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Oct 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 15

ABC reups ‘NYPD,’ WB extends ‘Family Affair,’ ‘What I Like About You,’ ‘Greetings,’ ‘Do Over’

ABC has confirmed that is has renewed “NYPD Blue” for 2003-04, which will be the Steven Bochco cop drama’s 11th season.

Although “Blue” has been somewhat flat year to year in the adults 18 to 49 demo ratings year to year, the Dennis Franz-led show has still been a winning, integral 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) player in ABC’s resurgent Tuesday night-along with new comedies “8 Simple Rules” and “Life With Bonnie.” To date, “Blue” has been averaging a 4.9 rating/14 share in adults 18 to 49, down 6 percent from its comparable first three week’s run last season (5.2/14), according to Nielsen Media Research national data. The show still wins the 10 p.m. Tuesday frame in total viewers (13.2 million).

WB back-nine orders soon to include ‘Family Affair,’ ‘What I Like’: On the heels of making a full-season pickup of freshman drama “Everwood” last week, The WB is rolling on a back-nine episode extension order for freshmen sitcoms “Greetings From Tucson” and “Do Over,” while handing a cancellation notice to struggling sophomore sitcom “Off Centre.” Sources close to The WB said the networks other rookie entries, 8 p.m. Thursday lead-off player “Family Affair” and 8 p.m. Friday opener “What About You,” are shortly to be announced for remaining full-season orders.

On Thursday night, the only evening to continue to struggle for the resurging Frog, “Off Centre” has been averaging a 1.3 rating in the network’s core persons 12 to 34 demographic-down about 20 percent from its year-ago average in its former 9:30 p.m. Sunday slot.

The WB is said to have several midseason bench players, including the comedy “The O’Keefes,” which got a strong reception in pilot presentations last May and could be considered for a Thursday insertion when “Off Centre” finishes its run at the end of the November sweeps. WB officials have hinted, however, that the network could offer double-runs of “Jamie Kennedy Experiment” to fill the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. Thursday time slots on a temporary basis.

Somewhat unexpectedly, “Greetings From Tucson” has been The WB’s strongest freshman sitcom in adults 18 to 49 (1.4/5), retaining 83 percent of the lead-in from 9 p.m. Friday tentpole “Reba” (1.7/6). “Do Over,” on the other hand, has been a modest player in persons 12 to 34 (1.3 rating) and adults 18 to 49 (0.7/2), holding even with lead-in “Family Affair” in the killer 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. Thursday slot-opposite NBC’s top-rated “Friends” and CBS’s “Survivor: Thailand.”

UPN extends Ungerman-Levinsohn contract: UPN has signed Nicole Ungerman-Levinsohn, senior VP of business affairs, to a long-term contract extension.

Ms. Ungerman-Levinsohn, who has been at UPN in her current capacity since June 1999, oversees the negotiation of all series licensing deals on behalf of the network, reporting to Dawn Ostroff, UPN’s president of entertainment. She was instrumental in the acquisition of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” formerly on The WB.

Ms. Ungerman-Levinsohn served as VP of business affairs at NBC, where she for negotiated prime-time licensing agreements on behalf of NBC and NBC Studios. Her network duties included development deals, talent holds and license agreements for pilots, series, movies-of-the-week, mini-series and specials. For NBC Studios, she negotiated co-ventures, overalls and above-the-line agreements for producers, writers, directors and actors. Ms. Ungerman-Levinsohn joined NBC in 1993 as director of business affairs.

Smith moves to TLC Entertainment: Maureen Smith, the former president of the now-defunct Fox Kids Network and Fox Family Channel, has joined an independent kids and family production company bannered as TLC Entertainment.

Founded in 1988 by George Taweel and Rob Loos, TLC Entertainment specializes in writing, producing and directing all forms of family entertainment. Over the past 14 years, TLC Entertainment, a Studio City, Calif.-based company has produced a diverse slate of series and specials, such as “Captain Kangaroo,” “McGee and Me!” and “The Christmas Lamb.”

