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The WB Counters Emmys Telecast

Jul 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In one of The WB’s most aggressive scheduling moves in its history, the network will run the broadcast premiere of the feature film “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in its entirety directly up against CBS’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 18.

“We think it is a much better event for us putting it in one block,” said David Janollari, president of entertainment for The WB. He announced the counterprogramming decision last Friday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. The blockbuster film will run from 7-11 p.m. (ET).

“It’s a big event to kick off our fall launch,” Mr. Janollari said. “I personally think the Emmys will have good viewership this year with the success of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Lost.’ This is a terrific younger-skewing alternative for us.”

The move comes as The WB continues to try to appeal to the older half of the persons 12 to 34 demographic. The network has been making an effort to not focus entirely on teens and has added more adult-skewing story lines, situations and casting. “Two Towers” is the sort of fare that is expected to draw both halves of the 12 to 34 category.

“We have always done very well in that 12 to 24 group,” said Garth Ancier, chairman of The WB. “We have not done as well in the 25 to 34 age group. We’re trying to crack that.”Mr. Janollari and Mr. Ancier said the scheduling move had nothing to do with this year’s Emmy nominations virtually ignoring The WB in the major categories, including a snub of “Gilmore Girls'” Lauren Graham in the lead actress in a comedy category.

“We made that scheduling way in the advance of the Emmy nominations,” Mr. Janollari said, noting he was “terribly disappointed” Ms. Graham and “Gilmore Girls” were not recognized.

Mr. Ancier pointed out that Mr. Janollari personally did well when it came to Emmy nominations, considering he produced the CBS miniseries “Elvis” and the HBO series “Six Feet Under,” both of which received multiple nominations.

“He didn’t get snubbed, and he’s going,” Mr. Ancier said of Mr. Janollari.

Other highlights and announcements from The WB’s press tour presentation:

  • Mr. Janollari said he is confident the network will see growth on Thursdays with “Smallville” and “Everwood” moving to the night starting Sept. 29. With NBC no longer the presumed winner on Thursdays and CBS becoming a dominant performer on the night, Mr. Janollari said, the other networks are hoping to increase their young adult numbers.

    “Thursday isn’t what it used to be,” he said. “We all believe there is opportunity there if we get a little more aggressive about it.”

    And even if “Smallville” and “Everwood” are down in the ratings in 2005-06 from last season, a nightly gain on Thursday is still the goal for The WB, he said. “We’re looking for ratings growth for the night.”

    With the film industry’s continued interest in Thursday as a place to promote new weekend releases, Mr. Ancier said it remains the most valuable night in terms of ad dollars. “Is it a surprise people want to be competitive on that night?” he said. “Not at all.”

  • Mark McGrath, who was announced in May as the newest cast member on the drama “Charmed,” won’t be joining the series after all. Mr. McGrath’s production schedule on the Warner Bros.-distributed syndicated strip “Extra” wouldn’t give him enough time to shoot the prime-time series, Mr. Janollari said. Kaley Cuoco (“8 Simple Rules”) and Jason Lewis (“Sex and the City”) are joining “Charmed” instead.

    The network’s second made-for-TV movie, “Felicity: An American Girl Adventure,” will air Tuesday, Nov. 29. “Felicity” is based on the American Girl Inc. character and is executive produced by Julia Roberts.

  • James Marsters (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) will guest-star on “Smallville.” He will portray Superman’s nemesis Brainiac.

  • In other casting news, Kiele Sanchez has been added to the cast of the sister family drama “Related” and Jaime Lee Kirchner is joining the courtroom drama “Just Legal.”