News Briefs: ‘Arrested’ Developments

Jan 16, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A few weeks ago, news broke that Showtime and ABC were vying for the presumably canceled Fox comedy “Arrested Development.” Turns out ABC offered producers Imagine Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television a 13-episode commitment to the series, which a network spokesperson has now confirmed. Showtime, meanwhile, has offered a two-year commitment, which would likely translate to 26 episodes. Sources said producers are still mulling both offers. Meanwhile, the series continues to struggle on Fox, with its most recent episode drawing a mere 4.2 million viewers. Sources said an ABC deal, especially in the wake of the show’s most recent performance, is unlikely. Last year Fox reduced the third-season order of “Arrested” from 22 to 13 episodes. Though the show has not been officially canceled, the reduction triggered a clause in the show’s contract enabling producers to shop the series elsewhere.

Stations Decline to Run Ads Attacking DeLay

Houston TV stations were refusing late last week to air a controversial ad urging Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to resign, after the beleaguered congressman threatened to sue. Of particular controversy in the ad, sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund, is an allegation that Mr. DeLay received “$1 million from Russian tycoons to allegedly influence his vote.” In a story on its Web site, Belo’s KHOU-TV said an attorney for the congressman had challenged the accuracy of the claim. A spokesman for Mr. DeLay had not returned telephone calls at deadline. But Toby Chaudhuri, a spokesman for the Campaign for America’s Future, said the group’s ad was “solid”-and that the group is fighting back. “Rep. DeLay is threatening to sue the media and desperately throwing dust in the eyes of his constituents,” Mr. Chaudhuri said. “The dirty tricks that got Rep. DeLay into this mess aren’t going to get him out.”

Ford, Coca-Cola, Cingular Return as ‘Idol’ Sponsors

Ford Motor Co., Coca-Cola and Cingular Wireless are returning as the sponsors of “American Idol,” Fox said Friday. Contestants will be shown riding in Ford vehicles, and the winner and runner-up in the competition will receive new Ford Fusions. Coke will be featured in interstitials on the show and the company will air a special “Idol”-themed commercial. Cingular customers will be able to use their phones to vote for contestants, and they will receive trivia, fan club news, chat and interactive games via their phones. Cingular also plans to launch an “Idol”-themed sweepstakes later in the season.

Furman Departs MTV

Ron Furman, named senior VP of ad sales for MTV, MTV2, mtvU and MTV.com last April, has left the company, an MTV spokesperson confirmed Friday. Both parties came to the conclusion it wasn’t a good fit, the spokesperson said. No replacement has been named, but sources said Sean Moran, senior VP of ad sales for VH1, was a candidate for the job. Mr. Moran worked with Christina Norman at VH1 before she became MTV president last May. Mr. Furman joined MTV after working at Univision, where he was executive VP of sales and marketing.

Halmis to Buy Back Hallmark Entertainment

Twelve years after they sold their production company to Hallmark Cards, Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr. have reached an agreement to buy back Hallmark Entertainment, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, and plan to rename it RHI Entertainment. The Halmis, known for their award-winning TV movies and sweeping miniseries, are working with affiliates of private investment firm Kelso & Co. The transaction closed Thursday, according to the announcement from Hallmark Entertainment. Mr. Halmi Sr., who has been president and CEO of Hallmark Entertainment, praised Hallmark Cards as “a tremendous and supportive partner” but said, “Now the time has come for us to start a new chapter with the flexibility afforded to an independent entertainment company which will facilitate better service to our clients.”