Ms. Smith’s most immediate mandate is to increase the company’s library of intellectual properties, oversee marketing and brand management for each-to fully exploit its media assets across all applicable platforms including television, home video, video-on-demand, publishing and feature films.

“Maureen has an incredible talent and passion for building businesses as evidenced by her achievements at Fox Kids and Fox Family,” Mr. Taweel said in a statement.

During her five-year tenure at Fox Family, Ms. Smith was one of the key architects in building the basic cable network into a vehicle for reaching tween kids (ages 9 to 14) in daytime. She was also instrumental in launching Fox Family’s slate of original prime-time movies and miniseries.

Abruzzese ad sales president for Discovery: Discovery Communications has confirmed that Joe Abruzzese, ad sales president at CBS for the past 11 years, will become ad sales president for all of Discovery Networks’ domestic channels and properties Nov. 1.

Bill McGowan, Discovery’s executive VP and general manager of U.S. ad sales and global integrated partnerships, will report to Mr. Abruzzese, who called him, “My No. 2.”

The Abruzzese appointment, first reported by Electronic Media, was announced by Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks, U.S., at a hastily called telephone press conference Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Word from insiders in the buying community is that leading candidates to take over Mr. Abruzzese’s position at CBS include Joann Ross, executive VP of sales, and Scott McGraw, executive VP of sports sales and marketing.

Mr. Campbell, who is a former CBS executive, called Mr. Abruzzese his “trusted friend and advisor” and characterized the appointment as a “watershed day in television history” and a “great day for cable.”

Mr. Abruzzese will also take on the restructuring of the sales department with a new focus on “integrated marketing” possibilities.

E! joins BSkyB package: E! Networks has signed a carriage deal with British Sky Broadcasting that will put the E! International Network on Sky’s digital “Family Pack” of basic-tier subscription channels, beginning with a six-hour daily preview this December. The 24-hour channel launches in January.

E! will be seen in more than seven million households in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Holland and Scandinavia, according to an E! statement.

In a separate deal, the U.K.’s Sky One has acquired “The Anna Nicole Show.” The 13-episode E! series will debut Oct. 31.

Webster senior VP for UTG: Steve Webster has been named senior VP, communications, Universal Television Group.

Mr. Webster will oversee all communications efforts for UTG, which consists of Universal Television Distribution (Universal Domestic Television, Universal International Television, Universal Studios Pay-Per-View); Universal Television Productions (Universal Network Television, USA Cable Entertainment); USA Network; Sci-Fi Channel; Emerging Networks (Trio, Newsworld International); and Reveille.

Mr. Webster will report to David Goldhill, president and chief operating officer, Universal Television Group. He joins Universal from Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he served as VP, corporate communications and marketing planning, for the Game Show Network. Before that, Mr. Webster served as VP, publicity, for FX Networks from 1999 to 2001.

OpenTV cutting jobs: Following its recent acquisition of Wink, OpenTV will slash 315 positions, about 47 percent of its workforce, and close eight regional offices. Wink will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary of OpenTV. The changes should be finished by the end of the first quarter of 2003 and should yield $60 million in savings, said the company.

Ronzoni to VP at Game Show Network: Cindy Ronzoni has been named VP of publicity and corporate communications for Game Show Network. The veteran publicity executive moves into the post previously held by Steve Webster, who has gone over to Universal Television.

Ms. Ronzoni spent almost 15 years at Fox, m
ost recently as VP of corporate communications at Fox Cable Networks Group. She left Fox Cable Networks Group last year and since then has served as a public relations consultant for cable television publicity departments, including assignments at Game Show Network. Prior to her stint at Fox Cable Networks Group, Ms. Ronzoni served as VP at Fox Broadcasting Co., where she created, developed and managed the affiliate publicity department. Ms. Ronzoni was an original member of FBC’s start-up team, joining the fourth broadcast network in 1986.