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Feb 23, 2004  •  Post A Comment

George Foreman Reality Series Shopped

On the heels of news that NBC is developing a boxing reality show with Mark Burnett, Crystal Spring Productions on Monday announced its own project featuring two-time heavyweight world champ George Foreman.

The as-yet-untitled series involves a group of heavyweights living and training together under the coaching of Mr. Foreman. Crystal Spring Productions is owned by HBO boxing host Jim Lampley.

“We have been developing this project over the past several months, but with George now onboard, we will be producing what we are sure will be the definitive insider’s look at the reality of boxing,” said Mr. Lampley. “Boxers are modern-day gladiators, and this series will challenge these contenders — physically, mentally and spiritually — to be the best they can be, spurred on by the champ and in front of the entire world. For these guys, everything is at stake.”

A spokesman for the producers said the project is currently being shopped at several networks.

History Channel to Launch Spanish-Language Network: The History Channel plans to launch a new 24-hour television network dedicated to the Spanish-speaking audience in the spring of 2004. The History Channel en Espanol will present a wide range of Spanish-language programming that focuses on the great dramatic moments and events as well as the pivotal figures in history. The channel will highlight both world and Latin American history.

Study Reports Children Vulnerable to Commercials: Young children are so vulnerable to advertising that commercials should be strictly limited on programming aimed at kids, according to a report released late Monday by a task force of the American Psychological Association. “Advertising to young children is like shooting fish in a barrel,” said Dale Kunkel, senior author of the task force’s report.

The report’s key finding is that children under the age of 8 are unable to view ads critically, accepting commercial messages as truth-a factor the report says appears to be driving an epidemic of unhealthy eating habits and obesity in kids. The report itself doesn’t recommend a specific crackdown, but Mr. Kunkel said the range of options includes a complete prohibition on programming with audiences primarily composed of children 8 and under.

Other alternatives, he said, would include restrictions on the amount of advertising permitted on children’s programming, or the type of advertising permitted, including bans on certain products or use of popular children’s characters to make the pitch. “Advertising to young children is fundamentally unfair, and that’s a problem,” Mr. Kunkel said. Dan Jaffe, executive VP for the Association of National Advertisers, said the industry already self-regulates children’s TV advertising and that a regulatory crackdown would raise constitutional concerns. In addition, Mr. Jaffe said, the real responsibility for the consumption habits of children lies with their parents. “Very young children generally are not going to purchase a product themselves,” Mr. Jaffe said.

‘Millionaire’ Pushes ABC to a Sunday Win: ABC got a little sweeps relief last night with “Super Millionaire” boosting the network to a nightly victory in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers. “Super Millionaire” was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7/13 and total viewers with 17.5 million, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. “Millionaire” beat NBC’s second-place “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (5.1/11) by 12 percent in adults 18 to 49.

ABC also got a solid performance at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which finished second in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.8/9, beating CBS’s “Cold Case” (3.6/9). Fox’s “The Simpsons” and a “Simpsons” rerun combined to win the 8 p.m. hour with a 5.5/13.

At 10 p.m., NBC rebounded to win the hour in adults 18 to 49 with a rerun of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” which pulled a 4.8/13. ABC’s “The Practice” finished second with a 3.4/9, losing 35 percent of “Super Millionaire’s” audience.

For the night, ABC won adults 18 to 49 with a 4.0/10, followed by Fox (3.9/10), NBC (3.8/10), CBS (2.7/7) and The WB (1.7/4). In total viewers, ABC won the night with 11.9 million, followed by CBS (11.7 million), NBC (10.9 million), Fox (9.4 million) and The WB (3.6 million).

Wheeler Named ‘Guiding’ Exec Producer: Ellen Wheeler, the Emmy-winning soap actress turned director and producer, has been named executive producer of “Guiding Light,” the CBS daytime drama also produced by Procter & Gamble Productions.

Ms. Wheeler succeeds John Conboy, whose contract negotiations last December were stormy and whose last day at “GL” was Friday. Although Ms. Wheeler reported to “GL” today, she is scheduled to spend Tuesday on the set of “As the World Turns,” P&G’s sister CBS soap where she has been a director off and on since 1999.

Ms. Wheeler has also acted in soaps. She won Emmy Awards for playing twins Marley and Victoria Hudson on “Another World” and Cindy Parker on “All My Children.” She also had roles on “Dark Shadows” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

During her stint as director on “ATWT,” the show received two Emmy Awards for drama series and Ms. Wheeler and the directing team received three consecutive Emmy Award nominations. In 2002 she produced and directed at “GL.” She returned to her directing post at “ATWT” in 2003.

Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin, executive in charge of production for Procter & Gamble Productions, said, “This is a very exciting announcement for me to make. Ellen joined our Procter & Gamble family almost 20 years ago and has since been an invaluable asset working in almost every facet of production as an actress, director and producer.”

WCBS, New York Times to Sponsor Democratic Debate: CBS News, CBS-owned WCBS-TV in New York and The New York Times will sponsor a live debate among Democratic president contenders Sen. John Edwards, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton at 11 a.m. (ET) Sunday, Feb. 29.

The hour-long debate at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York will be moderated by “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather, with questions posed by two political reporters from WCBS and The Times. It will be offered to all CBS owned-and-affiliated television stations. It will be carried live on WCBS-AM radio in New York and will be offered live to all CBS radio stations and affiliates by CBS Radio News. The debate also will be webcast live on CBSNews.com.