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Aug 14, 2003  •  Post A Comment

NBC Orders ‘Come to Papa’

NBC has ordered six episodes of the sitcom “Come to Papa” for midseason. “Papa” stars comedian Tom Papa and is based on his stand-up routine. Mr. Papa plays an aspiring writer in New Jersey who thinks he’s better than everyone else, yet has only moved a few miles away from where he grew up. The series, from Warner Bros. Television, was written and executive produced by former “Friends” writer Greg Malins. Andy Ackerman also executive produces.

CCTA Pulls Plug on The Western Show: Citing weakening attendance and industry consolidation, the California Cable & Telecommunications Association is pulling the plug on The Western Show after this year’s event in December.

The association blamed market conditions and the need by cable operators, suppliers and programmers to cut costs, which it said made it difficult for the industry to support two national industry conferences. The National Show, produced by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, will now be the industry’s sole annual conference.

To mark the 36th Western Show, scheduled for Dec. 2-5 in Anaheim, Calif., conference producers said a number of industry leaders are slated to participate, including Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Cox Communications President Jim Robbins.

Comcast Drops Out of VUE Bidding: Vivendi Universal’s plan to sell its Vivendi Universal Entertainment unit just suffered a setback, as yet another potential bidder has opted not to bid on the assets.

Cable giant Comcast on Thursday said it does not intend to bid on VUE, which includes a film studio, a television production company and cable channels USA, Sci Fi and Trio.

In a one-sentence statement, the Philadelphia-based multiple system operator said, “Comcast announced today that it does not intend to bid for the Vivendi Universal Entertainment assets.” A spokesman declined to elaborate on the company’s decision.

Vivendi has asked interested parties to submit new bids by Monday.

With Comcast out, the most likely bidders include General Electric’s NBC unit and a team lead by Vivendi Vice Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr.

Comcast had been seen as a last-minute contender for VUE, which has been in play for the better part of this year. The company two weeks ago confirmed that it had begun a preliminary analysis of the assets, and even tapped former Universal Studios chief Frank Biondi to help value the assets.

However, many experts said all along it was unlikely Comcast would be willing to step up with an offer, in large part because the company has been keen on paying down debt and is focused on digesting its mammoth acquisition last year of AT&T Broadband.

Paris-based Vivendi had as many as six suitors interested in the assets earlier this summer, but over the past several weeks many have dropped out because Vivendi’s asking price of $14 billion was deemed too high.

Jesse Ventura Show Scheduled to Air This Fall: The long-awaited Jesse Ventura show is now headed to Saturdays on MSNBC some time this fall, and the 9 p.m. weeknight time slot on MSNBC has been won by the resurrected “The Abrams Report.” The Dan Abrams-hosted crime-focused “Report” was canceled as an afternoon show in a lineup overhaul last spring but has grown viewership in its prime-time hour, where it ranked as the youngest-skewing prime-time program on cable news’ MSNBC, CNN or the Fox News Channel in July.

Mr. Ventura’s show, which MSNBC had once considered the key to prime-time growth, will originate from Minnesota, where he served one term as governor. He is expected to give his “take on the week’s events” on Saturdays and appear as an analyst on various MSNBC shows throughout the week.

“After months of development work testing various program concepts, Jesse and I have agreed that this is the best venue for his unconventional approach to politics and television,” said MSNBC President and General Manager Erik Sorenson in a statement. “I’m delighted to conclude the development process now and get Jesse’s extraordinary talent on the screen on a regular basis, in time for the new television season.”

Mr. Ventura’s statement declared his belief that Saturday “is perfect for me. It’s not as confining as weeknight programming and will allow me more freedom to strut my stuff and make my case. We’re heading into another important election year and obviously I represent millions of American news viewers who don’t feel well represented by the current two-party system!”

Kids’ WB! Fall Lineup to Debut Sept. 13: If Kids’ WB!’s fall slate looks familiar, that’s because all of the network’s series are returning this year. Kids’ WB!’s Saturday morning lineup will premiere Sept. 13. The lineup is: “What’s New Scooby Doo?” at 8 a.m. (ET), “Yu-Gi-Oh!” at 8:30 a.m., “Jackie Chan Adventures” at 9 a.m., “Ozzy & Drix” at 9:30 a.m., “Pokemon: Advanced” at 10 a.m., “Mucha Lucha” at 10:30 a.m., “Yu-Gi-Oh,” at 11 a.m. and “X-Men: Evolution” at 11:30 a.m. Kids’ WB! will kick off its Monday-through-Friday lineup starting Monday, Sept. 15. The weekday lineup is “Scooby Doo” at 3 p.m., “Jackie Chan Adventures” at 3:30 p.m., “Pokemon” at 4 p.m. and “Yu-Gi-Oh” at 4:30 p.m.

‘Big Brother’ Wins Demo: CBS’s “Big Brother” and Fox’s “Paradise Hotel” were the big winners Wednesday night. “Brother” was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.9 rating and 12 share and “Paradise” was No. 2 with a 3.5/11, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. But not all reality was working last night. ABC’s “The Real Roseanne Show” turned in a dismal 1.8/5, dropping a half a ratings point at the half-hour. Its lead-out “The Family” scored a 1.8/6.

For the night, Fox won in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.3/11, followed by CBS (3.0/10), NBC (2.2/7) and ABC (2.1/7). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 9.2 million, followed by Fox (6.5 million), NBC (6.2 million) and ABC (5.1 million).

MAP Asks FCC to Stall Ownership Rules: The Media Access Project has asked the federal appeals court in Philadelphia to stay the Federal Communications Commission’s new media ownership rules, pending judicial review of challenges to the regulations. In a filing yesterday with the court, MAP said that without a stay, the new regulations will go into effect Sept. 4, and “massive consolidation of the broadcast industry will occur before judicial review can be completed.”

MAP also asked the court to throw out the FCC’s new regulations. Challenges to the new regulations have been filed in the federal appeals courts in Washington and New York. So a determination of where the case against the rules is heard will be decided by lottery. Insiders believe it would be better for FCC critics to get their case heard in a court outside Washington because the Washington appeals court has been harshly critical of media ownership regulations.