Court TV to Turn on ‘Heat’

Mar 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Court TV is again revamping its prime-time program that looks at how Hollywood depicts the world of crime and the law.

The show, “Hollywood at Large,” will be renamed “Hollywood Heat” in about three weeks, and Diane Dimond, who anchored the show for three months, will take her investigative reporting skills to other Court TV programs and prime-time specials, executives at the channel said.

The network plans to name a new host and a new executive producer in the next few weeks.

Instead of harsh reports, as delivered by Ms. Dimond, best known for her coverage of the Michael Jackson child sex abuse scandal, “Hollywood Heat” will again focus on the way the entertainment industry handles Court TV’s world of investigations and criminal justice.

With its Thursday night time slot and focus on movies plus Court TV’s willing attitude toward integrated marketing, the entertainment show is very advertiser-friendly.

“It has been such a boon to ad sales, the program in general, and it’s going to be even more so,” said Charlie Collier, executive VP of ad sales at Court TV.

“Hollywood at Large” was moved into prime time last October. In preparation, a new executive producer was put in place and former MTV veejay Karen Duffy was hired to replace Wendy Walsh as host in July. But Ms. Duffy left before the show went to prime time, and it was hosted by a series of Court TV anchors until Ms. Dimond was installed in December.

Art Bell, president and chief operating officer of Court TV, said the show is returning to its roots: looking at stories about movies and TV shows that are often ripped from real headlines. “The interest in where does this stuff come from on the part of the audience is insatiable, and we can apply our expertise at Court TV to really bringing this out,” he said.

Mr. Bell said the studios don’t have to advertise to appear on the program. “When there are the right types of movies-and there are all the time-we do work quite closely with the studio to make sure we get access that others can’t get,” He said. For example, Ashley Judd, the star of current feature film “Twisted,” appeared on “Hollywood at Large” and elsewhere on Court TV. Producers are now working on an interview with Angelina Jolie regarding her new movie “Taking Lives.”

Despite the upcoming changes, Mr. Bell said that in terms of ratings and ads sales, “We’re pleased with the way it’s going.” When the show first went into prime time, it averaged a 0.5 rating and 438,000 viewers. Since Ms. Dimond became host, it averaged a 0.5 rating and 474,000 viewers.

The anchor change “gives Diana [Dimond] more of a way to show off her wares by letting her do her best work elsewhere,” he said. The channel plans to set up an investigation unit for her.

Ms. Dimond will continue to be the narrator of Court TV’s “Hollywood Justice.”