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Jan 27, 2003  •  Post A Comment

‘Alias’ gets big boost

The post-Super Bowl episode of ABC’s “Alias” scored an 8.3 rating among adults 18 to 49 and 17.4 million viewers. That’s more than double its 4.0 rating average in the demo this season and is up by more than 8 million viewers from its 9.3 million total viewers average so far this season. The key time slot gave the much-promoted episode of “Alias” its best ratings ever.

CBS yanks ‘Med,’ ‘Supreme’: CBS is pulling “Presidio Med” and “Queens Supreme” from its February sweeps schedule and will fill the holes left behind with a new round of “Star Search.”

The two dramas officially were put on hiatus, but given both shows’ anemic ratings, it is unlikely they will return. “Presidio Med” scored a 1.7 rating and 4 share in adults 18 to 49 and 6.1 million viewers in its most recent outing last week and “Queens Supreme” had a 1.9/6 in the demo and 6.2 million viewers in its most recent airing Friday.

“Star Search’s” current run will end on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The new run, the duration of which has not been determined, will start Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The show will air twice a week on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and on Fridays at 8 p.m. In between the two “Star Search” runs during February sweeps, CBS will air previously announced “Price Is Right” prime-time specials and other specials.

Starting the week of Feb. 16, CBS’s Wednesday schedule will include “Star Search” at 8 p.m., “60 Minutes II” at 9 p.m. and “48 Hours” at 10 p.m. and its Friday schedule will consist of “Star Search” at 8 p.m., “Hack” at 9 p.m. and reruns of “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” or “Without a Trace” or “48 Hours” at 10 p.m.

Hewitt steps down from ’60 Minutes’: NEW YORK – Don Hewitt, who invented “60 Minutes” and has been its executive producer since the stopwatch began ticking in 1968, announced Monday he is stepping down next year.

Hewitt, 79, will be succeeded by Jeff Fager, executive producer of “60 Minutes II.”

The multi-year timetable calls for Mr. Hewitt to keep his hand on the tiller of “60 Minutes” until June 2004, at which time he will turn it over to Mr. Fager, 48, who spent six years at “60 Minutes” before launching the four-year-old spin-off that quickly won a permanent slot in the lineup and that has since won every major honor at least once.

The two magazines will not, as had been rumored over the last few months, collapsed into one operation. Mr. Fager’s “II” successor will be named later.

After the passing of the torch, Mr. Hewitt will become executive producer of CBS News, a role that will call for him to develop and launch new projects and fine-tune existing programming.

Mr. Hewitt had resisted any move that might be interpreted as an attempt to put him out to pasture, even appearing on “Larry King Live” last December to declare his intention to “die at my desk.”

By convincing Mr. Hewitt to turn the granddaddy of newsmagazines over to Mr. Fager and to stay with CBS News, CBS News President Andrew Heyward navigated one of the stickiest wickets of his tenure.

As to just what happened to make the delicate deal come together now, Mr. Hewitt, sounding downright jolly, not to mention forgiving, said: “It all can be summed up in something that Heyward says here: ‘I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.’ I have a lot of ideas I’ve talked to them about. I have a lot of ideas I’ve talked to them about and whatever success I’ve had in television-and I’m willing to admit it may all have been dumb luck-whatever it was, they don’t want to lose it.

Mr. Hewitt was the brain behind the legendary 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate that changed presidential campaigning. Under his tenure, “60 Minutes” would, by making a huge profit, set a precedent that would change the demands network executives put on news programming. No longer would news programming be thought of merely as a public service. Mr. Hewitt had shown it could be a revenue center as well.

“There was a lot of baloney going around. But it’s all disappeared. All of a sudden, the dark clouds have all disappeared. And I’m going to be here, I guess for the rest of my life. And that ain’t a bad thing to happen to anyone,” said Mr. Hewitt. “I’ve got too much energy not to direct it somewhere.”Super Bowl draws young viewers: Super Bowl XXXVII averaged a 36.4 rating among adults 18 to 49 and a 34.2 rating among adults 18 to 34-the highest ratings for the game in young demos since ABC last carried the Super Bowl in 2000, according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. An average audience of 88.64 million viewers watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21. According to ABC, about 137.65 million viewers watched at least part of the game, making it the second-most-viewed Super Bowl in history after the 1996 Dallas vs. Pittsburgh game.

