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Feb 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

WB Drives a Stake Into ‘Angel’

Barely a week after “Angel” celebrated its 100th episode, The WB decided not to renew the drama for another season. “Angel,” the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff created by Joss Whedon, will wrap up its run in May after five seasons.

The WB informed studio 20th Century Fox Television of the decision Friday. The cast and crew were also informed that it would be show’s last year.

“For the last seven years ‘Angel’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ have been cornerstones of our network,” said Jordan Levin, co-CEO of The WB. “The sum total of the work done on those shows has produced some of the proudest moments in our history. Like some of the great series that are leaving the air this year, including ‘Frasier’ and ‘Friends,’ the cast, crew, writers and producers of ‘Angel’ deserve to be able to wrap up the series in a way befitting a classic television series, and that is why we went to Joss to let him know that this would be the last year of the series on The WB. We did not want to contemplate this being the last year of ‘Angel’ without giving the show the option of crafting their own destiny for this character and for this series.”

Mr. Levin did leave the door open for “Angel” to return with several special movie events next year, but there is no word on whether Mr. Whedon and 20th would be interested in that option.

“Angel” is The WB’s fourth-highest-rated show in the network’s core 12- to 34-year-old demographic and has a rabid cult audience, but the series was never able to expand that audience. With several of The WB’s dramas, such as “7th Heaven” and “Charmed,” getting older, the network may have figured it was better to take a shot with new programming than a proven expensive show with a limited audience.

Exec Shuffling at ABC Family: While the Comcast bid looms, Disney-owned ABC Family Channel is experiencing some executive shuffling. Robin Schwartz, former VP of programming at ABC Family, has left Disney to join Regency Television as president. Two Disney Channel executives, Gary Marsh (executive VP of programming and production) and Michael Healy (VP of original movies), will take over original movie production at ABC Family. An ABC Family spokesperson said ABC Cable Networks Group President Anne Sweeney plans to appoint a new network president by spring. The new president, in turn, will appoint a head of programming to replace the late Linda Mancuso.

NBC, CBS Split Thursday: NBC won Thursday night in adults 18 to 49, while CBS won in total viewers. CBS’s “CSI” pulled its largest audience of the season with 31 million total viewers, making it the most-watched regularly scheduled broadcast on any network so far this year, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

NBC’s “Friends” was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49 with an 11 rating/29 share, up about 16 percent vs. the same night last year. It drew 23.9 million total viewers, beating out CBS’s second-place “Survivor.”

At 9 p.m., “CSI” finished 12 million viewers ahead of NBC’s second-place “The Apprentice.” However, NBC was able to draw almost as large an audience in the 18 to 49 demo as “CSI.” “CSI” scored a 10.2/24 for the hour while “Apprentice” had a 9.1/22.

NBC’s “ER” won the 10 p.m. battle in adults 18 to 49 with a 10.3/26, easily beating out CBS’s “Without a Trace,” which pulled a 6.3/16. However, “Trace” posted its best performances in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers (20 million) against an original episode of “ER.”

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 10.0/25, followed by CBS (8.2/20), ABC (2.3/6), UPN (2.1/5), Fox (1.9/5) and The WB (1.1/3). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 24.4 million, followed by NBC (21.5 million), ABC (7.3 million), UPN (5.2 million), Fox (4.4 million) and The WB (2.7 million).

Schwartz Named Regency Television President: Robin Schwartz has been appointed the new president of Regency Television. She will oversee all of the studio’s current series, which include ‘Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” as well as development and production.

Ms. Schwartz joins Regency from ABC Family Channel, where she was VP of programming. She has been a writer-producer on a number of comedy and drama projects and served as VP of prime-time series and Saturday morning programs for NBC Entertainment. She replaces Peter Aronson, who left Regency to become executive producer of “The Bernie Mac Show.”

“Robin continues the Regency tradition of management by executives who not only have superb taste, they are also in real touch with the creative community — having come from their ranks — and have a deep, hands-on understanding of what it takes to develop and produce a fine television series,” said David Grant, president of Fox TV Studios.