Stephen Battaglio

A Royal Audience
Larry King celebrates 50 years in the business

Larry King

This month CNN's titan of talk Larry King celebrates his 50th year in broadcasting. (For those of you who never knew a world without cable, King was doing local and network radio shows when CNN just was one of many ideas flying around in Ted Turner's brain.) King will be reflecting on his career with a week of special shows starting April 16 and a big bash at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York (suspenders optional, we've been told). After quizzing some 40,000 guests over the decades, we thought it was a good time for King to answer a few questions from the Biz. Name a historical figure you wish you could book on your show.
Larry King:
Jesus Christ. What would you ask him?
"Do you believe you were born of a virgin birth?" read more

Reality Check
NBC's Richard Engel describes his grim War Zone Diary

Richard Engel

In early 2003, when most news organizations pulled their people out of Iraq before the war began, American freelance journalist Richard Engel stayed. He eventually signed on with NBC News and has been reporting on the violence and occasional progress there ever since. His documentary, War Zone Diary, which premieres March 21 at 10 pm/ET on MSNBC, provides a jarring and grim inside look at life on the ground in Baghdad. It also includes portions of a highly personal video diary that Engel kept during his four years there. The Biz talked with Engel during his recent U.S. visit to find out how he's holding up. When you're in Baghdad, I imagine you have the sense that it's the most important place in the world right now. Then you get here, and, to be kind, the public has a certain level of avoidance about the subject.
Richard Engel:
That was surprising to me. On this trip read more

P.I., Spy: The Andy Richter and Conan O'Brien Q&A

Andy Richter and Conan O'Brien

In an unbridled side-by-side Q&A, Andy Barker, P.I. star Andy Richter and series cocreator Conan O'Brien riff on their new NBC sitcom (premiering tonight at 9:30 pm/ET), Britney Spears jokes and the future of Late Night.

TV Guide: In Andy Barker, P.I., Andy plays an accountant who acciden­tally becomes a detective. As your company developed it with NBC, Conan, how did you keep it so funny?
Conan O'Brien:
We really like it, which is usually a bad sign. One of the things that was nice about this project is that I've always thought it's such a crapshoot to make a good television show. So many read more

A New View for Star Jones Reynolds The former daytime diva lets loose on her new Court TV series and

Star Jones Reynolds

Star Jones Reynolds is returning to her roots. Sixteen years after first transforming herself from an assistant district attorney into a legal analyst on Court TV, she's now coming back to the cable channel that will have a new name next year. Reynolds will host her own live daily talk show starting later this year. She'll also serve as executive editor and help shape the channel's daytime programming. The Biz recently talked to Reynolds about her new job, her new look and whether she's heard from her old pals at The View. What's your vision for the new show?
Reynolds: Sort of a mixture of news and information as it relates to the law, pop culture and entertainment. It's sort of the dream job for me to be able to pull all of my expertise from being a prosecutor into the same pot with some of t read more

Brian Williams' New Boss Gets Tough NBC Nightly News exec producer sizes up the competition

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News

There was a change at the top at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams last week when Alex Wallace replaced John Reiss as executive producer. Wallace, a vice president at NBC News and a former Weekend Today producer, comes in just as Nightly News is in its toughest ratings position since Williams took over for Tom Brokaw at the end of 2004. In this past February-sweeps period, ABC World News with Charles Gibson scored its first across-the-board ratings win (in total viewers and in the ad-friendly demo of news watchers aged 25 to 54) since 1996. The Biz talked to Wallace about the challenges she's facing and the decision to send Williams to Iraq, making him the first evening-news anchor to travel into the war zone since ABC read more

TV Death Watch
A look at shows facing cancellation before the fall

Law & Order

The networks have started working on new fall series, which means pink slips are coming for some of your old favorites. Here's what could be on the chopping block.

Did you ever imagine the day when Law & Order would be canceled? We're not saying it's going to happen — it probably won't. But costs on the show have risen while its ratings have dropped, which means its renewal is no longer automatic every year. NBC's other middling crime dramas — Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Crossing Jordan and Medium — are more vulnerable. The network has also yet to decide on another season for The Apprentice read more

Countdown to Big Ratings Keith Olbermann reflects on how the war has been good for his show

Keith Olbermann

War hasn't been hell for Keith Olbermann. As President Bush's poll ratings have declined in response to his handling of the Iraq situation, the ratings for Olbermann's nightly MSNBC newscast Countdown have shot up. The irreverent anchor recently signed on to front the cable news channel's most-watched show for another four years. NBC News sweetened the pot by giving him occasional essays on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and two prime time specials each year on the big network. The Biz asked Olbermann to reflect on his recent success and his new deal. Countdown's ratings have built a lot over the year. Do you think it had something to with MSNBC finally sticking with a show for more than a few months read more

The Right to Laugh 24's Joel Surnow on his conservative news satire and Jack Bauer's torture tactics

Joel Surnow

Why should liberals have all the laughs? On Feb. 18, Fox News Channel is looking to get a few younger viewers into its tent with The 1/2 Hour News Hour at 10 pm/ET. It's a satirical news program akin to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but will aim more of its shots at the left side of the political spectrum. It repeats on Feb. 25 and a second episode airs on Mar. 4, before FNC decides whether to make a weekly series. The show was developed by Joel Surnow, cocreator and executive producer of 24 and a self-described "right-wing nut job." The Biz talked to him and his fellow 24 executive producer Manny Coto about their new project and the recent heat over Jack Bauer's torture methods. read more

CBS' Jericho: Burning Questions Answered!

Skeet Ulrich and Ashley Scott, Jericho

What do the Morse-code messages say? Is Hawkins a hero or a villain? As the Feb. 21 return of CBS' Jericho nears, TV Guide has the inside scoop on these bombshells — and more!

Are we ever going to get outside of Jericho and really see what happened?
You'll get a lot of answers in the first new episode of the year (airing next Wednesday), which shows events that happened 36 hours before the bombs were dropped — if they were actually "dropped." But in the future, the show will only follow peripatetic lead character Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) and other Jericho residents. "We're trying to tell the story from the point of view of the people in this town," says executive producer Jon Turteltaub. "So we're not g read more

High School Musical third feature to the big screen

Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens, High School Musical

Before a single frame has been shot for the sequel to the Disney Channel's megahit TV-movie High School Musical, plans are already under way for a third film. But this one will be for the big screen.

Disney has announced plans to have the yet-to-be-titled second sequel premiere in movie theaters by the fourth quarter of 2008. The release will be timed for Halloween and have a story set in a haunted high school, Disney Channel chief Rich Ross told the Biz.

"The bigness of the idea we're working on would require a budget that would far outstrip what we've spent on other Disney Channel movies," said Ross, citing the reason for going the theatrical route first.

Ross said the cast has been alerted of plans to go ahead with a third High School Musical, but none have been signed as of yet. They will all reprise their roles in High School Musical 2, which begins production read more

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