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Jul 17, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Wednesday, July 17

ABC sets ‘Bachelorette’

“The Bachelor” is getting a new companion: “The Bachelorette,” a planned January 2003 companion relationship/reality series announced by ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne at Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., today.

Apparently looking to clone “The Bachelor’s” ratings success last spring, “The Bachelorette,” from Telepictures Productions and Next Entertainment, will feature Trista Renn, a 29-year-old pediatric physical therapist from Miami, who will be courted by 25 bachelors. Ms. Renn was one of 25 women who ended up a semifinalist on “Bachelor” last spring.

By continuing to stress that ABC is looking to break out of two years of ratings doldrums, ABC Television Entertainment Group Chairman Lloyd Braun said the network is going to make a “52-week-a-year” business of developing and launching new series throughout next season.

On that front, he and Ms. Lyne announced that the blue-collar sitcom “Regular Joe” starring Daniel Stern has been confirmed for a midseason 2003 run. That is joining another comedy, “Lost at Home,” and dramas “Veritas” and “Miracles” in getting firm midseason orders.

Alternative series will also figure in the midseason mix, with the addition of “Letters from a Nut,” which will feature voice-over introductions by Jerry Seinfeld.

Additionally, Ms. Lyne said the Craig Zadan-Neil Meron team is on pace with “Meredith Wilson’s ‘Music Man'” (starring Matthew Broderick) and Kelsey Grammer’s “St. Nick” holiday telefilm and “Prince William” for next season.

ABC also unveiled a new on-air logo design for all of its program promotional spots. Its yellow-only background design has been augmented with other colors to express the 2002-03 season’s “innovative style and vibrant, diverse color palette.”

Fox graded best in diversity: A multiethnic coalition gave Fox the highest grade of the Big 4 networks for its diversity initiatives, while CBS received the lowest grade. However, the coalition-made up of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the National Latino Media Council and American Indians in Film and Television-said there was a lack of significant improvement by all four networks when it came to increasing diversity on network television.

CBS received a combined grade from the three coalition members of D-, down from a D+ last year; NBC received a D+, down from last year’s C; ABC got a C-, up from a D- last year; and Fox had a C, up from a C- last year. The coalition’s report card did not include African American talent.

NBC was hit by the coalition for having increased acting parts for Asian Americans, Latinos and Native Americans by only two roles since the 1999-2000 season and for offering no directing opportunities. In a statement, NBC said the network will start the new season with a 29 percent increase in minority representation compared with last season and that it has increased diversity among writers and producers by 57 percent since last season.

The coalition saved its harshest words for CBS, with Karen Narasaki, chair of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, saying, “Network President Les Moonves was never that interested in significantly increasing opportunities for Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Now he appears to have lost interest altogether.” She also said the number of African American writers and producers fell by one third.

CBS took exception to the coalition’s report card and said in a statement that CBS has increased its minority representation in key roles on all prime-time programs by 33 percent since the start of the 2001-02 season and pointed out that three of the four people heading CBS Entertainment development departments are minorities.

Stabenow uncertain about drug ad measure: In a bit of a retreat, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told reporters today that she is undecided as to whether to attempt to amend pending prescription medicine legislation with a measure to discourage drug advertising.

A top aide told Electronic Media late last week that the lawmaker would offer the amendment. But at a press conference this morning, Sen. Stabenow said concerns had been raised that industry allies in the House could kill underlying prescription drug reform legislation on procedural grounds if the amendment were attached. “We’re still determining whether we’ll bring the advertising bill up at this point,” she said.

Nonetheless, at a meeting Tuesday with advertising and media industry trade association executives, sources said Sen. Stabenow made clear that she would bring up her amendment on the Senate floor, at the very least to publicize it and debate the issues. But the sources said she wasn’t sure whether she would drive it to a vote.

“Whether it gets voted may rely on her assessment of the vote count,” said Dan Jaffe, executive VP of the Association of National Advertisers, who attended the lobbying session with the senator. One possible route for the lawmaker, according to her spokesman, would be to bring up the measure to trigger a debate and then withdraw it before a vote.

ANA’s Mr. Jaffe said that even if the amendment isn’t brought to a vote now, the issue is unlikely to go away any time soon. “She’s concerned about the procedural way it’s coming up, not with the issue,” Mr. Jaffe said. “It’s just a question where she thinks is the best way to do it.”

Sen. Stabenow made her comments at a press conference held to promote a study contending that pharmaceutical companies spent almost two and a half times as much on marketing, advertising and administration as they did on research and development last year. Under Sen. Stabenow’s measure, pharmaceutical companies would be barred from deducting advertising and marketing costs that exceed their annual outlays for research and development.

Braun touts ABC’s repurposing strategy: The new mantra at ABC is “repurposing with a purpose,” coined by ABC Television Entertainment Group Chairman Lloyd Braun. He said that ‘Push, Nevada,” an hour-long, hybrid mystery/treasure hunt set to debut on ABC next fall, will be offered in a secondary cable window with original programming content — in a likely repurposed run on ABC Family Channel next season.

Coming out of ABC’s portion of the Television Critics Association press tour today in Pasadena, Calif., Mr. Braun said a deal has yet to be hashed out on a secondary window with ABC Family for “Push, Nevada,” but he did say the Disney-owned cable network is the likeliest destination — as is the case with other ABC broadcast series “in consideration.”

In particular, Mr. Braun and Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment, noted that a number of high-profile dramas, such as ABC’s “Once and Again” and Fox’s “24,” did not hold up in repeats in secondary runs on the cable networks. Adding new programming elements and interactive content to a repurposed run of “Push, Nevada,” they said, could bring in new viewers and larger promotional circulation for both airings.

“We are now internally going by the saying of ‘repurposing with a purpose,'” Mr. Braun said. “It is just hard to repeat dramas these days. But we’re looking at new ways to do repeats differently and ‘Push, Nevada’ is that show.”

Ms. Lyne hinted that two major advertisers, which she declined to identify, had signed up for sponsorship positions, including some form of product placement in “Push, Nevada.”

“We’re looking at a new economic model, and it might not depend entirely on repeatability,” Ms. Lyne said.

“We are really looking at some interesting things with ‘Push, Nevada,’ but I don’t think that viewers want to be hit over the head with lots of product placement,” Mr. Braun added. “[Viewers] want to be entertained. I do think [product placement] is absolutely going to play a role when it comes to developing new revenue streams” in the future.

Most notably, Mr. Braun said that new content, specifically “new hints” and other added program elements, would be edited into a repurposed run of “Push, Nevada,” which comes from creator-producers Ben Affleck and Sean Bailey. He additionally noted that other interactive
and Internet components through Disney’s Go.com Web sites will support the ABC broadcast and cable airings of the show.

“There is going to be a lot of ways to play the game, but [viewers] will only win by watching on ABC — that’s the key,” Mr. Braun said.

News Emmy nominations postponed: Rather than compete with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ announcement of the prime-time Emmy nominations Thursday in Los Angeles, the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has pushed its announcement of news and documentary Emmy nominees from Thursday to Monday.#