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Jul 30, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, July 30

WE staffs up new in-house production unit

WE: Women’s Entertainment, a part of the AMC Networks group, is creating its own in-house production unit that will be responsible for producing “Cinematherapy,” the network’s stripped series and various original specials and stunts.

The unit will consist of Kathie Farrell, director of studio operations, formerly a staff producer at NBC Sports; Ilene Richardson, director of production, who formerly headed her own production company; and Staci Sarkin, manager of production, formerly a coordinating producer at Oxygen Media and a production/unit manager at VH1 and MTV. The unit also will have an editor/producer and a writer/researcher. The unit will report to Jeff Eisenberg, VP of production at WE.

NBC continues reality streak: NBC broke Fox’s three-week string of prime-time wins in adults 18 to 49 when the July 22 premiere of the summer reality series “Meet My Folks” tied Fox’s “American Idol” as the top-ranked series in the key demographic.

Bolstered by the addition of “Big Brother 3” to its summer rotation, CBS won its sixth consecutive week in total viewers and household ratings.

In winning the week of July 22 to 28 in adults 18 to 49, NBC (2.9 rating/9 share) placed four series among the top 10 in demographics-including three reality series-according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. NBC’s “Meet My Folks” broke out a top-ranked 5.5/16 among adults 18 to 49, holding even with Fox’s live Tuesday edition of “American Idol” (5.5/16).

CBS was the only network to improve (by 4 percent) on year-to-year basis last week. Another encouraging sign for CBS was the ongoing repeatability of its scripted series among all viewers. “CSI” (14.1 million), “Everybody Loves Raymond” (13.2 million), “Becker” (11.4 million), “48 Hours” (10.7 million) and Wednesday’s “Big Brother 3” (10.2 million) held three of the top five and five of the top 10 rankings in total viewers. CBS held the top ranks in total viewers (7.9 million) and households (5.5/10) for the week.

Banfield’s journey: Ashleigh Banfield will spend the month leading up to Sept. 11 on the road in the United States for her prime-time MSNBC show, “Ashleigh Banfield: On Location.” The 17-city odyssey will start Monday, Aug. 12, in Seattle and will wrap up in Washington (Sept. 9) and New York City (Sept. 10 and 11).

Sherman promoted at ABC: Thom Sherman, a six-year-plus drama development executive at ABC, has been promoted to senior VP of drama programming for ABC Entertainment. Mr. Sherman will continue to oversee all network drama development and drama series for ABC’s prime-time lineup. Most recently, he developed the upcoming dramas “That Was Then,” “Push, Nevada” and “MDs” for ABC’s fall 2002 lineup, in addition to “Miracles,” “Dragnet” and “Veritas” for midseason. Since June 1999, Mr. Sherman held the post of VP, drama programming, for ABC Entertainment.

ABC golf event stumbles: Despite the allure of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, ABC’s made-for-television “The Lincoln Financial Group Battle at Bighorn” prime-time golf event on Monday night dropped one-third of its adults 18 to 49 rating compared with last year’s telecast. For the 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) portion of the “Bighorn” telecast, measured in Nielsen Media Research’s preliminary fast national data, the match-play event gave ABC third-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (1.9 rating/6 share), households (5.0/9) and total viewers (7.3 million).

The initial fast national scores from Nielsen, which often deviate by several percentage points compared with final national ratings, had “Bighorn” tracking a 32 percent decline among adults 18 to 49 vs. the 2001 event (2.8/9), which is held annually in Palm Desert, Calif. Somewhat less drastic declines of 18 percent and 15 percent are being tracked in households (6.1/11) and total viewers (9.6 million) from the previous year’s event.

The “Bighorn” event, won by Mr. Woods and Mr. Nicklaus over the opposing team of Lee Trevino and Sergio Garcia, peaked at a 5.5/9 household average and 7.8 million total viewers at 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., improving 22 percent in households from the opening 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. frame (4.5/9).

ABC awards talent grants: ABC announced the 16 recipients of its 2002 ABC New Talent Development Scholarship-Grant Program, which is designed to discover and foster diverse writing, filmmaking and directing talent. The program distributes scholarships and grants to aid in financing and promoting creative efforts.

This year’s scholarship-grant honorees and their projects are Nora Chau (New York) for “To Chow Yun Fat with Love”; Gabriel Cordell (Los Angeles) for “Carolina”; Luisa Dantas (Washington) for “Bitter Sugar”; Juan Devis (Chicago) for “Welcome to Tijuana”; Sean Lee Fahrlander (Ojibwe Nation, Wisconsin) for “Walk the Bear”; Diane Fraher (New York) for “The Reawakening”; Starr Harris (Raleigh, N.C.) for “Grown Up Already”; Rhonda Haynes (New York) for “Bringin’ in da Spirit”; Marsha Jackson-Randolph (Houston) for “You Send Me: The Sam Cooke Story”; Kevin Kamin (Minneapolis) for “Shawn Ship Shape”; Alexandra Martinez (Houston) for “Sunset Park”; Alaina Niemann (Raleigh, N.C.) for “Corpulent Power”; Anna Peralta (Los Angeles) for “Vet in the City”; Jean Trela (Chicago) for “Baby Central”; Vivian Umino (Washington) for “The Master Painter”; and Aaron Woolfolk (Los Angeles) for “Harimaya-bashi (The Harimaya Bridge).”

Each of this year’s scholarship-grant recipients will receive $20,000 for the completion of their creative project, and each sponsor organization will receive $10,000 toward the continued support of the arts in their respective communities.

Administered by Carmen Smith, VP of ABC Talent Development Programs, the grant and scholarship awards assist high school and college students and members of nonprofit institutions by providing support for the development of new creative ideas or the completion of existing creative projects. Recipients are also paired with a mentor during the 12-month grant period, with the program culminating in a three-day series of workshops, including pitch meetings, at ABC Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif.

The 10 graduates of the 2001 Scholarship-Grant Program recently submitted their completed work and will learn the art of pitching this month during a seminar conducted by producers at Walt Disney Imagineering. In early August, the graduates will pitch their projects to creative executives from ABC Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films.

Erik Arneson new PR director at Speed Channel: Erik Arneson has been named director of public relations for Fox Cable-owned Speed Channel. For the last two years, Mr. Arneson has been the Speed Channel account manager at its public relations agency, CMI/Cotter. He covered motor sports for USA Today for nine years. He will report to Bill Osborn, the channel’s vice president of marketing.#