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May 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Man sues over ‘Candid Camera’ stunt

Paxson Communications, Peter Funt and his Candid Camera Inc. have been sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by a Ventura County, Calif., resident who claims to have been injured in a stunt he was the unwitting victim of at an Arizona airport June 15, 2001.

Phillip Zelnick alleges that he was passing through a security check point at Laughlin-Bullhead International Airport when a man, under the employ of Paxson and Candid Camera and posing as a security guard, instructed him that in order to access his departure gate, Mr. Zelnick was to lie down on the conveyor belt and pass through the luggage X-ray machine to be scanned.

The suit alleges that when Mr. Zelnick, believing the man to be an airport security official, complied, and was injured when his upper leg was caught in the machine’s rollers as the belt began to move. The rollers also caused a pen in Mr Zelnick’s pocket to twist and puncture his upper leg, the suit said.

Mr. Zelnick, who also named the airport and the Mojave County Airport Authority in his suit, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for, among other things, emotional and mental distress, loss of earnings and punitive damages.

KCOP-TV newcast moving into 11 p.m. slot: On Monday, June 3, the Fox-owned duopoly in Los Angeles will move the 10 p.m. news on its UPN affiliate KCOP-TV to 11 p.m. In its place, KCOP will air the syndicated shows “Seinfeld” at 10 p.m. and “Frasier” at 10:30 p.m. The move will put KCOP’s newscast head to head against shows from KNBC-TV, KCBS-TV and KABC-TV. KCOP will also no longer be competing against its sister station Fox-owned KTTV, which has a 10 p.m. newscast.

“This change will give viewers more programming choices,” said David Boylan, general manager of KTTV and KCOP. “Beginning June 3, viewers can choose to watch award winning comedies from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. We will also be able to provide two distinctly different local newscasts at 10 p.m. and at 11 p.m.”

Memorial for KCAL’s Dunphy scheduled: A memorial mass for KCAL-TV veteran anchor Jerry Dunphy will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Cyril Catholic Church, 15520 Ventura Blvd., Encino, Calif. It is open to the public. Mr. Dunphy died Monday night after suffering a heart attack May 15. He was 80 years old and an icon in local television news. He was also thought of as the inspiration for the Ted Baxter character on “Mary Tyler Moore.”

Zucker to run NBC’s West Coast Entertainment division: NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker now rules the West Coast for the Peacock Network. He’s adding responsibility for NBC Studios, NBC Enterprises and the NBC Agency to the NBC Entertainment duties he has had for the past 18 months. Mr. Zucker will report to NBC President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Lack.

The restructuring caps Mr. Zucker’s first full season as Entertainment chief, a season in which NBC extended its lead over the competition. The move takes effect immediately. It gives Mr. Zucker, who has proved to be a quick study, an aggressive programmer and a quotable promoter, a degree of control over NBC Entertainment that no single executive has enjoyed since ’80s wunderkind Brandon Tartikoff.

Marc Graboff, executive vice president of NBC West Coast, is expected to continue to be Mr. Zucker’s business affairs executive.

NBC Studios and NBC Enterprises were among the areas that had reported to NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa, who is segueing to a role focused on “strategic ventures.” Mr. Sassa, whose exit from the West Coast division has been expected for months, will report to Mr. Lack and to NBC Chairman Bob Wright. Most insiders see Mr. Sassa’s role as a transitional one that buys him time to find his next challenge.

In the announcement of the restructuring, Mr. Wright praised Mr. Zucker for having “hit the ground running” when he was promoted from “Today” executive producer and having done what Mr. Sassa had not: get into the “alternative series game.”

“Jeff is a great producer, showman and innovator,” said Mr. Lack.

Of Mr. Sassa, Mr. Wright said, “We are appreciative of the many contributions he has made to NBC.”

Black to stay with Lifetime: Carole Black, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, has reached agreement on a new three-year deal that will keep her at the top-rated women’s cable network.

While the deal has not yet been formally signed, Ms. Black has signed off on it and it is in effect done.

The new deal caps months of persistent speculation that had Ms. Black either moving up in the corporate Disney/ABC ranks or short-listed for most of the industry’s top open positions.

The reason for all the buzz? On her watch, Lifetime moved from sixth to first place among cable networks in prime time and total-day households. She has also done well by doing good, acting on the instinct that viewers want to feel a personal connection with the Lifetime brand. The network’s advocacy initiatives in the recent past have included campaigns to stop violence against women and to increase breast cancer awareness and affordable access to quality child care.

