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Sep 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

‘Whoopi,’ ‘Happy Family’ Help NBC Win Demo

“Whoopi” performed so well on its first outing at 8 p.m. Tuesdays that NBC is going to repeat the half-hour at 9:30 tonight (Thursday, Sept. 11). “Whoopi Goldberg’s appeal cannot be denied,” said NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker.

Fast nationals from Nielsen Media Research showed that “Whoopi” attracted approximately 14.7 million total viewers and scored a 4.8 rating/16 share in the 18 to 49 demo that advertisers want. The latter performance was NBC’s highest in the time slot for regularly scheduled programming in nearly three years. It was the highest total viewership in the half-hour since Jan. 20, 1998.

At 8:30, “Happy Family” debuted slightly down from its lead-in in total viewership (14.5 million) and a slight uptick in the rating in the 18 to 49 demo (to 5.0/15). The latter was NBC’s best performance in the time slot with regular programming since March 5, 2002. The viewer total was NBC’s highest in the time slot since Feb. 26, 2002.

The fast start helped push a repeat “Frasier” to 9.8 million viewers and a 3.4/9 in the demo (an increase of 48 percent from the previous week. At 9:30 p.m., “Good Morning, Miami” retained 74 percent of its “Frasier” lead-in. “Law & Order: SVU” had 10.1 million viewers and a 3.5/10 in the demo from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., the series’ second-best showing in the time slot. NBC finished the night with a preliminary performance of 3.8/11 in the 18 to 49 demo, followed by Fox (3.3/9), CBS (2.9/8) and ABC (2.6/7). In total viewers, the preliminary averages showed NBC with 11.0 million; CBS 7.5 million, Fox 7.2 million and ABC 6.6 million.

Tribune Stations to Air Syndicated ‘Sex’: As expected, Tribune Broadcasting has finally reached a deal with Warner Bros. to air the off-cable runs of HBO’s “Sex and the City.” The series will make its syndicated debut in September 2005 as a six-day-a-week strip.

“‘Sex and the City’ is the quintessential appointment viewing television series, drawing an incredible audience comp of upscale, young viewers who, up until now, have not been available to advertisers,” said Dick Robertson, president, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “While only available in a third of U.S. homes, the series oftentimes out-rates the six broadcast networks on Sunday nights and has an unbelievable repeat retention, which will prove invaluable for a successful off-network run.”

The deal will clear the series in a slew of major markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“‘Sex and the City’ has been one of the strongest half-hour comedies on television, and it is easily the best new comedy coming into the syndication marketplace” said Pat Mullen, president of Tribune Broadcasting. “Our strategy is to acquire the best sitcoms for our local stations, and we have a long and successful track record, including ‘Friends,’ ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’ ‘Sex and the City’ makes the daily access and late fringe programming at our 26 television stations across the country even stronger.”

Cosby to Receive Bob Hope Humanitarian Award: Bill Cosby will be presented with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the “55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.” Oprah Winfrey was the first recipient of the award at last year’s Emmys. Ray Romano will present the award at the ceremonies.

“With Bob Hope’s passing from the scene so recently, it’s more important than ever to see the torch passed to others who embody his commitment to good works,” said Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. “Bill Cosby, like Hope, has not only made Americans laugh over a long career but he has also used his stardom to shine a light on strengthening the family values which make our country great. He’s the right man at the right time to receive this year’s award.”

‘Buchanan & Press’ to Broadcast Live from ‘K Street’ Premiere: MSNBC’s “Buchanan & Press” will broadcast live from the premiere of the new HBO show, “K Street,” Friday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. Liberal co-host Bill Press will host from the red carpet at the Palm restaurant in Washington.

The much-awaited show, which debuts on HBO Sunday, blurs reality and imagination in inspired-by-current-events stories about inner workings of Washington. George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, who are the executive producers of the show, along with husband-and-wife political operatives, James Carville and Mary Matalin, will be on hand.

Spike TV’s ‘Joe Schmo’ Grows: After a middling ratings debut, Spike TV’s reality show parody “The Joe Schmo Show” enjoyed a significant increase during its second episode Tuesday night. The show was viewed by 1.2 million viewers (900,000 households), up 45 percent from the previous week. The net’s target demos, men 18 to 34 and 18 to 49, increased by 25 and 40 percent, respectively.

The network for men also touted an overall increase in male viewers during Joe’s time period since the rebranding. “In men 18 to 49 we’ve increased 102 percent; and in men 18 to 34 we’ve increased a whopping 259 percent,” said a spokesperson.

Levin Named HRTS President: The Hollywood Radio & Television Society has named Entertainment President of The WB Network, Jordan Levin to a one-year stint as president of the organization. Mr. Levin will succeed FX entertainment president Kevin Reilly.

Mr. Levin will spearhead a makeover of the organization this year that will include the addition of new events this year such as a roast ceremony and breakfast discussion as well as the annual luncheon with the network entertainment presidents.

