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Jan 7, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 7

Station groups sign deals for ‘Ellen,’ ‘Sharon’

Telepictures has completed a double whammy in the syndication world. The distributor has confirmed that both “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Sharon Osbourne Show” have completed group deals for national launches in fall 2003. “Ellen” has completed a deal with each of the 14 NBC-owned stations, representing more than 30 percent of the country.

“Ellen is as big a name and, more importantly, as big a talent as syndicated television has seen hit the airwaves in a very, very long time,” said Dick Robertson, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Meanwhile, as expected, “The Sharon Osbourne Show” will air on each of the Tribune Stations, representing more than 40 percent of the country. The NBC station group deal for the upcoming talk show strip hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres clears each of the NBC owned-and-operated stations, which recently added reality strip “Starting Over” to their fall schedules. The “Ellen” deal may involve an ownership stake from NBC in the project. Telepictures arranged a similar deal with the ABC stations for rookie strip “Caroline Rhea.”

Meanwhile, the distributor has finalized a deal with the Tribune station group to carry Sharon Osbourne’s talk show.

‘Millionaire’ hits jackpot for Fox: “Joe Millionaire” scored big for Fox last night, powering the network to a nightly win in adults 18 to 49 by a 17 percent margin over second-place CBS, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. “Millionaire” pulled a No. 1-rated 10.1 rating/22 share in adults 18 to 49, giving the network its highest ratings in the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Monday time period in eight years. It was also the highest-rated series debut of the season on any network in adults 18 to 49 and adults 18 to 34, according to Fox. “Millionaire” handily won its time slot in adults 18 to 34 (12.3/29, a 70 percent margin over its nearest competitor) and total viewers (18.6 million).

For the night, Fox finished first among adults 18 to 49 with a 7.0/17, followed by CBS (5.8/14), NBC (5.3/13) and ABC (2.7/6). CBS was first in total viewers with 16.7 million, followed by Fox (14.2 million), NBC (13.1 million) and ABC (7.1 million).

Monitor-Plus service adds networks: Nielsen Media Research’s Nielsen Monitor-Plus service, which tracks advertising activity in various media and links TV ratings to commercial-occurrence data, has added five new cable networks to its cable coverage, bringing the total number of ad-supported cable networks monitored to 45.

The new networks added to Monitor-Plus are Lifetime Movie Network, National Geographic Channel, SoapNet, Speed Channel and Toon Disney.

Voter News Service discusses its future: The members of the Voter News Service board met Monday afternoon but took no definitive vote on the future of the consortium formed to collect vote totals and to conduct exit polling for the partners — the Associated Press and the news divisions of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC — whose confidence in VNS was battered by snafus on the past two national election days.

None of the members was available for comment on Monday’s meeting, but sources familiar with the situation indicated that another meeting is scheduled later this week, when the discussion is likely to be more definitive.

While a plan for some form of collaborative data collection is expected to emerge from this round of discussions, the prevailing mood is that VNS will not survive as it is now constituted and mandated.Fox slates specials: Fox has scheduled one-hour special “Bridezillas” at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27. The special will capture the lives of nine high-strung New York brides in the final days before their weddings. Regular time slot occupant “Boston Public” will be pre-empted for the night, and “Bridezillas” will lead into reality show “Joe Millionaire,” which premiered last night to strong ratings.

Fox also slated the one-hour special “Man vs. Beast” for Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. to fill the hole left by “Fastlane’s” move to Friday nights.

In “Man vs. Beast” humans compete against animals in various contests, including one in which 44 midgets compete against an 8,800-pound elephant to see who can pull a DC-10 airplane 80 feet the fastest.

Lee gets casting promotion at ABC: Keli Lee was promoted to senior VP of casting at ABC Entertainment Television Group, from VP of casting.

Ms. Lee will continue to oversee casting for all comedy and drama pilots and series for Touchstone Television and ABC Entertainment.

WB’s ‘Reunion’ premieres to big numbers: “High School Reunion,” The WB’s latest foray into the reality genre, set time period records in its core demos with its debut Sunday night. “High School Reunion” had a 2.9 rating/8 share among persons 12 to 34 (beating CBS for the hour) and a 3.4/9 in women 12 to 34. It also set network time period records among total viewers (5.2 million) and adults 18 to 34 (2.8/7). In an encouraging sign, the show built from half-hour to half-hour across all key demos, including persons 12 to 34, where it scored a 2.7/7 in the first half-hour, growing to a 3.1/8 in the second half-hour.

Walton documented while ‘Rome’ burns: Former basketball star Bill Walton, now an ESPN and ABC Sports NBA commentator, gets the reality-genre treatment from ESPN with “Bill Walton’s Long, Strange Trip.” The first of seven half-hours documenting his life on and off the court debuts Feb. 2.

In other news from ESPN, the network announced that sports talk-show host and commentator Jim Rome, who has headed a talk show on Fox Sports since 1997, will join ESPN as host of “Rome Is Burning,” a weekly one-hour live sports talk show, which is set to debut May 6.