Prior to joining Lifetime in 1999, Ms. Black was president and general manager of KNBC, the NBC owned-and-operated station in Los Angeles. Named to the KNBC post in 1994, she became the first woman to head a commercial station in the Los Angeles marketplace.

Miller named KTVT-TV news director: CBS-owned KTVT-TV, Dallas, announced that John Miller, a veteran of the Dallas market, will be the station’s news director. He succeeds Linda Levy, who will become the news director of Infinity-owned radio station KRLD-AM. Mr. Miller was news director at rival Belo-owned WFAA-TV until 2001. Mr. MiIler spent the last year teaching journalism at Texas Christian University.

WB Tuesday finales slay UPN’s ‘Buffy’: The WB saw its “New Tuesday” lineup of “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville” hit hyper-drive, delivering best-ever ratings in many of the Frog Network’s key young-adult demographics with their season finales. They also roundly beat UPN’s special 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) two-hour finale of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in most of the key demos.

Leading off the night at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., “Gilmore Girls” set series records in adults 18 to 34 (3.4 rating/11 share), persons 12 to 34 (3.8/13), women 18 to 34 (5.0/14) women 18 to 49 (2.8/8) and women 18 to 49 (4.0/11), according to Nielsen Media Research final national data. “Gilmore Girls” emerged as the top-rated program among the six networks for the night in women 12 to 34 (5.9/18) and female teens (8.2/31).

In the 9 p.m. hour, “Smallville” gave The WB the best performances among the broadcast networks in men 12 to 34 (4.1/12), teens (5.0/17), female teens (4.2/15) and male teens (5.8/19) — the last of which was an all-time best for the seven-year-old network. Additionally, the young Superman drama was ranked second in the time period in persons 12 to 34 (3.8/11) and third in men 18 to 34 (3.5/10).

Overall, the two-hour “Gilmore Girls”/”Smallville” rotation averaged 6.0 million total viewers and held a 13 percent advantage over UPN’s two-hour season finale of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which registered 5.3 million viewers. Most notably, The WB’s drama duo beat “Buffy” by a robust 130 percent margin in female teens (6.2/23 vs. 2.7/10), 48 percent in total teens (4.9/18 vs. 3.3/12), 20 percent in females 12 to 34 (4.7/13 vs. 3.9/11) and 15 percent in persons 12 to 34 (3.8/12 vs. 3.3/10).

ABC to premiere ‘Houston Medical’ in June: As part of its summer 2002 programming plans to offer a lineup of 40 percent original programming, ABC has announced a six-part “nonfiction” hospital series, “Houston Medical,” to premiere in the 10 p.m. Tuesday time slot starting June 18. ABC said the second episode will air in the same time slot on June 25, while subsequent airdates and time slots will be announced at a later date.

Shot in the digital TV format as a cinema verite documentary, “Houston Medical” follows the lives of patients, doctors and nurses as they interact in Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Memorial Hermann gave the production crew from series pro
ducer New Screen Concepts unobstructed access for more than a year to the critical care and level-one trauma centers of the hospital. Louis Gorfain is the writer and executive producer, and Charles Bangert is executive producer and director of the limited-run reality series.

In a further effort to inject the summer 2002 lineup with original programming, ABC is also launching the two-part reality miniseries “The Hamptons.”

CBS renews affiliations with WTVF-TV, KLAS-TV: CBS has signed new long-term affiliation agreements with Landmark Communications for WTVF-TV, Nashville, and KLAS-TV, Las Vegas. “It’s a real privilege to be partnered with Landmark Communications in these two important markets,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS. “CBS has a solid reputation with Landmark — one that’s rooted in mutual respect and shared objectives.”

NBC sitcoms win Tuesday, but Fox’s ’24’ holds onto second place: On a night when NBC had its season-ending episodes of “Frasier” and “Scrubs” typically holding the top of the adults 18 to 49 ratings from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), Fox’s winding down of the real-time clock on acclaimed “24” made a strong second-place accounting Tuesday.

The end of the Jack Bauer/Victor Drazen conflict, which had Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) mortally shooting the Serbian terrorist Drazen (Dennis Hopper), had “24” posting a second-ranked 4.6 rating/11 share average among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research preliminary fast national data.

The latest score for “24,” marking a 4 percent increase from last week’s average (4.4/11) in the 9 p.m. time slot, edged out the first hour (4.4/11) of ABC’s special 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. season closer for “NYPD Blue.” “24” held a 48 percent margin among adults 18 to 49 over the season-ending episode of CBS’s rival freshman drama “The Guardian” (3.1/7).