Seven new HRTS members were also elected to three-year terms on the board of directors: Craig Erwich, executive VP, programming, at Fox Broadcasting Co.; Paul Haas, head of TV packaging at Endeavor; Garry Hart, president of Paramount TV Prods.; Russ Krasnoff, president of programming and production at Sony Pictures TV; Chris Silbermann, partner at Broder-Webb-Chervin-Silbermann; Carolyn Strauss, executive VP original programming at HBO; and WorldLink CEO Toni Erickson Knight.

Twentieth Moves Forward with ‘On Air’: Twentieth Television has found a location, more stations and a name for its January strip. “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” has added Viacom-owned stations in San Francisco (KBHK-TV), Miami (WBFS-TV) and Indianapolis (WNDY-TV); Sinclair-owned WCWB-TV in Pittsburgh; Meredith-owned KPDX-TV in Portland, Ore., Bay City-owned XETV in San Diego; and Raycom-owned WXIX-TV in Cincinnati to its clearance lists, joining the Fox owned-and-operated station group.

In addition, the series has found a home at the Hollywood and Highland complex, which will provide the show with occupancy of the facility’s 12,000-square-foot production space immediately adjacent to the Kodak Theatre, nightclubs, restaurants and specialty shops. The multistory glass studio will give spectators an opportunity to view the program during taping and to gather in the massive outdoor courtyard area to enjoy special live events and performances that the show will host.

“The title, ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’, reflects the live, spontaneous and contemporary aspects of what the show will offer audiences live on a daily basis. The location, Hollywood and Highland, is the perfect venue to attract entertainment’s biggest celebrities and their fans,” said Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television. “Stations are quickly adding Ryan to their highly visible early fringe time slots.”

TNT Launches NBA Campaign: TNT on Wednesday said it is launching a million-dollar campaign to promote the upcoming cable channel’s National Basketball Association coverage, hiring director and producer Spike Lee to produce the spots.

The campaign, which is called “Let the Truth Be Told” and will star NBA All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal, Ben Wallace and Jason Kidd and 2003 NBA top draft pick LeBron James, will feature the athletes with youngsters who deliver basketball truths about the upcoming season. TNT will begin covering the NBA season on Oct. 28. The ads will appear on various Turner networks, regional and national print publications, billboards, spot cable
and radio, through direct mail and on the Web.

Mr. Lee’s company, SpikeDDB, was selected over six other production outfits to handle the spots.

Engineer Charged With Wire Fraud: A former engineer at Hearst-Argyle-owned KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo., was arrested Sept. 8 after an FBI investigation and was charged by the U.S. attorney in Kansas with two counts of wire fraud.

Jerry Lee Dixon, 51, is accused of having obtained electronic equipment and supplies for his privately owned company but having passed on the costs to Hearst-Argyle by submitting altered stolen blank invoices. The value of the illegally obtained goods over nearly three years was more than $1.5 million, according to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. Mr. Dixon, who was let go by KMBC late last year, is scheduled to appear Oct. 20 in U.S. District Court. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years without parole for each count.

WPIX Sports Anchor Sean Kimerling Dead at 37: Sean Kimerling, the Emmy-winning weekend sports anchor for Tribune-owned WPIX-TV in New York, died Tuesday, less than a month after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was 37. He had signed on at WPIX in late 1997.

Mr. Kimerling, who returned to his native New York after working similar jobs in Texas and Oklahoma, also appeared on WPIX weekday news broadcasts as substitute for weekday sports anchor Sal Marchiano and served as a commentator and reporter on WPIX broadcasts of New York Mets baseball games.

Mr. Kimerling won an Emmy for his work on WPIX broadcasts of New York Mets games. The Mets observed his death with a moment of silence before the national anthem was played at Tuesday’s game.

“We will miss him,” said WPIX News Director Karen Scott, who hired him six years ago.

There was no word early Wednesday about funeral arrangements. He is survived by his parents, a brother and a sister.

Programming Costs May Affect Starz Encore Group Profits: Liberty Media’s Starz Encore Group unit will likely see its profits fall, thanks to programming costs that could surge up to $225 million in 2004, Liberty warned Wednesday.

Starz blamed the rising programming costs on expected box office performance of movies that pay-TV service would be buying next year as well as the service’s plan to buy more movies as part of its programming strategy. The company expects programming costs to increase between $175 million and $225 million in 2004 and by the same amount in 2005.

Complicating matters further is the ongoing legal battle Starz has with cable giant Comcast. Their legal tussle centers on whether former AT&T Broadband cable systems, which Comcast now owns, should pay the lower rates that Comcast pays or the higher rates that AT&T Broadband negotiated with Starz before Comcast acquired the cable systems.

The uncertainty over how the litigation will turn out means Starz cannot pass on the higher programming costs to Comcast.