Briefly Noted

Jun 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Upfront: all in the game
The annual upfront market is, of course, a high-stakes game where (almost) anything goes, so it’s only fitting that it has become a computer game, too, courtesy of G4, Comcast’s new network for gamers. The arcade-style game lets players take shots at cartoon advertising people who pop up on screen, delivering such oft-heard and ostensibly heartfelt lines as “It’s a win-win,” “No one else delivers this demo” and, “We’d like to talk to you about out-of-the-box ideas.” Players’ weapons include cellphones, staplers and bagels. Naturally, there’s plenty of promotion for G4 in the background. Upfront the game is available anywhere in midtown Manhattan where fine distilled spirits are sold; “Upfront” the computer game is available at Q4tv.com/adgame.
Bronfman raises profile at Vivendi Universal
Edgar Bronfman Jr. will play a higher-profile role as co-chairman of Vivendi Universal’s new corporate governance committee as he strives to improve the beleaguered company’s standing with investors and other constituents. The Bronfman family, which lost billions during the company’s recent stock plummet, re-enters the fray at a time when Chairman Jean-Marie Messier has been put on notice by his board of directors and will be more closely monitored by Mr. Bronfman. Although the Bronfmans are prohibited from being involved in a takeover of Vivendi, as part of their original sale of Seagram and Universal to the French firm, there is speculation that Mr. Bronfman, deputy managing director and vice chairman, and Barry Diller, chairman of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, will play a heightened role at the company.
`Osbournes’ gets 20-episode renewal
MTV has made it official: “The Osbournes” is returning for a second season, this one with 20 new episodes. The negotiations leading up to the deal were by several accounts just as idiosyncratic as the Osbournes themselves. Deal points included a demand that the Osbournes’ pets receive free therapy and an offer from the Osbournes to sign the contract in actual blood, according to a report in The New York Times. The second-season deal will be worth anywhere from $20 million down to $5 million to the family. Accounts varied, depending on whether the source cited was close to the family or to the network. Additionally, the Osbournes themselves won ownership of the negatives of the show, including the 10-episode first season, and now will license multiple runs of each episode to MTV (up to 60 runs each, according to one report), while retaining all syndication and other ancillary rights.
Anna Nicole Smith a reality for E!
Anna Nicole Smith will be getting the “Osbournes” treatment with her own reality series, featuring her family and friends, to debut on E! Entertainment Network in August. Ms. Smith is the former Playboy Playmate and Guess jeans model who recently was awarded $89 million after a lengthy legal battle with the son of her late husband, a multimillionaire octogenarian whom she married when she was 23 and he was 86. The show will be a “look at the life and spectacle of this modern-day Marilyn Monroe and her unique circle of family and friends, including her 16-year-old son Daniel, her buttoned-down attorney Howard and her purple-haired assistant Kim,” according to an E! statement. The series has been in development at E! since before the hit MTV series debuted, according to an E! spokeswoman. The network has committed to six episodes.
Jewett, Nachman on board for Walsh show
Former “Donahue” producer Alexandra Jewett has been named executive producer, and veteran news figure Jerry Nachman has been named executive consultant for NBC Enterprises’ upcoming first-run talk program “The John Walsh Show.”
Promax sets Dr. Phil, Walsh
Dr. Phil and John Walsh, who will host rival talk shows starting this fall, are scheduled to appear at the Promax & BDA gathering in late June. Dr. Phillip C. McGraw, better known as “Dr. Phil” from his Tuesday appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” will address the general audience during the “Groundbreakers” series at the annual confab. Mr. Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back,” will moderate a panel that looks at changes in the promotion and marketing profession in the wake of Sept. 11.
From cracklin’ Rosie to sweet Caroline
Singer Neil Diamond stopped by to help Rosie O’Donnell pass the baton to Caroline Rhea and tape a promo for the latter’s highly anticipated new talk show coming this fall. The promo, which started Monday and will run through the summer on affiliates that will carry “The Caroline Rhea Show,” features Mr. Diamond singing two of his signature hits, “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Sweet Caroline.”