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Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NBC Cancels ‘Frasier’

NBC’s “Frasier” will end its 11-year run this May. “This is the end,” NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker declared Monday at a Television Critics Association panel on the “Frasier” set in Hollywood with cast members and executive producers.

Most observers expected the Paramount-produced sitcom to end with this season, but until now the door was always open a crack for it to return. Executive producer and series star Kelsey Grammer said at the end of last season that the producers and cast members got together and decided that this season would be its last. “It’s the right time to say goodbye,” Mr. Grammer said, declining to say whether financial issues had anything to do with the show’s cancellation.

The show took a hit in the ratings last year, when it had little support from series around it. But it has rebounded this year, and NBC is still in desperate need of sitcoms with “Friends” ending. However, because of the large license fee agreement for “Frasier,” it is the only show on the network that isn’t profitable, a source said.

Regardless of whether NBC wanted the show back, executive producers and creators Peter Casey and David Lee said they had no desire to continue into a 12th year. David Angell, who died Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, was also a creator of the show.

Executive producers said they don’t have a grand plan as to how the show will end. “We don’t have a clue how we’re going to end,” said executive producer Chris Lloyd. The finale will most likely be an hour long. NBC is expected to announce more details about the finale and its scheduling at its TCA presentation Wednesday.

The end of “Frasier” will mark 20 years of Mr. Grammer playing the role of Frasier Crane, which originated on another NBC hit, “Cheers.” Mr. Zucker said of Mr. Grammer, “He’s been the single most important person to NBC the past 20 years.”

As NBC prepares to launch another high-profile spinoff next fall in “Joey,” starring Matt LeBlanc of “Friends,” “Frasier’s” executive producers discussed what they were trying to accomplish with the “Cheers” spinoff 11 years ago. Producers first decided to move the show to Seattle, as far away from Boston as possible, to make it different from “Cheers.” They also decided to lose the establishing shots of an apartment building or the radio station between scenes and instead use cards.

The got rid of the sitcom convention of having a “jaunty score,” as Mr. Lee put it, and chose not to have music. And finally, writers were instructed to write the longest scenes possible to get out of the conventional sitcom pattern. “We tried not to write down to the audience,” Mr. Lee said. “No stupid jokes. No stupid characters.”

Mr. Lee said the biggest difference between creating a sitcom today and 11 years ago is the increasing corporate influence in the industry. Executives occupying creative positions at the broadcast networks are increasingly businessmen and don’t have creative backgrounds.

Griffiths Leaves MGM For Playboy: Jim Griffiths has left his position as president of MGM Worldwide Television Distribution and joined Playboy Enterprises in a newly created senior executive VP position. The move was announced by both companies Monday.

Mr. Griffiths, 49, spent six years as MGM president, during which he oversaw the global distribution of movies and television programs, expanding MGM’s reach from 25 to 108 countries in the past two years. Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of Playboy, said Mr. Griffiths will be charged with helping expand the company’s international television efforts.

“Playboy’s global brand recognition gives it a unique status in an increasingly complex and fragmented entertainment industry,” Mr. Griffiths said. “The company’s strong management team and the opportunities across its business lines make this an even more attractive position, and I am pleased at this chance to work with Christie and her team to create additional value.”

Three veteran MGM executives have taken over Mr. Griffiths’ responsibilities-Jim Packer, Simon Sutton and Bruce Tuchman.

Pentagon Awards al-Iraqiya Contract to Harris Corp.: The Pentagon has awarded a $96 million contract to Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris Corp., a communications equipment maker, to run Saddam Hussein’s old television and radio network, now called al-Iraqiya, for the next 12 months, the Washington Post reported.

Harris Corp. also will operate the national newspaper formerly run by Mr. Hussein’s son Uday, Howard L. Lance, chairman of the company, told the Post.

Partnered with Harris Corp. in the endeavor are the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. and a Kuwaiti publishing and telecommunications company, Al-Fawares. Harris will manage the project and supply the equipment. LBC will supply electronic programming and conduct training. Al-Fawares will run the paper and train its journalists.

In the months since the Hussein government fell in April 2003, the paper and broadcast stations have been operated by Science Applications International Corp., a U.S. defense contractor.

‘Survivor: All Stars’ Contestants Announced: CBS announced today the 18 former castaways who will return for the eighth edition of the hit reality show called “Survivor: All Stars”. The contestants will include four previous champions, including the first winner, Richard Hatch.

Cast members will be divided into three teams and will compete for the title of “Ultimate Sole Survivor” off the coast of Panama. The returning cast members and team names are:

Chapera: Amber Brkich; “Survivor: Outback”; Tom Buchanan, “Survivor: Africa”; Alicia Calaway, “Survivor: Outback”; Rob Cesternino, “Survivor: Amazon”; Susan Hawk, “Survivor: Pulau Tiga”; and Rob Mariano, “Survivor: Marquesas.”

Saboga: Rudy Boesch “Survivor: Pulau Tiga”; Rupert Boneham “Survivor: Pearl Islands”; Jenna Lewis, “Survivor: Pulau Tiga”; Jerri Manthey, “Survivor: Outback”; Tina Wesson, “Survivor: Outback”; and Ethan Zohn, “Survivor: Africa.”

Mogo Mogo: Colby Donaldson, “Survivor: Outback”; Richard Hatch, “Survivor: Pulau Tiga”; Shii Ann Huang, “Survivor: Thailand”; Jenna Morasca, “Survivor: Amazon”; Lex van den Berghe, “Survivor: Africa”; Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien, “Survivor: Marquesas.”

“Survivor: All Stars” will premiere Feb. 1 immediately after the Super Bowl XXXVIII on CBS.

Former Belo Exec Marty Haag Jr. Dead at 69: Marty Haag Jr., the longtime Belo Corp. news executive who cast a long shadow and a lot of light over the local news landscape nationally, died Saturday after a short illness. He was 69.

Mr. Haag, who taught and served as a consultant after he retired in 2000 as senior VP of news for Belo, worked earlier as national assignment editor at NBC News, executive news director at WKYC-TV in Cleveland and at KTTV-TV in Los Angeles and assistant news director at WCBS-TV.

One of his biggest accomplishments was taking the news department at Belo’s WFAA-TV in Dallas, which he joined as executive news director in 1973, from small and local to nationally respected and the recipient of the most prestigious awards in broadcast journalism.

Girard Named Shop at Home President: Judy Girard is moving from Scripps’ Food Network, where she has been president since 2000, to the same position at Shop at Home Networks, acquired by Scripps in 2002. Ms. Girard will continue as head of Food Network until a successor is named. Ms. Girard will replace Frank Woods, who becomes chairman.

Fuse Launches Super Bowl Contest: Fuse is launching a Super Bowl contest with the top prize a home visit by rapper Bubba Sparxxx the day of the game (during which MTV will present the halftime show). The prizewinner will have a barbecue party for 25 friends, plus prizes, including a JVC plasma TV, a Microsoft Xbox and video games from EA Sports.

CES Posts Record Attendance: The 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas wrapped up Sunday with a record 129,328 attendees, 2,491 exhibitors and 1.38 million square feet of exhibit space. The Consumer Electronics Association said 1,290 companies have already signed up for 1.27 million net square feet of exh
ibit space for next year’s convention.NewsView´ 2000 Library Infobase