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Nov 5, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 5

Voter News Service pulls plug on exit polls

Hours before polls began closing Tuesday, Voter News Service announced it did not trust its analysis of exit poll data. VNS will not publish the results of its surveys of voter attitudes that in the past have helped TV and other news organizations call and analyze some races before vote totals are in.

VNS, a consortium that consists of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press, however, said its separate operation to count actual votes was unaffected. In addition to VNS, the AP was gathering actual vote counts, which also were available directly from election officials.

VNS issued a statement that said the exit poll data was being collected but “is not being properly analyzed by the organization’s new computer system.

“Voter News Service and our member organizations place the highest priority on providing accurate data,” the statement said.

After the fiasco of 2000, when flipflops and retractions of early calls, particularly in the long-unresolved Florida presidential vote, left network anchors with egg on their faces, VNS rebuilt its system and networks built more fail-safes into their individual systems.

A recent spate of stories about what would happen in election night reporting emphasized caution on the part of networks in what they planned to say, when they planned to say it and on what they planned to base characterizations of races. But there also were questions about whether the new VNS system would be fully operational and adequately tested.

It wasn’t until late Tuesday afternoon that VNS pulled the plug on its exit poll analysis. Reaction from the networks, each of which is represented on the VNS board, ranged from public sanguinity to private outrage. “Some heads must roll at VNS,” said one industry source.

Some anger was targeted at CNN, which sources said had jumped the gun with an on-air announcement about the VNS decision while VNS board members were still working on a draft of the statement and in spite of an agreement that there would be no such unilateral rush to break the news. A spokesman for CNN said the cable news network had understood that cable networks were able to announce the decision before there was an official statement.

Steven Bochco produces dramatic series for HBO: Producer Steven Bochco is producing a series for HBO focusing on the trials of a married couple. The series, titled “Marriage,” will begin shooting next year with a 13-episode commitment from HBO. The series, which has not yet been cast, is targeted for a 2004 debut.

Mr. Bochco’s credits include “NYPD Blue” and “L.A. Law.” For years the producer has railed against content restrictions on the broadcast networks, even while remaining loyal to them.

The new series is set in New York City, with its entire narrative action taking place in one married couple’s bedroom, bathroom and closet, according to the network. Mr. Bochco and Alison Cross (“Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story”) are “Marriage’s” co-creators, writers and executive producers.

Bravo senior staff to stay with Rainbow Media: When NBC’s acquisition of Bravo closes, the arts and entertainment network’s senior management team will remain with Cablevision’s Rainbow Media. The Bravo side of the deal expects few if any Bravo employees to lose their jobs in the transaction; the NBC side tips the Peacock hat to the Bravo employees, but says no staffing decisions have been made yet. The expectation from the Bravo side is that approximately half of the 200-person Bravo workforce will remain with the NBC-owned cable network. Almost all the other Bravo staffers will be offered jobs inside Rainbow at IFC and IFC Entertainment, according to a Cablevision insider. “There are very, very few who won’t have jobs. Maybe none,” this insider said. According to the NBC side of the deal, no staffing decisions have been reached yet. “Clearly Bravo employees offer a great deal of experience and talent,” a network spokeswoman said, declining additional comment on the ground that no decisions have been made. A Cablevision spokesperson had no comment about prospective personnel moves, beyond confirming that the four senior executives would stay on with Rainbow and IFC. After the deal closes, Kathleen Dore, president of Bravo Networks, will continue to run IFC and IFC Entertainment, the film production and distribution company, which this year produced or distributed independent theatrical hits “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Ed Carroll, Bravo’s general manager, will continue as executive VP/GM of the IFC network. Gregg Hill, Bravo’s executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing, will continue as EVP of affiliate sales and marketing for IFC and Mag Rack. Jonathan Sehring will continue as president, IFC Entertainment. Game channel G4 signs carriage deal with Time Warner: G4, Comcast Corp.’s digital cable network dedicated to video games, has signed a carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable that calls for it to be rolled out over the next two years to virtually all TWC digital basic subscribers.

The new deal, which goes into effect next month, brings to 12 million the number of digital households that receive the new channel. Kaplan and Lipstone named co-heads of William Morris’ network TV division: Aaron Kaplan and Greg Lipstone have been named co-heads of network television at the William Morris Agency, where they will join the leadership team of William Morris Television along with Sam Haskell, executive VP and worldwide head of TV, and Mark Itkin, worldwide head of syndication, cable and non-fiction programming. They will report to Mr. Haskell.

Prior to his promotion, Mr. Kaplan was senior VP, responsible for packaging and staffing writers, directors and actors for series television. Mr. Lipstone was senior VP and head of network packaging and creative development for the TV division, with the responsibility of coordinating network television packaging, including comedy, drama and reality programming, as well as specializing in William Morris’ international TV business. VH1 adds new specials and series to slate: VH1 has announced several new additions to its regular lineup, including the year-end special “VHI Big in 2002 Awards.” The cable channel, which recently canceled the “Liza and David” reality series, will air a made-for-cable award show with categories that include Favorite “Very Special” Episode and You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth? in which all the nominees are members of the Osbourne clan. Other specials and series on the VH1 slate include: “Inside/Out,” a documentary series focusing on musicians and other artists at a crossroad, including Warren Zevon, Tommy Lee and Jaime Fox.

“Rock Med,” a documentary series about the emergency medical teams that volunteer for duty at concerts.

“Mock Rock,” a series in which unknown cover bands are made over to look like rock stars and then given the chance to appear in a concert with their idols.

VH1’s “Ambushed,” a hidden-camera series in which unknown musicians answer Musician Wanted ads and find themselves auditioning for world-famous rockers and the opportunity to join them on stage for one song. Premier episode features the Goo Goo Dolls.

“50 Greatest Hip-Hop Artists of All Time,” a special focusing on the biggest artists in hip-hop.

UPN replaces ‘Haunted’ for sweeps: UPN is replacing an episode of the low-rated “Haunted” next Tuesday, Nov. 12, and replacing it with a World Wrestling Entertainment special. A network spokesman declined to comment on the show’s future, but pulling it during November sweeps does not bode well for the series. In six episodes, the series has been averaging a 1 rating and 3 share among adults 18 to 49 and 2.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Jim Chabin picked as CEO of Promax & BDA: Promax & BDA has once again tapped the talents of former President and CEO Jim Chabin as the organization’s chief executive officer, with responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the dual association effective immediately.

Mr. Chabin first served as
president and CEO of Promax’s earlier incarnation, the Broadcast Promotion and Marketing Executives Association (BPME), in 1992. Mr. Chabin initiated the organization’s name change to Promax in an effort to expand its focus beyond traditional broadcast. He rejoins Promax & BDA from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, where he served as president beginning in 1999.

Glynn Brailsford, who previously held the post of president and CEO, has been assigned to the newly created role of chief creative officer, reporting to Mr. Chabin. In this capacity, Mr. Brailsford will work with Mr. Chabin and the Promax & BDA board on creative issues and initiatives with regard to producing the association’s worldwide events and creative programs.

Mr. Chabin announced that planning is currently under way for the expansion of the association’s highly successful “Ratings Roadshow,” which was introduced in July and featured a series of one-day workshops in four major television markets. In addition, he confirmed that next year’s international Promax & BDA conference will take place June 4-6 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in downtown Los Angeles. Wood lands Paramount post: Terry Wood has been named executive VP of programming at Paramount Domestic Television.