Craig Kilborn is putting his CBS late-night career to bed after five years as host of “The Late Late Show.” He will leave the network in about two weeks. Mr. Kilborn last Thursday informed CBS and World Wide Pants, David Letterman’s production company, which programs the hour following Mr. Letterman’s “Late Show,” of his decision to leave. The decision caught both the network and Mr. Kilborn’s World Wide Pants bosses somewhat by surprise after months of negotiations for a new multiyear contract. “CBS was very generous in their offer to re-sign me,” Mr. Kilborn said in a statement. “I simply want to try something new.” Rob Burnett, president and CEO of the production company and executive producer of Mr. Letterman’s show, said Friday that “lists are being assembled now” of possible candidates to fill the “Late Late” chair and that no talks have been held with anyone. Mr. Burnett said “Late Late” already is scheduled to be on hiatus during the two weeks after Mr. Kilborn’s exit. Speculation quickly arose that CBS and World Wide Pants might be expected to woo Conan O’Brien, whose NBC contract is up in 2005.
DreamWorks Extends Deal With NBCU
DreamWorks Television has extended its pod deal with NBC Universal for another three years, sources said last Friday. The multimillion-dollar deal assures the network a first look at all potential DreamWorks series in exchange for picking up the studio’s overhead costs. DreamWorks’ initial two-year deal with NBCU was set to expire this year. The deal doesn’t restrict DreamWorks from working with other networks.
Commission Proposes Three Presidential Debates
The Commission on Presidential Debates last week proposed three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry’s campaign agreed to the debate formats and locations, but President George W. Bush’s campaign had not responded as of Friday. Jim Lehrer, anchor of public broadcasting’s “The NewsHour,” would moderate the first presidential debate Sept. 30 at the University of Miami. Candidates would be seated at a table with the moderator, focusing on domestic policy. “NewsHour” correspondent Gwen Ifill would moderate the vice-presidential debate Oct. 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The debate would be open to all topics and candidates would be seated at a table with the moderator. Charlie Gibson, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” would moderate the second presidential debate Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis. The proposed format is a town hall meeting with questions from undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization. Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” would moderate the final presidential debate Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe. Candidates again would be seated at a table with the moderator and the focus would be foreign policy.
Fox Fine-Tunes Prime-Time Plans
Fox announced last Friday it is giving a full 22-episode season order to summer drama series “North Shore.” Earlier in the week the network said it will premiere its new reality makeover series, “Family Time,” Sept. 7 and its reality boxing show, “The Next Great Champ,” Sept. 10. The Rocket Science Laboratories production “Family Time,” hosted by Jay McGraw, will feature new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 p.m. (ET) through September. Meanwhile, sources said the 20th Century Fox Television/Regency Television Comedy “Method & Red” is going through an overhaul that may result in major changes to the show’s writing staff. “Method & Red” premiered June 16 to OK ratings on Fox. In July the show got an additional three-episode order from the network. “Method & Red” is scheduled to go on a three-week production hiatus this week. The studios behind the show were meeting last week to discuss the creative direction of “Method & Red” and the need for a midcourse correction, the source said.
NBC Grasps Billion-Dollar Olympic Ring
NBC last week hit its $1 billion goal in advertising sales for the Summer Olympics just before the start of the Games, according to the network.