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Oct 30, 2003  •  Post A Comment

ABC Picks Up Freshman Shows

ABC gave full-season orders to all of its freshman sitcoms and two freshman dramas. “Hope & Faith,” “I’m With Her,” “It’s All Relative,” “Married to the Kellys,” “10-8” and “Threat Matrix” all received back-nine episode orders, bringing their season totals up to 22 episodes.

This marks the second year in a row that ABC has picked up all of its new sitcoms for a full season. “We’re immensely proud to have successfully launched 10 new comedies in just two and a half seasons,” said ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne. “ABC’s record in the comedy arena remains unparalleled.” Wednesday night drama “Karen Sisco” is the only new show that hasn’t received a full-season pickup, but ABC has ordered four additional scripts.

Dennis Miller Gets CNBC Talk Show: Dennis Miller is getting an hour-long weeknight talk show on CNBC in January, after the expiration of the comedian-commentator’s commitment as a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes,” under a multi-year deal that makes Mr. Miller exclusive to CNBC.

Mr. Miller will be executive producer of the show, which will be produced by and at NBC Studios in Burbank.

“With all that’s going on in the world today, it’s nice to have a nightly platform to air my opinions,” said Mr. Miller, who was a regular on “Saturday Night Live” from 1985 to 1991, in the announcement Thursday. “I’m happy to be back in the NBC family.”

“Dennis’ blazing wit and razor-sharp insights have made him one of the most provocative and noted voices of our time. We are thrilled that he has chosen CNBC as his new prime-time home,” said CNBC President and CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham, who recently talked to TelevisionWeek about her plans for appealing to the business-news network’s core audience of financial and business professionals. “Our audience demands smart and sharp programming, and Dennis’ new show will more than deliver on those expectations.”

“Having Dennis Miller return to the NBC family is one of the most exciting things to happen to us in years,” said Jeff Zucker, the NBC Entertainment president who oversees NBC Studios. “His wit, uncanny takes on life and fearlessness have made him a popular figure-and this is the next logical step in his brilliant career.”

Mr. Miller’s first experience at hosting a talk show, the syndicated “The Dennis Miller Show,” was shuttered partway through the 1992-93 season, despite high praise from influential critics. He ranted on HBO’s Emmy-winning “Dennis Miller Live” from 1994 to 2002. In 2000, he was hired for what would prove to be two seasons in the “Monday Night Football” booth.

His acting resumÈ includes a current guest arc on Fox Broadcasting’s “Boston Public” and roles in “Murder at 1600” and “Disclosure.”

KEYT Bob Smith Dead at 59: Bob Smith, owner of KEYT Santa Barbara, died in his home on Oct. 28 of cancer. He was 59. Mr. Smith had worked in the White House during the Carter administration and was due to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara News Press. He is survived by his wife, Anne, and two children, Jennifer and Michael.

‘O.C.’ Comes Back Strong for Fox: Summer drama “The O.C.” returned to Fox Wednesday night with its best numbers ever in total viewers and adults 18 to 34. “The O.C.” drew 9.2 million viewers and a 5.6/15 in adults 18 to 34, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

“The O.C.” scored a 4.2/10 in adults 18 to 49. While it finished in third place in its time slot, it was a very competitive performance against ABC’s “The Bachelor” (6.4/16), which attracted its largest audience so far this season, and NBC’s “The West Wing” (4.4/11).

Also good news for Fox was the season premiere of “That ’70s Show” at 8 p.m., which won adults 18 to 49 with a 5.1/14-28 percent ahead of ABC’s second-place “My Wife and Kids” (4.0/11). New sitcom “A Minute With Stan Hooper” at 8:30 p.m. pulled a second-place 3.7/10 in the demo, falling to ABC’s “It’s All Relative” (4.1/11). “Hooper” retained 73 percent of “That ’70s Show’s” adults 18 to 49 audience.

While Fox came in third for the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.3/11 and fourth in total viewers with 8.9 million, it was Fox’s highest-rated Wednesday night, excluding sports, in five months in the demo and total viewers.

In total viewers, CBS won the 8 p.m. hour with “60 Minutes” (12.5 million), ABC won the 9 p.m. hour with “The Bachelor” (14.1 million) and NBC won the 10 p.m. hour with “Law & Order” (16.3 million).

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.6/12, followed by ABC (4.5/12), Fox (4.3/11), CBS (3.0/8), The WB (2.5/6) and UPN (1.3/3). In total viewers, NBC won with 12.7 million, followed by CBS (11.2 million), ABC (10.9 million), Fox (8.9 million), The WB (5.8 million) and UPN (3.1 million).

Omnimedia Experiences Q3 Loss: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia today announced a third-quarter loss of $3.8 million, or 8 cents a share, down from a profit of $2.8 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. The company continues to labor under a dark cloud as its founder awaits her trial for insider trading.

Revenue at the lifestyle company tumbled 28 percent to $51.2 million from $70.9 million a year ago, driven by lower revenue at the company’s publishing unit.

The company’s television unit produced a 3 percent increase in revenue to $6.6 million, thanks to higher advertising rates, which offset lower ratings. Operating income before depreciation and amortization tumbled 87 percent to $200,000 for the quarter, while the division was at break-even on the profit side. The company attributed the results to higher production costs associated with the nationally syndicated daily show “Martha Stewart Living.”

LIN Reports Rise in Profits: Television station owner LIN TV today reported a 4 percent jump in third-quarter profit to $6.1 million, or 12 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $5.9 million, or 12 cents a share, as the company cut interest expenses through debt refinancings and increased cash distributions tied to the company’s joint venture with NBC.

Revenue slipped nearly 7 percent to $85.8 million, hurt by the decline in political advertising spending compared with a year ago.

Despite the slowdown in political spending, LIN officials said their 24 television stations continue to perform well. They added that when the political spending effect is removed from the numbers, the impact of a lagging economy pushed revenue down just 1 percent.

Looking ahead, the company said advertising in the fourth quarter is pacing “slightly ahead” when compared with nonpolitical advertising in the 2002 fourth quarter. However, the company projects that fourth-quarter revenue will fall between 9 percent and 14 percent due to the absence of political advertising, while the operating income range for the full year is $81 million to $86 million.