Maxim Special Too Hot

Jun 16, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The plan to Maxim-ize the exposure of one of the publishing world’s hottest magazine titles and perhaps pique the interest of hard-to-attract young men with a prime-time NBC special threatened to fall apart after NBC affiliates got a gander at “Maxim’s Hot 100.”
A significant number of them, feeling the content was inappropriate, refused to air the babe-alacious special that was scheduled for 9 p.m. (ET) Saturday, June 14. By Friday afternoon the list of prime-time pre-emptions had grown to 20 or more affiliates, including Belo’s WCNC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., Journal Broadcasting Group’s WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and Gannett-owned stations WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tenn., and KUSA-TV in Denver. Collectively, said some sources, the reach of the no-show stations could add up to as much as 25 percent of the U.S. television universe.
Indeed, on Friday afternoon, not one of the 13 Gannett-owned NBC affiliates planned to carry the hour-long special, a situation a Gannett spokesperson said was not the result of a top-down order but was due only to decisions by general managers at the individual stations.
The reasons for pre-emption centered on content one local station executive described as “salacious” and offensive to the women staffers who had screened it after a rough cut was fed to the affiliates with a note from an unidentified network executive “strongly” suggesting that affiliates take a careful look at it.
But there also was discomfort among some affiliates who feel NBC set what one called a “precedent” by selling an hour of the network’s prime time to accommodate a program whose content and look many believe are not consistent with what they think the Peacock Network represents.
“It’s a cheap-looking show,” said one programming director in a medium-sized market.
`Schlocky’ Production
“I don’t remember the network ever sending us anything like this before,” said Nancy Johnson, program director at KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska. “It wasn’t edgy, it was just schlocky production. And there was the porn issue.” KTUU yanked the show from the prime-time slot but late Friday was talked into airing it at 3 a.m. by the distributor, IMG’s Trans World International, which bills itself as “the largest independent producer, distributor and rights representative of sports programming in the world.”
A synopsis of the special on the Zap2it Web site suggested that boys who couldn’t get a Saturday night date should “look no further for some manly, boob-filled entertainment” than the show inspired by the magazine’s increasingly popular “Hot 100” list of celebrity babes.
Gannett’s KUSA is run by Roger Ogden, who is chairman of the NBC affiliates advisory board. In that capacity he said, “The affiliates board had the opportunity to discuss the show and felt it wasn’t consistent with the quality of the shows expected from the NBC Network. At the same time, we understand this is strictly a local decision on the part of each NBC affiliate.”
Mr. Ogden said the board asked the network to reconsider its plans to broadcast the Maxim show, but on Friday afternoon, the network was making follow-up calls to affiliates planning not to clear the show to ask whether they would instead consider airing it after “Saturday Night Live.” WBIR in Knoxville, among others, still said “no.”
There was no response from TWI or representatives of Maxim to requests for comment. NBC had no comment.