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Nov 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 12

Fox orders more episodes of ‘John Doe’ and ‘Fastlane’

Fox has given a vote of confidence to “John Doe” and “Fastlane” by ordering the back nine episodes of the two freshmen dramas. On its most recent outing, “John Doe” scored a 3.1 rating/10 share in the 18 to 49 demographic, finishing ahead of ABC’s “Drew Carey” while against a strong “Dateline NBC” and the promising CBS freshman “Hack.” “Fastlane” had stiffer demographic and total viewership competition last Wednesday and finished behind “The Bachelor” on ABC, “The West Wing” on NBC and a strong “Country Music Awards” on CBS in both categories.

Fox is taking longer to decide the fate of “Firefly,” the new Joss Whedon hour that leads in to “John Doe,” and “Cedric The Entertainer Presents.”

HBO negotiating to telecast Emmys: It may not be TV but HBO may soon be home to television’s top awards. Sources said Monday that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is in final negotiations to approve a five-year, $50 million deal with HBO to air the annual awards show beginning with the September 2003 ceremony. In addition, the pay-cable channel would pick up the $5 million to $6 million production tab. And for the first time, the Emmys would be telecast without commercials, insiders said.

To boost the audience penetration level for the show, sources at the cable channel say that if it gets the Emmys, HBO also would pledge to make the high-profile annual event available to all basic-cable viewers, in effect pressing the free button for the evening of the show, which would reach about 85 percent of the country.

However, the deal must meet the approval of the Academy Board of Governors on Wednesday before moving forward. Networks still have a chance to unleash a counterproposal but are unlikely to do so, according to one academy source, having offered just over $3 million in license fees for the telecast.

“The Academy remains confident the current negotiations will lead to a substantial improvement in our license fee, allowing us to dream bigger dreams for honoring and encouraging excellence in all aspects of the television industry,” ATAS Chairman and CEO Bryce Zabel said in a statement.

McGraw leaves CBS for Discovery: Joe Abruzzese, who became ad sales president of Discovery Networks on Nov. 1, has moved quickly to bring over Scott McGraw from CBS, where both men held senior ad sales positions.Mr. McGraw, who was one of the leading inside candidates to succeed Mr. Abruzzese as ad sales president at the Eye Network, will instead become Discovery’s executive VP of ad sales.

Mr. McGraw does not replace anyone in Discovery ad sales, a Discovery spokeswoman said, but is an addition to the existing department, which Mr. Abruzzese is reorganizing.

Mr. McGraw was executive VP of sports sales and marketing at CBS, “but he hasn’t always been a sports guy,” Mr. Abruzzese noted. Mr. McGraw joined CBS in 1980. Before focusing on sports, he was VP and director, sales and marketing.”Scottie’s expertise is with clients,” Mr. Abruzzese said. “If I put him in charge of a daypart here, I’d be wasting his effort. He’ll be on the line.” At CBS, JoAnn Ross was named president of ad sales following Mr. Abruzzese’s departure.

Eminem interview to air on ‘Dateline NBC’: “Dateline NBC” has inherited an interview with Eminem, the rap star who reigns this week as box office champ with a $54 million opening weekend for his autobiographical “8 Mile.” The interview is scheduled to air on Sunday’s installment of “Dateline.”

Eminem did no other TV interviews to promote “8 Mile” except for the hour he sat with Pat O’Brien, co-host of “Access Hollywood,” the entertainment magazine produced by NBC and distributed by NBC Enterprises Domestic Syndication. Mr. O’Brien’s interview ran in several installments starting Oct. 31 and continuing into the following week.”Access” is editing the package for “Dateline” and will include some material that did not make it onto the air on “Access.”

Some sources familiar with the competition for sit-downs with Eminem said one reason no network newsmagazines landed the rapper was that they could not agree to preconditions about subjects the rapper refused to address, among them guns and his relationship with his mother.

David Corvo, the executive in charge of “Dateline,” said Mr. O’Brien assured him that he did not agree to avoid any subjects with the rapper.

A spokeswoman for “Access” said executive producer Rob Silverstein was “emphatic that there were [no preconditions]. None. Nothing was ever discussed. Nothing was ever declared off limits.”

In announcing the airdates for the “Access” interview, Mr. Silverstein said the show was able to get Eminem now because “we started championing him three years ago. Pat O’Brien actually brought him to our attention, saying, ‘He can’t miss.’ Three years of covering Eminem paid off in the biggest ‘get’ interview this year.”

Kids’ WB announces early pickups for 2003-04 season: Kids’ WB is making an early pickup commitment for five series. The network is ordering second seasons of freshman series “Ozzy & Drix,” “!Mucha Lucha!” and “What’s New Scooby-Doo,” all from Warner Bros. Animation. For the upcoming 2003-04 schedule, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “PokÈman,” from 4Kids Productions, will get new seasons.

Study says cable’s pay practices are unchanged: According to the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association’s 16th annual compensation study, the industry’s “pay practices have not changed materially over the last 12 months,” despite the downturn on Wall Street and in the general economy and despite the continuing consolidation in the cable industry.

Participants in this year’s CTHRA study included 90 cable TV programming companies, providing data on positions representing 9,058 employees, and 14 cable operators, including nine of the 10 largest multiple system operators, providing data on positions representing more than 65,818 employees.

The study found that multiple system operators’ merit raises remained almost the same, reduced overall by approximately 1 percent from last year to this year. Bonuses paid in 2001 were approximately 105 percent of targeted salary budgets, while bonuses paid in 2002 were approximately 80 percent of target salary budget projections. The most highly compensated job categories were for employees with high-speed data specialties.

For programming companies, 2002 incentives were approximately 80 percent of target salary budgets; in 2001 they were approximately 95 percent.

Lee to direct Jim Brown documentary for HBO: Director Spike Lee is set to helm and produce “Jim Brown: All-American,” a documentary about the football star-actor-activist, for HBO Sports. The documentary is slated to debut in mid-December under the cable network’s “Sports of the 20th Century” banner.#