News Briefs: ABC Gives ‘Freddie’ Full-Season Order

Nov 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

ABC has picked up the Wednesday sitcom “Freddie” for a full season, while The WB is making 2005-06 the final season of its long-running family drama “7th Heaven.” “Freddie,” which stars Freddie Prinze Jr., is the third debuting series on ABC to get a full-season pickup, after dramas “Commander in Chief” and “Invasion.” “Freddie” is a Warner Bros. Television production and is executive produced by Bruce Helford, Deborah Oppenheimer, Bruce Rasmussen and Mr. Prinze. “7th Heaven,” which launched The WB’s first Monday night broadcast on Aug. 26, 1996, will end its 10-year run as the longest-running family drama in television history, with more than 200 episodes. The series was created by Brenda Hampton, who also serves as executive producer along with Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent. “7th Heaven” is a production of Spelling Television. Meanwhile, Fox is pulling its Monday 8 p.m. hour block of comedies “Arrested Development” and “Kitchen Confidential” for the rest of the November sweeps and is replacing them with repeats of the drama “Prison Break.” “Kitchen” is not expected to receive a back-nine episode order, while the full-season order for “Arrested” has been cut by nine episodes, sources said.

Liberty Names CEO, Adds Tracking Stock

John Malone’s Liberty Media has named a former Microsoft executive as CEO and announced plans to create a tracking stock for its interactive businesses. Gregory Maffei, who once was Microsoft’s chief financial officer and most recently served as co-president of software company Oracle, was tapped to replace Mr. Malone, who has been interim CEO since August. Mr. Maffei will officially join Liberty next spring, when he will also assume the position of president. He will work closely with Mr. Malone and Mr. Bennett in the interim. Liberty also announced it will combine its home-shopping channel QVC with stakes Liberty has in several interactive companies, including IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, into a tracking stock, possibly to be named Liberty Capital. Mr. Malone said the move is part of an effort to provide further transparency to investors, many of whom have complained that Liberty’s asset mix has been a challenge to value fairly. The company swung to a third-quarter loss of $94 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $372 million, hurt by debt losses and higher expenses. Revenue rose 13 percent to $1.9 billion.

Tribune Vets Set For Broadcast Posts

Tribune has named John Reardon president and CEO of its broadcast division. He will oversee the company’s 26 television stations, the WGN-TV superstation, WGN Radio and Tribune Entertainment. The company also named John Vitanovec executive VP, reporting to Mr. Reardon. Mr. Reardon replaces Pat Mullen, who resigned several weeks ago. Mr. Reardon had been responsible for the company’s TV stations in the Western and Southern regions of the United States. He served as general manager of KTLA-TV in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2004. Mr. Vitanovec oversaw the Central and Eastern regions as well as WGN-TV, and previously served as general manager of WGN-TV from 1999 to 2004.

Philbin to Host Prime-Time ‘This Is Your Life’

Regis Philbin, daytime syndication talk show host and the former host of ABC’s prime-time version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” is returning to the network as the host of an updated version of “This Is Your Life.” Created and hosted by Ralph Edwards, “This Is Your Life” premiered on network television in 1952 and ran for nine years. The newest incarnation, which is being produced by Fox Television Studios, will be a series of specials. Mindy Moore, Fred Siegel, Jon Vein, Gary Edwards and Barbara Dunn-Leonard are executive producing.

UPN’s Top Sales Exec Shifts to Fox News

UPN’s top ad sales executive, Mike Mandelker, has been named VP of Eastern sales for Fox News Channel. Mr. Mandelker replaces Kevin Brown, who has left Fox News, and reports to Senior VP of Ad Sales Paul Rittenberg. He will oversee Eastern regional sales for the network, including response sales and business development.