* NBC announced plans for the finales of long-running hit sitcoms “Friends” and “Frasier.” “Friends” will end its run Thursday, May 6. A one-hour retrospective will air at 9 p.m. (ET) followed by an hour-long finale. The same night, the “Friends” cast will appear on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” which will be filmed on the Central Perk set. Leading up to the finale, from March 4 to April 8, NBC will air six episodes that viewers have chosen as their favorites of all time. The episodes will include never-before-seen footage. “Frasier” will end its run Thursday, May 13, a week after the “Friends” finale. A one-hour retrospective will air at 9 p.m. (ET) before an hour-long finale.
* Mega-mogul Donald Trump made sure his press tour appearance to promote his new NBC reality show “The Apprentice” got a lot of ink. Mr. Trump, who executive produces the show created by Mark Burnett, called CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves “the most highly overrated person in television.” “If Les Moonves was a contestant on this show, he would have been fired by the third episode, and unlike most people I like Les Moonves,” he told a room full of reporters. Mr. Burnett, who also produces CBS’s hit show “Survivor,” sat onstage next to Mr. Trump with his head in his hands. When asked if he’d like to comment on Mr. Trump’s opinion, he declined, saying, “Don’t make me dumb enough to be fired in the next episode.”
Mr. Moonves declined comment, but a CBS spokesman said “Donald’s always good for a chuckle.”
* In other NBC programming news, Adam, the runner-up and fan favorite from the first “Average Joe,” will search for love again in “Average Joe: Adam Returns,” which will air Mondays at 10 p.m. once “Average Joe: Hawaii” vacates the time slot after its run. … NBC picked up daytime soap “Passions” for a sixth season. That will take the show through 2004-05. … The animated half-hour “Father of the Pride,” about a family of white lions that performs in the Siegfried & Roy show in Las Vegas, is going forward despite Roy’s recent mauling by a tiger. A few adjustments were made to the show after the attack, Mr. Zucker said. … The season finale of “Ed” will air Friday, Feb. 6, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. and feature the wedding of Ed and Carol. … “Crossing Jordan,” starring Jill Hennessy, will return to the schedule and begin its third season in March. It will air Sundays at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. … NBC will counter-program the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 with a “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” marathon from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. … Midseason sitcom “Come to Papa” will premiere in March. The press tour session for the show was canceled because the pilot wasn’t ready in time to show to critics, Mr. Zucker said.
* The WB has opened a made-for-television movies division and hired movie veteran Tana Nugent Jamieson to run the department. With the exception of CBS, broadcast networks have cut back on the number of made-for-TV movies they air. That leaves The WB with an opportunity to fill that void with movies targeted at their 12-to 24-year-old audience, WB co-CEO Jordan Levin said. Mr. Levin said the network was not going to start a movie night, but will schedule them strategically. Ms. Jamieson, who was named senior VP, programming, made-for-TV movies, most recently served as VP of original programming/movies at cable network TBS. The first movie she will oversee is the first movie in the “American Girl” series, which The WB previously bought rights to.
* The second edition of reality show “High School Reunion” will premiere Sunday, March 14, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) It takes over the time slot from “The Surreal Life,” which will have finished its run by then. … Midseason sitcom “The Help” will premiere Friday, March 5, from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., taking over the time slot from “Like Family,” which will have finished its original run for the season.
* Midseason sitcom “The Big House” will premiere Friday, April 2, from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. … “NYPD Blue” will return to the schedule Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The fate of “Line of Fire,” which will have aired nine episodes in that time slot, is still up in the air. … ABC bought the game show “Deal or No Deal” from Endemol. A spring airdate is likely. The show is a hit in the Netherlands, Argentina and Australia. … ABC is in talks with Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley about bringing back Mr. Bochco’s “NYPD Blue” and Mr. Kelley’s “The Practice” for next season. Mr. Braun declared he was “hopeful” about the shows returning. … The network has picked up for next season an untitled pilot from Mr. Kelley and Jason Katims, and produced by 20th Century Fox Television. It is a family drama about three 20-something sisters who work for their family-owned wedding-planning business and have to deal with their bitterly divorced parents. ABC bought the pilot based on the pitch alone.
Midseason sitcom “Cracking Up” will premiere Monday, March 8, from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Its lead-in will be repeats of “That ’70s Show,” which will air at 8 p.m. … Reality soap opera “Forever Eden” will debut Monday, March 1, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will air in that time slot for four weeks before moving March 18 to Thursdays at 9 p.m. … New drama “Wonderfalls” premieres Friday, March 12, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a seven-episode run. Thirteen episodes were shot, but the rest have yet to be scheduled. Current time slot occupant “Boston Public” takes a hiatus, with its fate still to be determined.
TCA Press Tour Notes
Jan 19, 2004 • Post A Comment