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Sep 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Sept. 3

New syndie series fare well

Three syndicated series that debuted Monday each found something to crow about despite intense Labor Day competition ranging from program marathons to the U.S. Open to a telethon.

According to Nielsen Media Research statistics, Buena Vista’s “The Wayne Brady Show” appeared in 17 metered markets to average a 3.2 rating and 7 share and ranking No. 1 in its time period in New York, Philadelphia, Houston and Indianapolis. That number is off 20 percent from its average lead-in and down 2 share points but is up 3 percent from the year-ago time period average.

“The Caroline Rhea Show” made its entrance in post-midnight time slots in most of the top 10 markets but still pulled a 1.5 average and a 4 share in 41 metered markets. The series was No. 1 in the slot in four markets: Atlanta, Tampa, Fla., Phoenix and Nashville. Its average was down 17 percent and 1 share point from its lead-in and down 21 percent from its year-ago time period.

“Celebrity Justice” aired in 45 metered markets with the toughest time periods of the three but managed to score particularly well in the South, ranking No. 1 in Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Norfolk, Va., New Orleans and Richmond, Va. The strip averaged a 1.2 rating/3 share overall, off 14 percent from its lead-in. Compared with last year’s time slot, the series is off 8 percent.

Leavitt named ATAS president: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has formally named veteran network and studio executive Todd Leavitt president and chief operating officer, responsible for the organization’s day-to-day activities.

The appointment, confirmed today by ATAS Chairman and CEO Bryce Zabel, ends several weeks of published speculation about who would fill the post vacated in December by Jim Chabin.

Mr. Leavitt is scheduled to assume his full-time duties Oct. 14 after a brief part-time transitional period from his previous post as managing director of Tulip Media Ltd., a film financing and television packaging boutique.

Before that, he was chairman of Alliance Television Group (now Alliance Atlantis Communications). He was also executive VP of NBC Productions (now NBC Studios), and he served as vice chairman of the American Film Marketing Association and founder of the organization’s television committee.

Mr. Leavitt will be based at the Academy’s North Hollywood headquarters.

Breuering up a Comedy Central deal: Comedy Central has inked a multifaceted deal with comedian Jim Breuer that includes a commitment to shoot a pilot for a half-hour sketch/variety show by the end of the year.

Other elements of the deal include sponsorship of “Jim Breuer-The Lighten Up Tour,” his national stand-up tour, which kicks off Sept. 22, and the release of both “Smoke ‘n’ Breu,” his new comedy CD, and “Jim Breuer: Hardcore,” the DVD of his recent one-hour Comedy Central special. Both the CD and the DVD will be released by Comedy Central Records.

Mr. Breuer is represented by Brillstein-Grey Management and The Gersh Agency.

Mag Rack to be offered in 4 Charter markets: Mag Rack, Rainbow Media’s video-on-demand service for hobbyists and other niche-group enthusiasts, has signed a multiyear distribution agreement with Charter Communications.

Charter will offer Mag Rack to approximately 325,000 VOD-enabled customers in four markets, St. Louis; Fort Worth, Texas; Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., and parts of Los Angeles.

The Charter deal brings Mag Rack, which will reach its first anniversary Sept. 28, to a total of 1.6 million VOD-enabled digital cable customers. In addition to Charter, multiple system operators Insight Communications and Cablevision, the parent of Rainbow Media, currently make Mag Rack available to digital customers.

Mag Rack’s “video magazine” titles include American Catholic, Art of Basketry, Best of Mag Rack, Better Golf Club, BirdSight, Classic Cars, Club Vegetarian, Cook with the Pros, Destination: Nature, History of Art, Inside Weddings, Maximum Science, Mission: Space, Modern Parent, Motorcycle Freedom, Healthy by Choice, Photography Close Up, Shakespeare, SportsCamp, Take on Life, The Bible and You and Wine World.

Steinberg now NBC Studios consultant: Dawn Steinberg, who has been serving as casting director on the midseason comedy pilot “Couplings,” has been retained as a casting consultant for NBC Studios.

In her new postion, announced by NBC Studios President Ted Harbert, Ms. Steinberg will continue to work on “Coupling,” a new sitcom based on a British series about six “thirtysomething” singles who are in various stages of romantic involvement with each other. The project is a production of NBC Studios and Reveille Entertainment, the latter of which was recently formed by former William Morris Agency network series packager Ben Silverman.

Ms. Steinberg previously served as executive in charge of all NBC Studios casting for the fall 2002 pilot season.

GM joins Discovery in ‘Quest’: General Motors is joining the “Discovery Channel Quest” programming series as a sponsor in a deal that includes five “Quest” science and exploration events, beginning with “James Cameron’s Expedition: Bismarck,” premiering Dec. 8 and continuing through the third quarter 2003.

The automaker will have exclusive tags on mini-profiles of “Quest” scholars and other behind-the-scenes programming breaks. GM will receive exclusive logo identification in all tune-in print advertising, exposure on “Discovery Channel Quest” United Airlines in-flight programming and exposure in Discovery Channel retail stores, among other elements.

Wired cable grows: Wired cable audiences grew in all dayparts during the second quarter of 2002, compared with the same quarter last year, according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau’s analysis of Nielsen data.

The largest single increase was in prime time, up more than 3.7 million homes, or 17.3 percent, according to the CAB. On a 24-7 basis, wired cable was up by more than 2 million homes for the quarter, or 17.6 percent.

Game Show’s ‘WinTuition’ talent search: Thinking about how best to get your kid or tween to earn money for that pricey college education? Perhaps you should consider Game Show Network’s national talent search for children 7 to 12 to appear on “WinTuition,” the network’s new game show debuting in December.

Live auditions take place in five cities beginning Sept. 9, in conjunction with GSN’s cable affiliates, AT&T (Culver City, Calif.), Comcast (Nashville and Indianapolis) and Charter Communications (Long Beach, Calif., and St. Louis).

Big winners on the game show can bank $60,000 for college. Details and applications are available on the network’s Web site, www.gameshownetwork.com.