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Jan 29, 2004  •  Post A Comment

SÌ TV Hires Leon as VP of Production

SÌ TV, a Latino-themed English-language network set to launch Feb. 25, has hired producer Edward Leon as VP of production, the network announced Wednesday. Mr. Leon’s producing credits include “The Other Half” and “The Montel Williams Show.”

The network also announced its programming slate, which includes “I Can’t Believe It’s Cinema,” which takes really retro Mexican movies and re-edits them into 30-minute shows with a new scripted English-language audio track, and “the rub” a half-hour talk show that explores all aspects of dating and relationships.

J. Lo Grabs ‘Tralala’: Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions has acquired the French variety show “Le Grand Tralala” for domestic production. In each episode, a celebrity will be thrust into the spotlight to host a newly formatted entertainment show before a live audience without preparation. Ms. Lopez appeared on the original version in France.

“After appearing on the show in France, I knew I wanted to be involved with bringing ‘Le Grand Tralala’ to the States,” Ms. Lopez said in a statement. “I felt such a rush with the live audience — it was both a challenging and rewarding experience, especially having to perform off the cuff with no prep time.”

IATSE Reaches Agreements: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached an agreement with three talk shows, the union announced this week. The three shows are “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” and SoapNet’s “Soap Talk.”

“These are the types of productions that are a priority for the IA organizers who are working to assure our members receive job protection, including pension and health benefits,” said IATSE President Tom Short.

IATSE also garnered collective bargaining rights for free-lance sports and broadcast technicians working on professional and college sports broadcasts in Arizona.

Telepictures Announces Sale of ‘Elder Show’: As expected, Telepictures has announced the sale of upcoming talk show “The Larry Elder Show” to the Viacom Stations Group for launch this fall. In addition, the upcoming series has been handed a “firm go” by the distributor.

The Viacom Television Stations Group has licensed the show to air on its duopoly stations in Los Angeles (KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV), Philadelphia (KYW-TV and WPSG-TV), San Francisco (KPIX-TV and KBHK-TV), Boston (WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV), Dallas (KTVT-TV and KTXA-TV), Detroit (WWJ-TV and WKBD-TV), Miami (WFOR-TV and WBFS-TV) and Pittsburgh (KDKA-TV and WNPA-TV), its CBS station in Chicago (WBBM-TV) and its UPN stations in Atlanta (WUPA-TV), Norfolk, Va., (WGNT-TV) and New Orleans (WUPL-TV).

New York remains a key player in upcoming negotiations, with many observers awaiting the fate of “Living It Up! With Ali & Jack” and “Martha Stewart Living” to determine time slots that could open for the Telepictures talk show on WCBS-TV.

GSN Raises Blackjack Bet: It’s still more than a month before the debut of GSN’s “World Series of Blackjack,” but already the network is announcing two spinoffs-“World Blackjack Tour” and “Celebrity Blackjack.” Both programs are scheduled to premiere this summer.

“We just finished taping the ‘World Series of Blackjack’ from Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and each game was incredibly suspenseful through the last hand played,” said Rich Cronin, president and CEO of GSN. “We are thrilled to be adding to GSN’s blackjack franchise by creating these new tournaments.”

“Celebrity Blackjack” will feature the entertainment industry’s top 25 blackjack players, who will compete to earn money for their favorite charities. “World Blackjack Tour” will take place at top casinos in the United States and other countries.

DeTillio Named WTGO VP: Broadcasting veteran Frank DeTillio has been named VP and general manager of UPN station WTOG-TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg. He succeeds Mike Conway, who will retire in February.

“Frank’s experience in both sales and operations makes him uniquely qualified for this position,” said Dennis Swanson, executive VP and chief operating officer of the Viacom Television Stations Group. “He has a long history of success in our industry, including nine years in Tampa-St. Petersburg, where he ran the market’s No. 1 station and owned and operated his own radio station. He is a gifted sales and station executive and I’m confident he will continue to grow WTOG’s ratings and revenue.”

Mr. DeTillio was most recently VP and general manager of WBMA-TV, the Albritton-owned ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. He previously served as VP and general manager of Meredith-owned Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV-TV, while also overseeing operations of Meredith’s Fox affiliate WHNS-TV in Greenville, S.C., and CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Mo. Before that, he owned and operated his own radio station in Tampa-St. Petersburg (1991-1995) after serving for five years in the same market as the VP and general manager of Media General’s NBC affiliate WFLA-TV. His earlier career included positions with the now-defunct Taft Broadcasting Co.

