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TCA Notes: TNN Launching Spike TV `As Fast as Possible’

Jul 14, 2003  •  Post A Comment

“Leave it to men to launch prematurely,” Albie Hecht joked at the cable portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles. The TNN president said the newly injunction-free net will rebrand “as fast as possible, within a month; we’ve de-Spiked, now we have to re-Spike.” As for whether the network still plans to air a “switch-flipping” special marking the moment of the name change, Mr. Hecht said he’s not sure yet. “We’d like to do something, but right now we don’t want to take attention away from our new programming,” he said. “You might just turn it on one Monday, and there it is.” Mr. Hecht also unveiled “The Joe Schmo Show,” a new series that could do to reality programs what “Blazing Saddles” did to Westerns. The show takes an unsuspecting “guy next door” and puts him in a faux reality show with a group of improv actors out to spoof every convention of the genre.
Gay Net Shelved
Showtime has shelved plans for a gay-themed pay-cable network. “We didn’t think the carriage environment in the cable industry right now was that great,” said Matt Blank, Showtime chairman and CEO. “Hopefully there will maybe be an opportunity in the future.” The network also announced that its parole-system drama “Street Time” will premiere a second season in August.
Third Tour For Ozzy
“If you thought we wouldn’t re-sign `The Osbournes’ for another season, you’re crazy,” said Van Toffler, president, MTV, as he announced that MTV re-signed “The Osbournes” for a third season. Since ratings for the show’s second season fell off from the record-breaking freshman season, insiders speculated that MTV might move on rather than re-up the clan. Twenty new episodes will start airing in early winter 2004. Meanwhile, Ozzy Osbourne revealed he doesn’t watch his own show. “Why would I want to watch me watching me?” he asked. MTV also announced a new celebrity reality series, “Newlyweds,” starring husband-and-wife pop singers Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. The show will chronicle the couple’s first year of marriage.
HBO Takes `K Street’
HBO announced a new half-hour original series, “K Street,” that blends news footage with improvised performances to give a behind-the-scenes look at Capitol Hill dealmaking. The series is executive produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, and features Mary Matalin and James Carville playing advisers in a fictional Washington consulting firm. “K Street” plans an intense production schedule in which shows are shot one week before airing to explore current news topics. The series debuts in September.
Turner Pledges More Original Series
While saying it is premature to discuss specifics, Turner President Mark Lazarus and TBS Chairman and CEO Phil Kent promised to develop more original series for the TNT and TBS brands. “We know that a big part of our mission going forward is to accelerate our efforts in the original-series business, and we’re starting to spend a lot of time out here [in Los Angeles] now doing that,” Mr. Kent said. “My guess is we will do at least one to two [new series].”
Green Lights
Martin Scorsese has agreed to executive produce a miniseries called “The Twelve” for the Sci Fi Channel; USA Network has ordered “Touching Evil” to series; AMC announced production of original movie “Hidden in the Heartland: The Eric Rudolph Story;” Trio will launch celebrity-driven “24 w/” and Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox will guest-star in Lifetime’s upcoming “1-800-MISSING.” Sci Fi’s “The Twelve,” about an FBI agent’s investigation of a bizarre series of events that may be the sign of an impending apocalypse, will air in 2005. USA’s “Touching Evil” is about a detective whose brush with death leaves him fearless in his pursuit of criminals. It will be executive produced by filmmakers Allen and Albert Hughes and will join the network’s prime-time schedule in early 2004. AMC’s “Hidden in the Heartland” is based on the manhunt for the accused 1996 Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph. Mr. Fox will appear in five episodes of Lifetime’s new drama series “1-800-MISSING.” Trio’s “24 w/,” set to debut in October, follows 24 hours in the life of a celebrity.
Cable Color
Actor Edward James Olmos veered wildly off-script during a panel for Sci Fi’s remake of the 1970s cult favorite “Battlestar Galactica”: “I know that the Sci Fi Channel wants to say that everybody’s going to enjoy it. They’re not,” Mr. Olmos said to surprised laughter and applause. “If you’re a real, real staunch [fan of the original] `Battlestar Galactica,’ please don’t watch it. Don’t watch it, because it will hurt.” Groaned Sci Fi President Bonnie Hammer: “Kill me now.” Meanwhile, George Clooney, appearing live via satellite from New York in support of HBO’s “K-Street,” began the session by speaking soundlessly for several seconds, resulting in executive panic, before saying, “Just kidding.” Over at Turner’s CNN panel, in which executives and anchors were repeatedly quizzed about losing ratings to Fox News, a large “Turner” sign collapsed loudly to the ground. “What do you make of that sign falling?” asked a questioner. “Absolutely nothing!” said Paula Zahn.