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Aug 27, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 27

Phung to oversee comedy development at Fox

Quan Phung, a three-year comedy development executive at Fox Broadcasting Co., has been promoted to VP of comedy development at the network. Reporting to Tracy Katsky, Fox’s senior VP of comedy development, Mr. Phung will oversee the development of new comedy series for the network, in addition to acting as a liaison with the creative community.

Mr. Phung has served as Fox’s director of comedy development since 1999. Before joining Fox, he was director of Saturday morning and prime-time series at NBC.

Thompson confirmed as ‘Law & Order’ cast member: Fred Thompson, former prosecutor and senator from Tennessee, has signed to serve as the top-dog district attorney on NBC’s “Law & Order.” Settling more than a week of published reports, series producers Wolf Films and Universal Network Television, in addition to NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, formally confirmed Mr. Thompson, 60, will replace Dianne Wiest, who played interim DA Nora Lewin.

“I am thrilled that Fred Thompson has agreed to join the cast of ‘Law & Order’ as the district attorney of New York,” said “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf, from a prepared statement. “I have enjoyed his work in numerous films and know that he will create a compelling and believable character who will be able to transit effortlessly between all three ‘Law & Order’ series.”

Of the change in leadership in the DA’s Office, “Law & Order” Executive Producer Michael Chernuchin added: “The election of the new district attorney is definitely a reaction to 9/11. His political leanings are a little more to the right than former DAs on the show. He is a ‘strict constructionist.’ That is, for him, the Constitution is what it says it is and nothing more.”

Tennis Channel lands Wilson ad deal: The Tennis Channel, which plans to launch by the end of the year, has set its first original series, “No Strings,” a look at the lifestyles of professional tennis players off the court. The network also announced a charter advertising deal with Wilson Racquet Sports, a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods.

Financial terms of the multiyear advertising deal were not disclosed, but a TTC statement called it a “significant financial commitment by Wilson.” As part of the deal, shows will be developed to take viewers behind the scenes as new Wilson equipment is developed. Wilson and its distribution infrastructure will provide tactical marketing support for TTC.

The first episode of “No Strings” will be a profile of Pete Sampras, the sport’s all-time leading money winner and one of the channel’s investors. Subsequent episodes include “Lindsay Davenport: No Strings,” focusing on the three-time Grand Slam winner, and “Andy Roddick: No Strings,” about the rising American tennis star.

Kiel to head media relations for NBC: NBC has a new spokesperson and communications chief: Patricia Kiel, who spent the past seven years as head of communications for Sony Music Entertainment. She will take up the duties of executive VP of corporate communications and media relations in mid-September and will report to Bob Wright, NBC chairman and CEO and vice chairman of GE.

She will manage all media relations departments, from entertainment to Telemundo and CNBC. She also will manage internal communications, philanthropic activities and public affairs initiatives. She fills the position left vacant last spring with the exit of Kassie Canter.

‘Idol’ makes Fox ratings leader in demos: “American Idol” powered Fox to wins in the adults 18 to 49, adults 18 to 34 and teen demos for the week ending Aug. 25.

In the key adults 18 to 49 demo, Fox edged out NBC by a 3 percent margin (3.1 rating/10 share vs. 3.0/9) for the week in prime time to break NBC’s four-week string of summer wins, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. Additionally, Fox won its 10th consecutive week in adults 18 to 49, with its 3.4/12 average holding a more commanding 42 percent margin of victory over NBC’s second-ranked 2.4/8 score.

Last week, “American Idol’s” 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) Tuesday and 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) Wednesday telecasts held the top rankings for the first time in both adults 18 to 49 (7.9/22, 7.1/19) and total viewers (15.2 million, 14.1 million), respectively.

For the 13-week summer-to-date race, Fox is the only broadcast network to exhibit dramatic year-to-year growth. Among its core adults 18 to 34 demo, Fox (2.8/10) is up 12 percent over its year-ago prime-time averages, while its adults 18 to 49 score (2.6/9) is up 4 percent. Fox is also up 6 percent in total viewers (5.9 million) year to year.

Meanwhile, NBC is down 9 percent in adults 18 to 49 (3.1/10) and flat in total viewers (8.1 million) during the summer-to-date period. CBS is up 2 percent in total viewers (8.2 million) compared with last summer, while holding even in the adults 18 to 49 (2.4/8) and adults 18 to 34 (1.7/6) demographics. ABC is down 15 percent in adults 18 to 49 (2.2/7), 18 percent in adults 18 to 34 (1.8/6) and 23 percent in total viewers (6.0 million) for the summer.

‘That ’70s Show’ cast joins KISS in music video: VH1 will KISS the ’70s when the cable network airs the world premiere of a new music video starring the cast of comedy series “That ’70s Show” and legendary rock band KISS, as an off-net syndication launch campaign Friday August 30. The program celebrates the Sept. 16 syndication launch of “That ’70s Show” and takes viewers behind the scenes of a KISS concert re-creation. It also features never-before-seen footage and interviews with KISS and “That ’70s Show” cast members.

WTVJ, Dolphins developing ‘FINS-TV’: NBC-owned WTVJ-TV and the Miami Dolphins are creating a year-round football show that will offer a half-hour behind-the-scenes original look at the team and its community-related activities. The show, which will be produced by WTVJ and anchored by WTVJ sports anchor and ex-Dolphin Joe Rose, will be called “FINS-TV.”

It debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31. During the NFL season, it will be followed by “The Dave Wannstedt Show.”

It is one of the more significant outcomes of a three-year extension of a programming agreement between the team and the station. A Hispanic version of the show is scheduled to launch in early 2003 on WSCV-TV, the Telemundo station operated as a duopoly with WTVJ. Until then segments of “FINS-TV” will appear in Sunday sportscasts on Telemundo.

WE sets two ‘Girl’ episodes: WE: Women’s Entertainment has set two new episodes of its “When I Was a Girl” reality series, produced by journalist Linda Ellerbee’s Lucky Duck Productions.

The episodes, debuting on Sept. 22 and 29, continue to look at the early lives of famous women. Profiled on Sept. 22 will be Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Kelly Preston (“Jerry Maguire”), Ann Curry (“The Today Show”) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”). Profiled on Sept. 29 will be Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”), author Sue Grafton, Alex Kingston (“ER”), Illeana Douglas (“Ghost World”) and Rita Moreno (“Oz”). The series is narrated by Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”).