‘Star Search’ Finale Pre-empted by War Coverage
The finale of CBS’s Star Search was pre-empted for Iraq war coverage halfway through the live show Wednesday night. Because the show is live and counts on viewers’ votes over the Web to determine winners, the show was stopped at 9:33 p.m. (ET) when war coverage took precedence.
Winners had already been chosen in the kids musician and dance category. One of the two comedians in the comic category had performed before getting bumped for news. The adult singer category didn’t take place. Results of the completed categories will stand and the network and producers are still determining how and when they will finish the show, a CBS spokesperson said. Survivor, which ran from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., was unaffected and ran in its entirety. News also pre-empted a CSI repeat from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.Nets Reschedule Regular Programming: The WB will rerun last night’s episode of Angel this Sunday at 9 p.m. (ET). The last 10 minutes of last night’s episode was pre-empted for breaking war coverage, upsetting fans on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The episode ran in its entirety on the West Coast. “Angel” and a repeat of “Charmed” at 8 p.m. will replace the originally scheduled movie Blade on Sunday.
CBS is adding more games to its NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship coverage on Sunday, March 23. Games played in Tampa and Nashville will air from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET). The two-hour block is in addition to the three windows of games previously scheduled starting at 12:10 p.m. Following the games, 60 Minutes will air from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by a repeat of Without a Trace from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Also, over at Fox, the network will air Jurassic Park: The Lost World on Sunday instead of the previously scheduled True Lies.
Networks rejigger lineups to accommodate war news: NBC will replace Thursday’s scheduled episode of ER with a Dateline special devoted to the war with Iraq at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The rest of NBC’s lineup-a repeat of Friends, Scrubs, a repeat of Will & Grace and Good Morning, Miami-will remain unchanged. NBC will air one-minute news updates during each comedy.
Following local newscasts from 11 p.m. to 11:35 p.m., NBC will pre-empt Late Show With Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien for network news coverage, which could last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour and a half. After the network signs off on its news coverage, the airtime will be turned over to the MSNBC news feed.
CBS, which bumped NCAA Tournament coverage to ESPN during the day today while CBS News took over, planned to run its regularly scheduled NCAA basketball games tonight from 7 p.m. (ET) to 11 p.m. ABC pulled Profiles From the Frontline and Are You Hot? from its schedule tonight and will air news coverage from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fox also had plans to pre-empt its regularly scheduled lineup of The Pulse and a rerun of Married by America tonight for all news coverage.
UPN had no plans to pre-empt its prime-time lineup today but had one-minute news updates on the war scheduled at the top of each hour. CBS News was producing the reports. The WB had no plans to pre-empt its regularly scheduled programming tonight.
Attack Pumps Up Cable News: Cable news audiences swelled dramatically Wednesday night, driven by interest in what President Bush had to say after ordering the attack on Iraq.
From 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. (ET), a time frame that starts with the first reports of the initial attack, President Bush’s short speech and the first rounds of intense reports on what it meant, Fox News Channel averaged 5.76 million viewers (an increase of 503 percent from the network’s quarter-to-date average for the time slot), according to data from Nielsen Media Research.
CNN averaged 4.968 million viewers (up 754 percent over the quarter-to-date) and MSNBC averaged 2.297 million (up 754 percent from the quarter-to-date).
Ratings for the broadcast networks’ coverage Wednesday was not available, but MSNBC was expecting that data to bring more good news, since its signal had been carried by most NBC affiliates after NBC News ended its special report at midnight.
Sports Emmy Awards Nominees Announced: Nominees for the 24th annual Sports Emmy Awards have been announced by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
NBC, which aired the Winter Olympics, led the network tally, with 36 nominations, followed ESPN’s 22. HBO and Fox were tied for third with 14 nominations each.
The XIX Olympic Winter Games received 17 nominations, the most of any program or series. The Olympics were followed by HBO’s Real Sports With Bryan Gumbel and ESPN’s SportsCenter, each of which garnered four nominations.