Washington Post Co. Reports Decline in Q4 Profits: Washington Post Co., the newspaper group that also owns six network-affiliated televisions stations and a cable company, posted a 7 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit to $87.5 million, or $9.15 a share, from a year-earlier profit of $93.7 million, or $9.83 a share. The Washington-based company was hurt by stock-compensation expenses at its recently acquired education unit and an early-retirement charge. Revenue rose 13 percent to $785.5 million, mostly due to revenue growth at the company’s education, cable, magazine and newspaper divisions.

For the year, the company’s profit rose 18 percent to $241.1 million on a 10 percent jump in revenue to $2.8 billion.

The absence of political advertising spending and Olympics-related advertising in 2003 contributed to the television broadcasting division’s 12 percent drop in revenue to $87.9 million in the quarter and an 8 percent decline in revenue to $315.1 million for the year. Operating income fell 20 percent to $42.5 million for the quarter and 17 percent to $139.7 million for the year.

The company’s cable unit, Cable One, recorded a 7 percent increase in revenue for both the quarter and the year to $119.1 million and $459.4 million, respectively. Depreciation and amortization costs combined with increased programming expenses led to a 10 percent decline in operating income for the quarter. For the year, the division posted a 9 percent increase in operating income, largely due to Cable One’s growth in subscribers, which hit 720,800 at the end of December, up from 718,000 a year ago.

Reid to Depart Discovery Health: Bob Reid, general manager of Discovery Health, is leaving the network. Under Mr. Reid, the channel grew to about 50 million subscribers, but he disagreed with Discovery Networks U.S. President Billy Campbell on how to take the channel to the next level, according to a Discovery spokesperson.

Discovery is in talks with Mr. Reid about a production deal. Discovery Health programming chief Eileen O’Neill has been named interim general manger.

Mr. Reid is the second head of a Discovery Networks channel to leave in the past five weeks. The other was Animal Planet GM Michael Cascio.

‘Idol’ Pushes Fox to Another Nightly Win: The “American Idol” juggernaut rolled again Wednesday night, attracting an average of 28.3 million viewers, racking up an 11.9 rating/31 share in the 18-49 demo and leaving every other show on TV a distant also-ran, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.”Idol’s” nearest competitor its time slot in total viewers was CBS’s “60 Minutes II,” which attracted 10 million viewers and a 2.1/5 in the 18-49 demo.

Fox got little mileage out of a repeat of its hit “The O.C.” (8.5 million viewers, 2.6/6 in the demo) following “Idol,” but still finished the night with an easy win, averaging 18.4 million viewers and a 7.6/19 in the demo.

“The Bachelorette” (11.1 million, 5.0/12) gave a boost to ABC, which averaged 8.9 million viewers and 3.8/10 in the demo for the night.

NBC’s back-to-back repeats of “The Appr
entice” rustled up a small (6.6 million), gray (2.5/7 demo rating) audience against “Idol.” Even with a repeat of reliable “Law & Order” (14.3 million, 4.9/4), NBC finished the night with an average of 9.6 million viewers and a 3.3/9 in the demo.

CBS averaged 10.5 million viewers and 2.9/8 in the demo, followed by The WB (5 million, 2.1/5) and UPN (3 million, 1.1/3).

Gutteridge Named FremantleMedia CEO: Tom Gutteridge has been named to the newly created position of CEO of FremantleMedia North America, effective immediately.

Mr. Gutteridge was previously the group creative director of United Kingdom-based independent television production company The Television Corporation, where he led the company’s expansion into the United States with such shows as Fox’s “Paradise Hotel” and its forthcoming “Forever Eden.” He served as executive producer on the former and is working in the same capacity on the latter. He will assume his new position full time when production of “Forever Eden” wraps in the spring.

Mr. Gutteridge, who will be based in Los Angeles, will report to Catherine Mackay, FremantleMedia’s regional CEO, USA, Australasia and Asia. FremantleMedia’s U.S. production operation is responsible for Fox’s “American Idol” CBS’s “The Price is Right,” the syndicated “Family Feud” and TLC’s dating makeover show “Date Patrol.”