tenure, Kincaid was responsible for interpreting and enforcing SAG commercials contracts and assisting with recruitment of signatories.

Jefferson Pilot Sports enlists rEvolution for sales support: Jefferson Pilot Sports, a leading syndicator of regional collegiate sports telecasts, has signed rEvolution to collaborate on sales support and client development for their Southeastern Conference football, SEC basketball, and Atlantic Coast Conference football regional TV networks.

Based in Chicago, rEvolution offers clients services in the areas of advertising and sponsorship sales, event management and production, promotion, and full service sports marketing outsourcing. rEvolution, founded by John Rowady, specializes in the areas of college athletics, motor sports and international sports federations.

Larry Mann, a former sales executive of ESPN Plus, recently joined as executive VP of sales to direct rEvolution’s sales effort.

Jefferson Pilot Sports, a division of TV and radio station group owner Jefferson-Pilot Communications, began regional TV syndication of ACC basketball in 1982, as co-rightsholder in partnership with Raycom Sports. The company added to their roster of sports products, with ACC football in 1984, SEC basketball in 1986 and SEC football in 1992. Jefferson Pilot Sports broadcasts season-long schedules of live, televised games across a network of 70-plus TV stations in the southeast.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications