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Aug 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, Aug. 29

Summerall signs with Football Network

The Football Network, a production entity that aims to evolve into a full-time cable network in fall 2003, has signed Pat Summerall to a multiyear contract under which he will play roles on camera and off. Mr. Summerall, who spent a decade in the NFL before becoming a broadcaster with CBS in 1961, will make appearances, provide expertise and voiceovers, host a half-hour program on TFN and perhaps produce or create another show. He will also contribute a column to the Web site footballnetwork.com.

President and CEO Jerry Solomon said TFN has given Mr. Summerall, whose 21-year booth pairing with John Madden ended with Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast in February, “a blank canvas” and “he can do with it what he wants” in developing a show.

The deal reunites Mr. Summerall with his longtime CBS Sports producer Rick Gentile, now senior VP for programming and production at TFN, which this summer signed five-year agreements with the Atlantic 10 Football Conference and the College Hall of Fame.

Local ad revenues rise: Local broadcast television’s ad revenues rose 4.4 percent in the second quarter of 2002 compared with the same period last year, according to an analysis of CMR data for the top 75 markets by Susan Cuccinello, senior VP of research for the Television Bureau of Advertising.

For the first half of the year, local broadcast is up 3.5 percent over last year, according to the TVB analysis.

Network television posted a 2.3 percent increase in the second quarter and syndicated television posted a 12.6 percent decline, according to the TVB.

For the first half of the year, network television was up 5.0 percent and syndication was down 12.6 percent, according to the TVB. That averages out to a total broadcast TV increase of 3.0 percent for the first half, according to the analysis.

Tollin/Robbins, Mike Rich sign ABC script deal: Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins’ Tollin/Robbins Productions and veteran screenwriter Mike Rich, who has penned such recent hit feature films as “The Rookie” and “Finding Forrester,” have entered into a blind script deal with ABC.

It marks the first major TV venture for Mr. Rich, a radio personality-turned-writer. Joe Davola, who heads Tollin/Robbins’ television operations, and Shelley Zimmerman, TRP’s VP of development, will be developing the unspecified ABC series project with Mr. Rich. TRP representatives could not be reached to confirm whether a specific script has been fleshed out and pitched for ABC’s 2003-04 development season.

Tollin/Robbins Productions produces “ARLI$$,” the longest-running original series on HBO. As a North Hollywood-based company with a pod production deal with Warner Bros. Television, TRP also co-produces The WB’s “Smallville,” “Birds of Prey,” “What I Like About You” and the midseason series “The Black Sash.”

Fatter Wednesday ‘Idol’ hits high notes: The expanded, hour-long Wednesday version of “American Idol” hit new summer ratings heights as the Fox hit narrowed to two finalists for next week’s (Sept. 4) finale. Airing from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), “Idol” posted personal-best scores in adults 18 to 49 (8.1 rating/22 share), total viewers (16.7 million) and households (9.6/16), according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data.

Fox researchers said “Idol’s” performance among adults 18 to 49 marked the network’s best performance in the demo for a Wednesday in 10 years, and in total viewers had its best numbers in almost 9 years. “Idol” also scored highs for the night in adults 18 to 34 (8.6/26) and women 25 to 54 (9.2/22).

“Idol’s” latest score in adults 18 to 49 marked a 4 percent increase (8.1/22 vs. 7.8/21) and a 10 percent jump in total viewers (16.7 million vs. 15.2 million) compared with its previous high-water marks from its Tuesday airing Aug. 20. The last night’s episode of “Idol” also beat the other Big 3 network’s combined 7.8 rating average among adults 18 to 49 for the 9 p.m. hour.