The awards will be presented at a black-tie ceremony in Manhattan April 21. Highlights from the ceremony will be telecast by Fox Sports Net, during its Best Damn Sports Show Period April 27. The network and individual program nominations tallies follow:
FOX Sports Net- 2
ESPN Classic- 1
Outdoor Life Net. – 1Multiple Program Miniseries NominationsProgram -Nominations- Network
XIX Olympic Winter Games- 17 -NBC
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel- 4 -HBO
SportsCenter- 4- ESPN
NFL on Fox: Super Bowl XXXVI- 3 -FOX
NFL Films Presents – 3- ESPN 2
The 102nd U.S. Open Golf Championship- 3 -NBC
ABC’s NFL Monday Night Football -2 -ABC
Dateline NBC: Peggy & Dorothy- 2- NBC
Emmitt Smith: Run With History -2- ESPN2
Inside the NFL- 2- HBO
NASCAR on FOX- 2 -FOX
NASCAR on NBC/TNT- 2 -NBC/TNT
On the Record With Bob Costas- 2- HBO
Our Greatest Hopes, Our Worst Fears:- 2- ABCThe Tragedy of the Munich Games
Outside the Lines: Weekly- 2 -ESPN
The Compleat Angler- 2- ESPN2
Tour de France- 2 -CBSCBS Affils Feel Burned by NCAA Game Deal With ESPN: A number of CBS affiliates are angry that when CBS Sports worked out a deal to shift NCAA mens’ basketball games to ESPN should coverage of the war in Iraq pre-empt the games they lost the option to showcase a multicast of CBS News’ war coverage and NCAA action and let their viewers choose which to watch. CBS offered the affiliates the option earlier this month.
ESPN’s insistence that anything on cable be exclusive pulled the digital rug out of from under the affiliates, many of which had sunk a lot of time, effort, promotion and money, which they do not expect to recoup, and had arranged channel space with local cable operators-some of which don’t want to dedicate multiple channels to accommodate analog and digital signals on a normal basis.
A CBS Sports spokesperson issued this statement, “We were unable to reach a national cable deal without exclusivity.”
The deal struck Wednesday afternoon by CBS Sports largely will shift NCAA mens’ basketball games to Disney-owned ESPN or ESPN2 if and when the games are pre-empted by CBS News war coverage through Thursday, Friday and over the weekend.
The first afternoon of games went to ESPN Thursday, when Dan Rather began anchoring a special report at noon (ET). Once a block of games has moved to ESPN it cannot return to CBS until the next cluster of games begins.
A number of key station groups indicated to CBS that they understood why the deal ultimately had to be made under unique circumstances.
But Bob Lee, the general manager of Schurz-owned WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va., who is chairman of the CBS affiliates advisory board, said he was swamped by “lots of angry calls” Wednesday night and his e-mail in-box was full of similar sentiments Thursday morning.
“There has been a lot of anger and deep disappointment that the deal we thought we had with the network until late Wednesday afternoon went away,” said Mr. Lee, who stressed that everyone understands the unique circumstances CBS found itself in because of the war but still were disappointed that it would come down to a deal in which affiliates-especially those who were being good digital citizens without a shot at making any money off the extra platform-were effectively forgotten.
“Once again the rollout of digital has stumbled over cable,” said Mr. L
ee. “I think everybody involved needs every opportunit[y] for the migration to digital television to have showcase opportunities.”
Jim Hefner, the general manager of Capital Broadcasting-owned WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., has multicast all the NCAA championship games for two years with the full cooperation and support of the network and was planning to do so again this month.
“It has nothing to do with money. We weren’t going to make any money,” said Mr. Hefner, who said his market has a lot of interest in college sports because of the proximity to such universities as Duke and North Carolina State.
The affiliate-body executive suggested that ESPN would have been confronted with the possibility of only low-profile duplication in about 18 percent of the country, while 18.7 percent of the country will not even have the option of seeing NCAA games placed on ESPN at all because the sports channel is available in only 81.3 percent of the country’s TV homes.
A spokesperson for ESPN was not immediately available for comment.
ABC News ‘Debacle’ Riles Affiliates: On- and off-air fumbles and snafus by ABC News Wednesday night have ABC News President David Westin under extreme pressure inside ABC and from affiliates who feel their network news division has dropped the ball once too often on major breaking stories.
In addition to being the last network to report on the United States’ attack on Iraq Wednesday, the network left its local affiliates in the lurch by telling them repeatedly that they would get no window for local news and then abruptly shutting down the network’s special report on the stroke of 11 p.m. (ET), leaving numerous affiliates with nothing prepared for air.
The result was what more than one affiliate news executive described as a “debacle” during which some affiliates filled late local news time with CNN’s coverage with live phone reports from Baghdad, some went black for a few minutes and at least one station was said to have gone to its weather radar image until it could get a Seinfeld repeat on the air.
Mr. Westin vowed to solve the problem of preparedness after the Columbia space shuttle tragedy in early February, when ABC News was missing in action during the early stages because it does not have a Saturday morning news show.
Late Wednesday afternoon, ABC News staffers were told they could “stand down” for the night because the network’s intelligence suggested that nothing was going to happen that night. While other networks also were surprised when President Bush launched the short air attack Wednesday night, they were able to get their main anchors into a studio for special reports quickly. But ABC limped along for nearly a half-hour with standby anchor Chris Wallace in Washington and a White House producer not accustomed to being on-air until Peter Jennings got to the studio in New York.
“They promised us after the Columbia that they had learned their lesson, that this would never happen again,” said Allen R. Sandubrae, VP of news for Citadel Communications, which owns three ABC affiliates.
“It’s clear David wants to solve this problem. It’s clear he has taken responsibility. And it was clear on Wednesday night that it hadn’t been solved,” said Bruce Baker, the Cox television executive who heads the ABC affiliates advisory board.
“It is surprising to me that the same network that did such a marvelous job on Monday night could have such problems Wednesday night.”
A spokesman for ABC News issued a statement that said: “A decision was made to end coverage at 11 p.m. We failed to communicate that information to our affiliates in a timely manner, which left many of them in the untenable position of not being prepared to go on with their local newscasts, which we deeply regret. There is nothing we value more than the vital relationship we have with our affiliates, and we are sorry that we let them down last night.”
‘Idol’ Wins Showdown With ‘Survivor’: In a night interrupted by war coverage, two of TV’s biggest hits, Fox’s American Idol and CBS’s Survivor, still drew big numbers Wednesday night.
An expanded hour-long Idol won the head-to-head competition with Survivor (which moved to Wednesday to accommodate NCAA basketball games on Thursday) in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Idol scored a 7.6/18 in the demo and 16.7 million viewers, and Survivor pulled a 6.1/15 in the demo and 16.6 million viewers. NBC’s Dateline was a strong third with a 4.7/11 in the demo and 14.5 million viewers.
CBS switched to war coverage at 9:30 p.m. following a half-hour of Star Search. ABC, NBC and Fox broke into their regularly scheduled programming at several points from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. before switching to full war coverage for the rest of the night at 10 p.m. NBC won the 10 p.m. hour, when all the networks had war coverage, with a 6.6/15 in the demo and 17.3 million viewers.
For the night, Fox won in adults 18 to 49 with a 6.5/15, followed by NBC (5.6/13), CBS (5.2/12) and ABC (4.1/9). In total viewers, NBC won with 15.9 million, followed by CBS (14.5 million), Fox (14.1 million) and ABC (9.8 million.)
Fox to Air New Drama Series: Fox will premiere new drama Keen Eddie on Tuesday, June 3, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., in the time slot currently occupied by the hit 24. Eddie was a potential fall series that got pushed back to midseason and has been awaiting an air date. Shot in England, the series follows a New York cop played by Mark Valley who is sent to London to work for Scotland Yard.
Fox executives announced at the press tour in January an initiative to program original dramas and comedies in the summer and start their season earlier than the traditional fall start. Scheduling Eddie is their first move in that direction.
Eddie is created and executive produced by J.H. Wyman. Simon West and Warren Littlefield also executive produce.
TBS Picks Up ‘Dawson’s Creek’: A Dawson’s Creek flood is coming to TBS Superstation, which has acquired cable-exclusive off-network rights to the Sony Pictures Television series that will soon end its six-year run on The WB, TBS’s broadcast sister network.
As a buildup to the series finale on The WB in May, TBS will air the entire series in four-hour, four-episode blocks weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon (ET), beginning Monday, March 31.
Lewinsky to Host New Fox Series: Monica Lewinsky has signed to host the new unscripted Fox series Mr. Personality. The show, produced by Nash Entertainment in association with The G Group, premieres Monday, April 21, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
In the series, a woman will date several bachelors whose looks are hidden, so she must rely on their personalities in deciding which one she wants to pursue a relationship with. Ms. Lewinsky, best known for her days as a White House intern in the Bill Clinton era, has been designing handbags and accessories the past few years.