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Briefly Noted

Aug 5, 2002  •  Post A Comment

DeGeneres, Baldwin fit to be squared
“Hollywood’s” hunt is over, as King World Productions officially announced that Ellen DeGeneres and Alec Baldwin would serve as two of the game show’s rotating center squares for the season. Distributor King World announced that Ms. DeGeneres will be the first of several high-profile celebrities to occupy the center square during the 2002-03 season. In addition, producers are making major changes to the series’ overall look and feel. The set has been completely redesigned, a new team of writers is in place and contestants will now play the game standing rather than sitting. A new Bonus Round will include all nine celebrities and will give each day’s returning champion the opportunity to take home great prizes, including brand-new automobiles, trips around the world and cash. A new theme song, backstage footage and a new logo, “H2,” will be unveiled.
ABC News all the time
Viewers who want to catch ABC News programs after they’ve aired now have two ways to do it. ABC News on Demand, a service being launched Monday by ABCNews.com, will make all or part of ABC News programs available the day after broadcast for a monthly charge of $4.95. “World News Tonight,” “Nightline” and “Nightline UpClose” are available in their entirety and are archived for 30 days. Also available on demand will be selected news segments and celebrity interviews and music performances from “Good Morning America,” so-called “producer’s cuts” from ABC News magazine shows and excerpts from news specials, along with some radio broadcasts and best of “Nightline” segments.
As for the “World News Now” cult that watches its favorite overnight news show from different perspectives live via the Web, they’ll now have to fork over that $4.95 a month. The live webcast no longer will be free and ABC’s quirky newscast won’t be archived. Meanwhile, ABC News material will continue to be available as part of the $9.95-a-month “RealOne SuperPass” package that bundles content from a variety of sources.
Cablevision adds digital movie, theater channels
New York-area Cablevision digital subscribers can now learn about and buy tickets for the latest movies and Broadway shows, courtesy of Hollywood Media Corp.’s Totally Hollywood TV and Totally Broadway TV, two new digital channels. Totally Hollywood TV details which movies are playing where and when and allows consumers to purchase tickets. The channel also offers on-demand previews, trailers and interviews. Totally Broadway TV offers tickets as well as information about shows and actors, theater show times and schedules, a directory of locations for Broadway shows, previews and other footage. The company is also planning to launch the channels nationally.
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.
Also at WE last week, the network announced that it has given the production green light to 65 episodes of “Spend It Fast.” The shopping-spree game show, which will be stripped weekdays beginning this fall, is from Telepictures Productions and Atlas Media Productions.
Special `Bachelor’ commentary
ABC Family will “enhance” its reprise of “The Bachelor” with commentary from Alex Michel, the first titular bachelor himself, when it telecasts “The Bachelor: Special Edition” Aug. 11-16. Mr. Michel will address: How did he feel when the ambulance was called because Rhonda was having a panic attack? Did he fear rejection himself? “We are thrilled to offer our viewers more than just the original show,” said Angela Shapiro, president, ABC Family, in a statement.
Short takes
Joe Ostrow, who has headed the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau since 1994, will step down at the end of next March. The CAB has formed a search committee that is expected to select a successor by the end of this year. …The real Erin Brockovich, who was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the big-screen picture that bore her name, will host “Final Justice,” a new Lifetime Television reality dramatic series set to debut in the first quarter of 2003. Lifetime has ordered a “minimum of 13” episodes, according to a spokeswoman. … Sesame Workshop licensed its children’s show “Sesame Street” to Intertainer to distribute through video-on- demand. Intertainer, which acquired the rights to 21 half-hour episodes and specials, will distribute the shows on its cable and Internet protocol platforms.