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Aug 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Country-music idol search

With “American Idol” riding high in the ratings, USA Network’s “Nashville Star,” the new series that will launch a nationwide grass roots search for the next great country music singer/songwriter, seemed all but inevitable. The contestants’ personal lives and stories of their inspiration behind the music will be themes throughout the series, and the grand-prize winner will receive a recording contract from Universal Music Group. “Nashville Star,” a limited-run series, is scheduled to premiere in the first or second quarter of 2003.

Safon to VP with CNN News Group: After 11 years on the TNT advertising and marketing team, Scott Safon has switched to CNN as senior VP of marketing for the CNN News Group. The Atlanta-based executive will report to News Group President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Walton and will be responsible for the marketing and promotion of the 34 CNN News Group networks and services.

Jason Priestley in serious condition after race crash: Actor Jason Priestley, best known for his long-running role on “Beverly Hills 90210,” is in serious condition after a 180 mph car crash during a practice lap Sunday at the Kentucky Speedway. Mr. Priestley suffered a concussion, a broken back and a broken nose and feet in the one-car crash, apparently losing control on an oil-slick patch of track.

The actor, who also has become a professional race car driver, was to compete in an Infiniti Pro Series race. He is listed in serious but stable condition. Mr. Priestley apparently did not suffer any paralysis and is expected to recover from his injuries, according to his doctor at Kentucky Medical Center.

Adlink reaches milestone in L.A.: The 44 Los Angeles-area cable networks repped by the Adlink interconnect now represent half of all the TV viewing in the L.A. DMA, according to Adlink’s summary of Nielsen data. Both the cable networks and L.A.’s broadcast stations had a 43 percent share in July on a total-day basis.

The Adlink data, comparing this past July to the same month last year, points to a 6 share point gain for L.A. cable in early fringe, a 3 share point gain in prime time and a 4 share point gain in total day in the market. Summer, of course, is traditionally rerun season for broadcast and therefore is also the season that cable has customarily made its best showing vs. broadcast stations and networks. This year, strong original basic cable programming premieres and performances, including USA’s “Monk,” E!’s “The Anna Nicole Show” and MTV’s “The Osbournes,” have powered cable’s gains.

Piper Dosti new drama senior VP at UPN: Sonja Piper Dosti, a veteran studio and network drama development executive, has been named senior VP of drama development at UPN. Ms. Dosti, who will take her post Aug. 19 and report to UPN Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff, will oversee the development of all drama programming for the network.

Ms. Dosti most recently served as senior VP of drama programming for Studios USA Television since July 2001. (Studios USA Television recently underwent a banner change to Universal Television when Barry Diller reintegrated the assets of USA Inc. under the Vivendi Universal Entertainment umbrella last spring.)

Straus promoted to business affairs VP: Lee Straus, a veteran business affairs executive and attorney at NBC, has been promoted to VP of business affairs at NBC Studios. Mr. Strauss moves up from director of business affairs at NBC Studios.

Originally joining NBC Studios in January 2000, Mr. Straus worked closely with NBC Enterprises and NBC Studios, both in development and current phases of such series as “The Other Half,” “The John Walsh Show” and “Weakest Link.” He also worked to firm up deals on prime-time series, such as NBC’s hit reality series “Dog Eat Dog,” this year’s midseason sitcom “Watching Ellie” and the upcoming fall 2002 drama “American Dreams.”

Chicago taking live requests on A&E: Pop rock band Chicago with take viewer song requests live on “A&E’s Live By Request Starring Chicago,” a two-hour special to be telecast Sept. 5 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET). During the performance, Chicago will take song requests via an 800 telephone number, and fans logging on to www.livebyrequest.com will be able to join the concert webcast, e-mail song requests, post messages and have access to on-demand text, including discographies, biographical information and lyrics to songs.

Reeve special to air on ABC: ABC will broadcast “Christopher Reeve: Courageous Steps,” an ABC special featuring never-before-seen footage chronicling the paralyzed actor’s battle to walk again, Sept 18 at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET). The special will be narrated by Mr. Reeve and directed by his son, Matthew Reeve.