News Briefs

Oct 13, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Tom Kane is out as general manager of WABC-TV in New York in an abrupt turn of events that caught the largest market in the country off-guard. A spokesperson for ABC, for which Mr. Kane worked for some 30 years, declined to comment on the departure last week of a man widely regarded as a good guy and a good manager. Sources at the ABC flagship station said staffers were stunned by the development. The sources expect a successor to be named soon.
`That ’70s Show’ Gets Seventh Season
Fox has renewed “That ’70s Show” for a seventh season. The new deal with producer Carsey-Werner-Mandabach will keep the show on the air through the 2004-05 season. All the major cast members are already signed for a seventh season. When “American Idol” joined Fox’s schedule in January, `”70s Show” moved to Wednesday nights and saw its ratings increase. Last season, `”70s Show” averaged a 5.3 rating in adults 18 to 49, up 10 percent from the previous year, and 10.4 million total viewers, up 15 percent.
FCC May Beef Up License Renewal Process
Top Federal Communications Commission officials last week were said to be considering a proposal aimed at beefing up the agency’s license renewal procedures to improve broadcasters’ responsiveness to their communities. Sources said the proposal was expected to be included in an inquiry on broadcast localism that is slated for release within the next several weeks.
Arnold Biopic, Sci Fi Minis in the Works
A&E has given the thumbs-up to a biopic of Arnold Schwarzenegger, following the action movie star’s victory in the California gubernatorial race last week. And following its success with “Taken,” Sci Fi Channel is once more teaming with Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Television and writer Les Bohem. The Sci Fi crew has united to create a trilogy of related miniseries under the banner “Nine Lives,” slated to launch in 2005. The A&E movie about Mr. Schwarzenegger will be produced by Gerald Abrams and Michael Goldstein.
MTV Sets Up `Rich Girls,’ Issues Renewals
MTV plans to launch a new series, “Rich Girls,” Oct. 28 at 10:30 p.m. The eight-episode series follows two privileged New York City teenagers, Ally Hilfiger and Jaime Gleicher. The project was brought to MTV by Ms. Hilfiger and Ms. Gleicher, who also serve as producers. “Rich Girls” documents their lives as they go to their prom, party, graduate, shop and spend the summer in New York City and travel to Mercer Island (Seattle); Greenwich, Conn.; The Hamptons; Mustique; London; and Nantucket. In other MTV programming news, the cable network has renewed “Newlyweds,” starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. The show has been a surprise success for the network due to Ms. Simpson’s forehead-smacking, self-described “blond moments.” MTV also renewed Snoop Dogg’s “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle,” despite the program’s less-than-stellar ratings, and “Road Rules,” which will return for its 13th season.
Fox Buys Makeover Series
Fox is jumping into the makeover game. It has bought a competitive full-life makeover series called “The Swan” from FremantleMedia. Female contestants age 22 to 38 will compete in beauty-pageant style for the title of “The Swan” after they have made over their lives with the help of plastic surgeons, hairstylists, makeup artists, style consultants, speech therapists and other life coaches. Episodes will be shot in early 2004. FremantleMedia produces the Fox hit “American Idol.”