Helping out “24’s” cause was top-ranked 8 p.m and 8:30 p.m. double runs of “That ’70s Show” posting a top-ranked 4.9/14 for the full hour, holding a 26 percent advantage over NBC double-run repeats of “Frasier” (3.9/11).

With a cliff-hanger ending over the seemingly mortal shooting of Bauer’s estranged wife Terri, “24” grew 2 percent from the first to second half-hour frames (4.6/12 vs. 4.7/11) and picked up 7 percent more total viewers than its previous week’s outing (9.1 million vs. 8.5 million). “24” came in second to NBC’s “Frasier”/”Scrubs” combination in adults 18 to 34 (4.2/11 vs. 5.2/14) and adults 18 to 49 (5.9/14) for the full 9 p.m. hour.

“Frasier’s” season-ending episode won the 9 p.m.-to-9:30 p.m. frame in adults 18 to 49 (6.6/12) but was off 3 percent from its previous week’s outing (6.8/17) while the 9:30 p.m. closing of “Scrubs” (5.2/12) was similarly down 4 percent week to week.

The two-hour closing of “NYPD Blue’s” season registered a second-ranked 4.8/12 in adults 18 to 49 and 12.8 million total viewers — marking an 11 percent improvement over ABC’s 4.3/11 average in same two-hour frame the previous week.

For the night, NBC held a very narrow 2 percent winning advantage over Fox in adults 18 to 49 (4.9/13 vs. 4.8/13), followed by ABC (4.0/10) and CBS (3.3/9). CBS’s all-drama lineup — “JAG” (9.9/16), “The Guardian” (8.6/13) and “Judging Amy” (9.8/16) — won the night in households (9.4/15) and total viewers (13.4 million).

Cable ad spending down, Hispanic TV buys up in Q1: When it comes to advertising revenues in the first quarter, cable television was the surprising big loser, down 15.9 percent on a year-to-year basis, according to data compiled by Competitive Media Reporting.

Cable tallied $2.1 billion in ad revenues in the first quarter, compared with more than $2.4 billion in the first quarter of last year.

The big percentage gainer for the quarter was Spanish-language network TV, up 17.5 percent to more than $504 million, compared with just $415.8 million for the same quarter in 2001. Ad revenues for network TV were up 6.2 percent and for spot TV they were up 2.5 percent, totaling $5.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively.

Syndicated TV was down significantly, falling 14.4 percent to $709 million, according to CMR. Ad revenues for Internet, magazines and national newspapers all slipped, declining by 14.2 percent, 10.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

Total ad spending for all media was up slightly in the quarter, to $23.5 billion from $23.4 billion in the first quarter of 2001, according to CMR, a Taylor Nelson Sofres company.

Lincoln to sponsor Outdoor Life’s Tour de France coverage: Lincoln will be chief automotive sponsor for Outdoor Life Network’s coverage of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a EspaÒa, the races that together make up the cycling world’s triple crown.

The sponsorship’s “promotional value is north of seven figures,” Roger Williams, president & CEO of OLN, said through a spokesman.

OLN will broadcast two live commercial-free half-hours per week throughout each of the cycling competitions, totaling 9 hours of coverage, with three additional encore presentations per day, for a total of 36 hours, all of which will be sponsored by Lincoln.

The Tour de France airs July 6-28, the Vuelta a EspaÒa airs Sept. 7-29 and the Giro d’Italia is currently under way, continuing through June 2.

NBC, IBS strike job-posting deal with HotJobs.com: NBC and Internet Broadcasting Systems, which provides Web channels to TV stations in 50 cities, have struck a deal with Yahoo!’s HotJobs.com unit to display local job listings on the Web sites of seven NBC owned-and-operated stations, as well as on 37 other stations in the existing IBS network. Together, the O&Os and the other stations will give HotJobs a 50 percent national penetration for the locally customized job listings. In addition, NBC and the IBS TV stations will run co-branded television spots about the new job-hunting service.

The deal calls for HotJobs to pay NBC and IBS a fee for providing the cyber-venues for the service. A network spokeswoman was not able to specify the dollar amount that changed hands in the deal.

IBS Web channels are owned and operated in partnership with NBC, Hearst-Argyle Television, Post-Newsweek Stations, McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Group, Scripps and others. The participating NBC O&Os are in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications