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Aug 6, 2002  •  Post A Comment

‘Monk’ gets split USA/ABC windows

ABC has acquired the broadcast rights to USA Network’s hit drama “Monk” and will run four episodes this summer following their original airing on the cable network.

The series, which is co-produced by ABC’s sister Touchstone Television studio and Mandeville Films, will have its broadcast network premiere from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, Aug. 13. ABC’s Tuesday broadcasts will follow four days after each episode’s original Friday telecast on USA Network. As part of the agreement, USA Network will not air any episode of “Monk” between its original Friday airing and ABC’s rebroadcast the following Tuesday.

In the deal, announced by ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne and USA Network President Doug Herzog, ABC said it will get an original, scripted series at a “significantly reduced licensing fee,” while providing additional exposure for the critically received USA series.

“In a summer of reruns and reality programming, we will be broadcasting original episodes of a quality drama at very low cost to our network, and exposing the show to the ultimate focus group … our audience,” ABC’s Ms. Lyne said in a statement. “This is an interesting programming development experiment, and there’s no better time of year to try something different.”

USA Network’s two-hour debut of “Monk” on July 12 ranked among the top 10 programs on all of basic cable for the week. “Monk’s” Aug. 2 telecast drew its largest audience to date at 4.91 million total viewers.

“Monk” is co-executive produced by David Stern (“The Simpsons”) while series star Tony Shalhoub and Fern Field are producers on behalf of Touchstone and Mandeville Films.

Lakers announcer Chick Hearn dies: Chick Hearn, the play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Lakers since their move from Minneapolis to Southern California in 1960, died late Monday due to complications from brain injuries. He was 85.

Mr. Hearn’s fatal head injuries resulted from a fall at his home in Encino, Calif., which led doctors at Northridge Medical Center to perform a pair of craniotomy surgery procedures to relieve internal bleeding last weekend. He never regained consciousness and it was later discovered by doctors that Mr. Hearn had suffered severe brain stem damage.

The passing of Mr. Hearn brought to a close the legendary 42-year career of the Lakers broadcaster, who was widely cited for his “words-eye-view” of basketball and was credited with coining such widely used terms as “slam dunk,” “airball,” “finger roll” and “no harm, no foul.” His most famous trademark phrase came to punctuate a Lakers victory: “You can put this one in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling.”

Mr. Hearn, heard on the radio on KFT-AM and on television with KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and Fox Sports West on cable, set a National Basketball Association record by calling 3,338 consecutive Lakers games, a streak that was broken when he required heart surgery on Dec. 16, 2001. During his recuperation he broke his hip during a trip to a gas station, but he still found his way back to the booth on April 9, 2002. He called the remaining games of the season and the playoffs, concluding with the Lakers winning their third consecutive NBA championship (their ninth overall in Los Angeles) last June.

Born with the given name Francis Dayle Hearn on Nov. 11, 1916, in Aurora, Ill., he earned his nickname Chick in 1931 after buying a pair of sneakers only to find a live chicken come out of the box. Prior to becoming a basketball legend, Mr. Hearn got his start in broadcasting by announcing a weekly ABC auto racing show from Chicago in 1952. He later made a move to Los Angeles in 1956, calling University of Southern California football and basketball telecasts. He was hired as the Lakers’ play-by-play man in 1960 and was teamed with his most recent color commentator, Stu Lantz, in 1987.

Mr. Hearn is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marge; a granddaughter, Shannon Newman; her husband, Louis; and a great-granddaughter, Kayli. Mr. Hearn and his wife had to deal with the heartbreak of losing both of their children. Gary, their first-born son, died of a drug overdose at age 29 in 1972 and daughter Samantha died at 43 in 1990 from viral pneumonia brought on by anorexia. Funeral arrangements for Mr. Hearn are pending.

Miller named America Online chairman and CEO: As expected, Jonathan Miller today was appointed chairman and CEO of AOL Time Warner’s America Online division. Mr. Miller will oversee all of America Online’s businesses and report to Don Logan, chairman of AOL Time Warner’s Media & Communications Group.

Mr. Miller was president and chief executive of information and services at USA for two years before resigning to become president and chief executive of new portfolio company, Boston-based General Catalyst Partners. Before joining USA in 1997, Mr. Miller was managing director of Nickelodeon International. He also served as VP of programming for NBA Entertainment and director of programming at public television’s WGBH-TV in Boston.

Madden locks horns with NBC’s reality series: ABC, despite getting off to a good start in John Madden’s first preseason teaming with Al Michaels on “Monday Night Football,” found NBC’s pugnacious all-reality lineup taking home top honors last night in adults 18 to 49 ratings and total viewers.

ABC Sports preseason coverage of the “AFC Hall of Fame Game,” in which the New York Giants faced the newly launched Houston Texans football franchise, registered second-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (4.2 rating/13 share) and total viewers (10.5 million), according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. Mr. Madden’s debut bow pushed “MNF” to 20 percent and 17 percent increases vs. the year-ago “Hall of Fame Game’s” averages in adults 18 to 49 (3.5/11) and total viewers (9.0 million) on Aug. 6, 2001.

But it was NBC’s highly visible reality troika — a repeat of “Fear Factor” (4.1/13), “Dog Eat Dog” (5.8/16) and “Meet My Folks” (4.3/15) — that outpaced “Monday Night Football” in the adults 18 to 49 demo for each hour of the 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) prime-time rotation. Overall, NBC’s 5.1/15 average for the night among adults 18 to 49 beat ABC’s “MNF” game (4.2/13) by a 21 percent margin. NBC’s highly rated but critically panned reality series also won the night in total viewers (10.8 million), holding a 2 percent edge over ABC (10.6 million).

Meanwhile, CBS’s all-repeat lineup of 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. comedies — “King of Queens” (5.7/11), “Yes, Dear” (5.7/10), “Everybody Loves Raymond” (8.3/14) and “Becker” (7.5/12) — teamed with newsmag “48 Hours” (7.8/13) to help the Eye Network win the night in households (7.1/12). “Monday Night Football” had ABC second in households (7.0/12), followed by NBC (6.5/11) and Fox (2.6/4).

Fox, burning off a repeat of “Boston Public” (1.4/5) and two original episodes of the cancelled sitcom “Titus” for the 9 p.m. hour (1.6/4), finished a distant fourth for the night in adults 18 to 49 (1.5/4).

Gurin Co. buys U.S. rights to ‘Defectors’: The Gurin Co., producers of the U.S. version of the hit NBC series “Weakest Link,” has secured the rights to “Defectors,” another British game show with an audience participation component. “Defectors” are audience members who take part in a format that allows them to participate actively in the outcome of the game. The defectors lock in votes to choose which contestant they think will answer the next several questions correctly.

After each of the first two rounds, the lowest-scoring contestant is eliminated. But in the final round, all bets are off. The top two contestants remain, the point total is reset to zero and the defectors can defect after each question, which is derived from current news and pop culture topics.

“Defectors” was created by U.K.-based Mast Media and currently airs in England and Europe on Challenge TV. Phil Gurin, president and owner of the Los Angeles-based production company, said he plans to soon begin pitching the game show to the U.S. broadcast and cable networks, in addition to do
mestic syndicators. Mr. Gurin said his company could have “Defectors” ready for a launch on a cable network as early as next season, but if it went the domestic syndication route it would most likely launch in fall 2003.

NBC casting ‘Three’s Company’ movie: NBC announced an open casting call in Los Angeles for the “Three’s Company Revisited” telefilm, set for broadcast next season. The producers of the movie-Stanley M. Brooks and Scott Anderson-will be holding an open casting search Tuesday, Aug. 13 (10 a.m. to noon, PT), at Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica, Calif.

The movie will feature what NBC says is “an unflinching glimpse behind the scenes of the troubled and turbulent, sexy 1970s series,” which will be “mirroring” the original casting for the classic comedy series. The producers are looking for three young, aspiring, look-alike actors to portray Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter and Suzanne Somers, who starred as the characters of Janet Wood, Jack Tripper and Chrissy Snow in the hit ABC comedy.

Sohmer heads to ABC: ABC has hired Steve Sohmer, a veteran marketing executive at CBS and NBC, to serve as executive VP of marketing, advertising and promotion for the Disney-owned broadcast network. Mr. Sohmer, who was president of marketing for Paxson Communications, fills a post vacated earlier this year by Allen Cohen. In his new capacity, Dr. Sohmer will direct the advertising, on-air promotion, marketing, branding, graphic design and media for ABC’s prime-time and late-night programming, working closely with Mike Benson, senior VP of marketing, advertising and promotion.

‘Dog’ takes bite out of summer: After embarking on its first, highly-rated summer TV campaign, NBC’s reality/competition series “Dog Eat Dog” has been renewed for 13 episodes to air at midseason next year.

While hinting at last month’s Television Critics Association press tour that “Dog” could return for a midseason run, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker suggested the mental/physical stunts game show has “delivered a loyal audience and has outperformed the competition,” he noted in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to see it become one of the breakout hits this summer and look forward to another run later this season.”

NBC researchers claim “Dog Eat Dog” is the top-rated new program this summer in total viewers (10.7 million) and NBC’s highest-rated show this summer among adults 18 to 49 (ranking third overall). However, the ongoing growth of Fox’s “American Idol” talent search has surpassed “Dog” in the adults18 to 49 and 18 to 34 ratings in recent weeks.

Hosted by Brooke Burns (“Baywatch”), “Dog Eat Dog” is a reality game show in which six contestants first spend a day undergoing various tests of intellect and brawn to judge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They then gather the next day on the elaborate stage to see if the “top dog” will walk away with $25,000 or if the other five players will split that amount among themselves.

“Dog Eat Dog” is a production of NBC Studios in association with BBC-Worldwide. Matt Kunitz (“Fear Factor”) and Stuart Krasnow (“Weakest Link”) are the executive producers.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications