News Briefs: ABC Slots ‘Dancing’ for ‘Alias’ Hiatus

Oct 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

ABC’s surprise summer reality hit “Dancing With the Stars” will return for a second cycle beginning Thursday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. (ET), replacing the action drama “Alias.” ABC announced Friday that “Alias” will take a broadcast hiatus due to series star Jennifer Garner’s maternity leave. “Alias” is scheduled to return to the network’s lineup with original episodes in the spring. “Dancing With the Stars” is the U.S. version of the BBC series “Strictly Come Dancing.” ABC’s version is produced in the United States by BBC Worldwide.

NBCU, TW Cable Renew USA Carriage Pact

NBC Universal Cable and Time Warner Cable have agreed on a renewal of the carriage agreement for USA Network. The agreement also calls for increased carriage for Universal HD, mun2 and Telemundo Puerto Rico and for the two companies to work together on new technologies, including video-on-demand and interactivity. Under the agreement, shows from NBC, USA, CNBC, Bravo and Sci Fi will be included in Time Warner Cable’s Start Over service, which enables viewers who miss the start of a show to watch the program from the beginning by pushing a button on the remote control.

Tsujihara to Head New Warner Bros. Unit

Warner Bros. Entertainment has created a new division, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, and has appointed Kevin Tsujihara as its president. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group encompasses distribution operations via home video, online, wireless, games and emerging technologies, and includes responsibility for the studio’s anti-piracy efforts. Mr. Tsujihara has named Ron Sanders president of Warner Home Video. Before his promotion, Mr. Tsujihara was executive VP of corporate business development and strategy for the studio.

Burnett’s Options Widen Stewart’s Loss

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported that its third-quarter loss widened to $26.1 million from year-earlier red ink of $15 million, hurt by $10.8 million in charges related to stock options paid to Mark Burnett as executive producer of “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.” The company rebounded on the revenue side, posting a 6 percent increase to $40.9 million on the strength of its television and publishing units. The TV division saw its revenue surge 54 percent to $3.4 million, reflecting the first three weeks of the company’s new syndicated daily talk show “Martha.” However, the show’s production costs contributed to an operating loss of $3.5 million, compared with red ink of $1.8 million a year ago.

Lifetime Has Had Enough ‘Strong Medicine’

After six years, Lifetime has canceled its veteran drama “Strong Medicine.” The series was the longest-running original drama on basic cable and anchored Lifetime’s Sunday nights. Lifetime made the decision despite a modest increase in ratings this season.

TVWeek Panel: Reality Genre Is Here to Stay

Media reports suggesting reality series are losing popularity are overblown, a panel of reality programming panelists said at TelevisionWeek and AOL Television’s latest Power Breakfast. At the Oct. 25 “Reality Television: How Far Can You Push the Envelope?” panel in Beverly Hills, David Lyle, chief operating officer and general manager of cable’s Fox Reality Channel, said it’s not the first time he has heard dire predictions about the future of reality TV. “It’s as regular as the leaves turning red in New England.” He said six to eight months after media reports warn of a reality drop-off, the next hit suddenly appears. Despite the renewed success of scripted series on ABC, reality still holds a place on the schedule, said ABC’s Andrea Wong, executive VP of alternative programming, specials and late-night. “The unscripted area at ABC is viewed as equally important as comedy and drama,” Ms. Wong said. Like other kinds of programming, reality “is subject to same ups and downs,” she added, but the genre “is here to stay.”