Stephen Battaglio

Upfront Analysis Day 2: ABC The net gets aggressive, with familiar faces and Cavemen

Dash Mihok, Cavemen

Even with all the success ABC has had on Sunday and Thursday (thanks to the bold move of Grey's Anatomy to that night), there are plenty of other time periods throughout the week where the network simply wasn't competitive this past season.

But while the struggling NBC cautiously put together a schedule that seemed designed to retain its diminished share of advertiser dollars, ABC is being much more aggressive. In the new lineup presented to advertisers Wednesday at Alice Tully Hall, entertainment president Stephen McPherson threw a lot of stuff against the scheduling board in the hope that something will stick.

Determined to get back into the comedy game, ABC gave Sam I Am with Christina Applegate the benefit of a Dancing with the Stars read more

Upfront Analysis Day 1: NBC Journeyman and Bionic Woman Could Be the Next Heroes

Michelle Ryan, Bionic Woman

The message from NBC's new 2007-08 schedule is pretty clear: The network wants another Heroes. Badly.

Entertainment president Kevin Reilly picked up three fantasy/sci-fi-type shows that all could have been compatible with Heroes and thrived in the 10 pm on Monday time slot, now the most attractive piece of real estate for a new NBC series.

Journeyman got the nod, thanks to being the network's highest-testing drama pilot in five years. Chuck — about a geeky guy who has government secrets planted in his head — will do battle on Tuesday at 9 pm because it didn't seem to boast the same broad appeal.

Oddly enough, it was read more

Couric's News Gets a Makeover
CBS attempts to fix record-low ratings

Katie Couric, CBS Evening News

When Katie Couric first took over the CBS Evening News, she said she didn't want to do your grandmother's newscast. But she's found out the hard way that Grandma liked her evening news the way it was. The program's ratings have fallen to a 20-year low, languishing behind ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. CBS News recently installed veteran producer Rick Kaplan, who has upped the number of stories covered and dropped the informal touches that Couric brought to it.

"A lot of things didn't work," says Kaplan. "It didn't suit what the viewers were looking for, and we got off it and tried something else. We gave everyone a lesson in some things not to do."

The anchor agrees it's the way to go for now.

"Rick is trying to reassure people that we are here every night coverin read more

Who Will Survive Jericho's Explosive Finale?


Someone on Jericho will die this week so that the show may live on. It sounds heartless. But the producers of the CBS drama about life in a small Kansas town after a nuclear catastrophe are sacrificing one of the series' regulars in the battle-fueled finale as part of a long-term plan to take the story in a new direction. Executive producer Carol Barbee will only describe the victim as "somebody who had a deal to be here for the next five years." Is it bad boy turned local hero Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) read more

Pilot Buzz
A rundown of the top new contenders for the fall

Jimmy Smits

The networks are just days away from unveiling their fall lineups. Here's the early word on what new shows to expect.

ABC will try hard to diversify its program lineup with a few dramas that don't fall into the soap category. That's why Marlowe, based on the famous Raymond Chandler detective character, and Pushing Daisies, a quirky supernatural drama about a man whose touch brings people back to life ("with procedural elements" as the pilot's log line says), are on the list of possible pickups. A sitcom based on the Geico cavemen and Sam I Am, starring Christina Applegate, are contenders on the comedy side. And oh, yes — the network also has a new series that will be spun out of a little show called Grey's Anatomy.

read more

Cold Case Preview: A Hostage Crisis Closes the Season!

Cold Case

For a cop show, CBS' Cold Case isn't big on shoot-'em-ups. Maybe it's because the drama's Philadelphia detectives usually sift through evidence from long ago. The team recently closed the books on the murder of a 1919 suffragette. Let's just say they didn't have to call in a SWAT team to solve that one.

But Lilly Rush and Co. will end their fourth season (this Sunday at 9 pm/ET) with a bang. Two bangs, actually. "Our detectives are getting shot," reveals executive producer Veena Sud. "I can't say who. They're all in jeopardy. It's very big."

Almost unprecedented. Beyond the show's trademark flashbacks, George — the serial-killer tormentor of Rush (Kathryn Morris) — is the only character to have taken a bullet in nearly 100 episodes. Det. Kat Miller (read more

Hit the Road, Matt Today's Matt Lauer embarks on his eighth "Where in the World...?" tour

Matt Lauer, Today

Every few sweeps periods, Today coanchor Matt Lauer grabs his passport and heads off on what has become a surefire stunt for NBC's morning program: "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" Each morning Today viewers will wake up to find Lauer in such locales as the Great Wall of China, Easter Island or the slopes of the Swiss Alps. On April 30 he's back on the road again. Even though it's his eighth such trip (logging 182,616 miles), Today fans never get tired of it. But what about the jet-lagged Lauer? The Biz asked him before he took off. Every time you do "Where in the World...?" you always sound like you don't want to do it again.
Matt Lauer:
That's my shtick. That's what gets people like you to continue to write about it. Why do you keep going back out?
I had lunch not long ago read more

Sunday Drivers Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace on the long, long road to the White House

Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday

Before there was Fox News Channel, there was Fox News Sunday. The Beltway-based Sunday discussion program celebrates its 11th anniversary on Fox stations this month. While it's still just knee-high to NBC's Meet the Press (60 years) and CBS' Face the Nation (52 years), it is part of the opinion-leading sphere of Sunday-morning programs — a tradition that survives in the age of 24-hour cable news and the Internet. Despite those other formats, Sunday-morning shows will provide defining moments for the candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign. The Biz talked with Fox News Sunday moderator Chris Wallace about his news organization's role in the long road to the White House. Why do you think the Democratic candidates for president have pulled out of the debates cosponsored by Fox News?
read more

Imus Update
NBC News explains why the talk-show host was fired

Don Imus

Don Imus' racist comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team led to a public outcry, but it was the voices of his fellow employees at NBC News that got his show yanked from TV. (CBS announced late Thursday that it has dumped Imus' radio program as well, effective immediately. CBS Radio carried the program on 61 stations across the U.S.)

Imus faced a cascade of criticism for calling the Rutgers team members "nappy-headed ho's" on his Imus in the Morning radio program, which had been simulcast on MSNBC. He made a public apology, and it appeared that the outrageously irreverent host would get off with a two-week suspension.

That all changed after a meeting late on the afternoon of April 10, which NBC News president Steve Capus held with about 30 of his staffers, including Today show weatherman Al Roker, the most high-profile African-American on-air personality in the new read more

Imus in the Morning After Racist remarks may result in worse than suspension

Don Imus

Are MSNBC and CBS Radio being too easy on Don Imus for his racist remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team?

Other TV personalities and radio shock jocks have been yanked for making stupid, insensitive comments on the air that were not as incendiary as what Imus said — and the Imus in the Morning host is getting only a two-week suspension. NBC News executives say they believe that he truly regrets his comments and decided not to can him. "He gets why this is so wrong," one executive told the Biz.

But even though he's kept his job for now, Imus' career is doomed. The problem is that for too long, he's tried to have it both ways. In the 1970s and '80s he was inappropriate, outrageous and hilarious. Even if you considered yourself an enlightened p read more

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