‘Friends’ star creates series for WE: “Friends” star Courtney Cox has created and will executive produce her first television project, “Mix It Up,” which has received a 13-episode commitment from WE: Women’s Entertainment. The home-decoration reality series, scheduled for a fall debut, will focus on individuals moving in together who are often at odds stylistically. In addition, the show will pit two interior designers against one another as they try to assist the couples in their attempts to blend their personal living styles. In a statement, Ms. Cox said the show was inspired by her own experiences. “When my husband [David Arquette] and I moved in together, it was quite a challenge blending my more refined sensibilities with his more outrageous tastes and vast collection of tchotchkes,” she said. The series was packaged by the William Morris Agency.

Lara Croft gets big promo push by G4: G4, the Comcast-owned digital cable network targeted at 12- to 34-year-old players of video games and other games, is building a major on-air and online promotional campaign around Lara Croft, the popular video game character who made the transition to the big screen.The deal, described by the network as a “million-dollar agreement,” is with game publisher Eidos Interactive and game developer Core Design and will promote the network and the latest edition of the Lara Croft game as well as the second “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” big-screen picture, due in July.The deal also calls for the spots cross-promoting G4 and the Croft game to air on other young-adult-oriented cable networks, including MTV, Comedy Central and ESPN.G4 reaches nine million homes in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Washington and Seattle.

Meir moves to National Geographic: Donna Friedman Meir is leaving Kids’ WB to start a children’s programming department at National Geographic Television and Film. Ms. Meir, whose title will be president of kids programming and production, will develop TV specials and direct-to-home videos based on the National Geographic brand. She will be based in Los Angeles and will begin the new job in mid-February. Ms. Meir was executive VP, Kids’ WB! programming, where she oversaw all the network’s broadcast kids programming, including hits such as “Jackie Chan Adventures,” “X-Men: Evolution” and “What’s New Scooby Doo?”

Tina Brown to star in CNBC specials: Tina Brown, one of the rare editors who became as well known as any of the magazines she edited — Vanity Fair, New Yorker and the short-lived Talk — will star in four prime-time hour-long specials, titled “Topic A With Tina Brown,” on CNBC.

The first “Topic A,” scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday, March 20, just days before the Oscars are awarded, will focus on one of Ms. Brown’s favorite subjects: Hollywood, hype and the war between art and commerce.The executive producer of Ms. Brown’s specials is former network news producer Kathy O’Hearn, the five-time Emmy winner who launched “American Morning With Paula Zahn” on CNN.

The format will be live to tape and the goal is lively conversation from opinionated guests, still to be booked.”‘Topic A’ will invite viewers to drop in on conversations that explore unexpected perspectives on business, politics and media,” said Ms. Brown, who now writes a column for The Times o
f London and Salon.com. “CNBC has a great demographic and that means I can cover complex and intriguing topics in depth.”

“Our prime-time lineup is designed for viewers interested in sharp conversation and surprising insights,” said CNBC President Pamela Thomas-Graham. “Tina’s new program is the ideal addition, and will give our audience a unique opportunity to hear the conversations she provokes around her table.”

WB grabs ‘Queens’: The WB picked up a comedy pilot based on the “Sweet Potato Queens” series of books. The books detail author Jill Conner Browne’s philosophy on life, love, friendships and fun. The sitcom, which will be geared toward The WB’s younger audience, will be executive produced and written by Pamela Eells, who was co-executive producer of “Mad About You,” “The Nanny” and “Ellen.” Michigan J. Productions and Ms. Eells’ Bon Mot Inc. are producing the series. Consulting producers are Ms. Browne, Lindy DeKoven and Kyle Jennings.#