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Jan 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Posted Wednesday, Jan. 8

‘Sex’ to end at HBO

Say goodbye to HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

The much-lauded series, one of the pay cable network’s signatures, will begin production in March on a final 20-episode season that will play out in two arcs, the first consisting of 12 episodes that will air in the summer, with the final eight set for Jan. 2004.

The announcement that “Sex,” like “The Sopranos,” was heading for its final season was made during HBO’s presentation at the semi-annual Television Critics Association Press Tour, now underway in Los Angeles.

But HBO executives held out the hope that the creative forces behind both series could yet be convinced to return for additional episodes beyond their “final” seasons; namely, “Sex’s” sixth and “Soprano’s” fifth.

New series in the HBO pipeline include “Deadwood,” David Milch’s Western, and “Marriage,” from Steven Bochco. In other TCA news:

Discovery made it official. Discovery Civilization, it’s co-venture with The New York Times, has been renamed the Discovery Times Channel.

Ford, Coke back for more ‘Idol’: The real winners of the newest edition of Fox’s “American Idol”– namely, its advertisers-have been named. Returning sponsors of the show, debuting Jan. 21, are Ford Motor Co. and Coca-Cola. AT&T Wireless also has signed on as an exclusive presenting sponsor. Old Navy, the show’s exclusive apparel sponsor, and Clairol’s Herbal Essence are also on board as new advertising partners. “Idol” sponsorship packages include product placements and interstitials.

Ford will expand its presence this season with the “Ford Focus Room,” where contestants share their feelings with viewers before and after auditions. In addition, Ford vehicles will be used by contestants. Coke will again present the “Coca-Cola Red Room,” the show’s sponsored version of the traditional Green Room for contestants.

Additionally, through a series of interstitials called “Coke-Behind-the-Scenes,” Coca-Cola will provide viewers with a vantage on what the contestants are doing between shows. AT&T Wireless plans an extensive marketing campaign in support of its sponsorship, details TBA, while Clairol Herbal Essences will offer contestants haircolor, haircare products and guidance as well as makeovers. Old Navy, which featured contestants from the first edition of “Idol” in its holiday-season advertising, will feature a show-related “special opportunity” for fans, also to be announced. “The new integrated sponsorships … will continue the network’s tradition of breaking the mold when it comes to creative relationships with our advertisers, said Jon Nesvig, president of sales for Fox.

Turner restructures sales division: Linda Yaccarino, senior VP and general sales manager, TBS Superstation, is adding to her portfolio the duties of general manager of entertainment sales for Turner Network Television. She now becomes general manager of TBS Superstation and TNT Sales, overseeing all entertainment sales for Turner Broadcasting Sales.

Ms. Yaccarino will report to Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group Sales and Marketing and president of Turner Sports. The new title and responsibilities for Ms. Yaccarino topline a broad restructuring at the top of the Turner sales organization.

Other appointments and moves include the following: Keith Bowen, previously senior VP and general sales manager for TNT, becomes senior VP, national accounts, TBS and TNT sales, and will oversee all national Turner entertainment sales offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit. He will report to Ms. Yaccarino. Trish Frohman, senior VP of Turner Sports Sales, expands her duties to oversee all sports sales and Turner relationships with sports programming partners, including the NBA, NASCAR, MLB, PGA of America and all marketing and promotional partners.

She will report to Mr. Lazarus. Chris Eames, formerly senior VP, sports sales, is promoted to senior VP, sales, marketing and promotion, and will now work across entertainment and sports sales. He will report to Mr. Lazarus.

A&E unveils new projects: A&E Network has picked up 16 one-hour episodes of “MI5,” a co-production with the BBC that was known as “Spooks” in the United Kingdom. A summer debut for the spy series is expected.

The network also announced at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, now under way in Los Angeles, that it is developing a two-hour film about actress Bette Davis with a script by Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”). The biofilm is centered on her life in the 1950s, when she won an Oscar for her role in “All About Eve.”

The network also will debut “The Nazi Officer’s Wife” this spring. “Wife” is a two-hour special based on the true story of a young Jewish woman who led a secret life in Germany during World War II. The special will be narrated by actress Susan Sarandon.

Balagia takes Fox marketing post: Terry Balagia has been named senior VP of creative marketing for Fox Broadcasting Co. Mr. Balagia comes to Fox from D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles, where he was senior VP and executive creative director. At Fox, he will oversee all on-air and off-channel promotional efforts. He will report to Roberta Mell, executive VP of marketing.

Ford, Coke back for more ‘Idol’: Ford Motor Co. and Coca-Cola have returned as sponsors of the second edition of Fox’s “American Idol” series. AT&T Wireless, Old Navy and Clairol’s Herbal Essences have also signed on as new sponsors. Sponsorships include product placements within the show and interstitials. As part of the AT&T Wireless deal, AT&T Wireless will get exclusive show-related content that it can then deliver to its customers.

Trio to explore how TV shows are made: Trio, Universal Television Group’s emerging digital cable network, is going behind the picture to focus on the making of popular TV shows with “TV Out of the Box.”

At the winter edition of the semi-annual Television Critics Association Press Tour, now under way in Los Angeles, the network unveiled “Box,” its original series set for a Jan. 22 premiere that will follow TV’s creative process from the first script to the rewrites in the writers room to the table read with the cast and then on to the final taping. Shows that will get the “Box” treatment include FX’s “The Shield” and Fox’s “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.”

In other TCA news from Trio: The network will debut a nightly documentary film block Jan. 27. That block, under the umbrella title of “9 Sharp,” opens with “Looking for Richard,” a 1996 documentary directed by and starring Al Pacino.

Trio’s next theme month, March, will focus on ’70s maverick filmmakers and will be anchored by “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” a two-hour original documentary based on the Peter Biskind book of the same name. Films airing on Trio in the month will include such ’70s-era emblems as Hal Ashby’s “Shampoo” and George Lucas’s “THX 1138.” Previous Trio theme months have focused on TV and film censorship and on TV series that were “brilliant but cancelled.”

Oscarcast in HDTV on ABC: ABC will broadcast the Oscars in HDTV for the first time Sunday, March 23. The Academy Awards joins the Super Bowl (Jan. 26), the NBA finals and the Stanley Cup on the list of big events that will be offered in high-definition format on the network.

This season, ABC will raise its prime-time HDTV quotient to more than 16 hours per week with the sponsorship of Zenith Electronics Corp. “Monday Night Football” will go high-def in the 2003-04 season, the network said.