Stephen Battaglio

Pretty Good Move for Ugly Betty With a bit of shuffling, ABC has a great Thursday-night lineup

America Ferrera, Ugly Betty

It's nice to see that ABC wised up and invited Ugly Betty to the Thursday-night ball.

The new show — which will now be paired with Grey's Anatomy this fall — has been getting raves from those who have seen it. Executives from other networks have called it the best pilot they saw from their competition this year. Adapted from a telenovela that's been wildly popular for years in Latin America, Ugly Betty stars America Ferrera as a glamour-challenged woman from an immigrant family trying to make it at a flashy fashion magazine.

Salma Hayek and producer Ben Silverman have been trying to sell a U.S. version of Betty read more

A Morning Person GMA's new exec producer has a plan to get to No. 1

Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America

Jim Murphy has returned to the morning-TV wars. On July 19 he was named the new executive producer of ABC's Good Morning America, which has been entrenched in second place behind NBC's Today for over a decade. But Murphy knows it could be worse: In the 1990s he helmed CBS This Morning, which struggled to get attention because the network still disdained morning TV's breezy blend of newsmaker interviews, cooking segments and pop concerts. That's no longer the case. As Murphy told the Biz, morning shows are now the main profit engines of all news divisions and are getting more attention than ever. We talked to Murphy about the new gig he's taking on after a six-year stint at CBS Evening News You left morning TV in 1998. How has it changed since then?
Jim Murphy:
It's become more competitive, for all the obvious reasons. It's the on read more

Office Experience
Creed Bratton discusses his past as a '60s pop star

Creed Bratton, The Office

Fans of NBC's The Office are slowly learning about Creed, the old guy who spends most of his time with is feet on his desk at Dunder-Mifflin. A deleted scene from one of last season's episodes revealed he was a member of the once-superhot '60s pop band the Grassroots. (Their hits "Midnight Confessions" and "Let's Live for Today" are still oldies-radio staples.) The actor  Creed Bratton did play lead guitar in the band for a few of its glory years, and wandered the globe in search of musical stardom. The Biz caught up with Bratton at the TCA Press Tour in Pasadena and talked about the long, strange trip he's blended into his on-screen character. How did you go from being in a pop band to acting?
Creed Bratton:
Well, I was a drama major in college, b read more

The Not-Evening News The nets reveal their latest attempts at revitalizing the traditional newscast

Charles Gibson, ABC World News

Before presenting Charles Gibson to the writers at the TCA Press Tour, ABC announced that it has dropped the "Tonight" from World News Tonight: It's now World News with Charles Gibson. The new title is meant to get people used to the idea that they can get the content of ABC News broadcast throughout the day on their cell phones, iPods or computers. The news division says the webcast of World News — which has been offered online a few hours before the telecast since January — is now viewed by two million people a week.

CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News have announced similar expansions of techno-friendly ways to get their newscasts (dropping "Evening" or "Nightly" from their titles will be trickier). But all these moves simply illustrate the challenges currently facing the evening news.

Despite the hoopla of Katie Couric's arrival at CBS and the intrigue and internal politics over the decision to give the anchor chair to G read more

Your Father's Emmy
Listen up, TV Academy, we've got a plan to set things right

Hugh Laurie, House

A new and improved selection process for the 2006 Emmy Awards was supposed to pump some new blood into the nominees.

Instead, we got more kudos for The West Wing, Will & Grace and Six Feet Under. There were some inexplicable snubs as well — what's House (nominated for outstanding drama series) without Hugh Laurie (the most glaring omission from the acting categories)?

But if the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is serious about getting some new faces on read more

TV Reincarnated
Trio's Brilliant But Cancelled series finds a new life online

Jason Bateman, The Jake Effect

Connoisseurs of great, ratings-challenged TV shows thought they'd died and gone to heaven when cable channel Trio introduced its Brilliant But Cancelled programming block back in 2003. Trio unearthed some fascinating pilots that never made it to air, such as a TV version of Fargo with Edie Falco, and critically acclaimed but short-lived series such as East Side/West Side with George C. Scott. When Trio was shut down after NBC bought parent company Universal, it seemed that the cool concept had bitten the dust. But the channel's creator Lauren Z read more

Connie's Last Laugh
Her MSNBC swan song's become a huge online hit

Connie Chung

If you haven't seen Connie Chung's swan song on her MSNBC show Weekends with Connie and Maury, you're one of the few. Her parody of "Thanks for the Memory" — warbled off-key while she writhed on top of a piano in a slinky gown — has become the watercooler video clip of the moment. The segment racked up thousands of views on and was dissected on Today and the cable news channels. The Biz spoke with Chung, who left for a family vacation before she became a singing sensation, to discuss this surprise phenomenon. We can report that the veteran newswoman is having more than a few laughs over all the attention. Clearly doing the song was a joke. You've done stuff like read more

Abrams Reports for Duty:
MSNBC's legal correspondent on his transition to management

Dan Abrams, MSNBC

MSNBC marks its 10th year on the air this summer, but there isn't a lot to celebrate. Even with the muscle of NBC News behind it, the cable news network has lagged in third place behind Fox News Channel and CNN in recent years. The powers that be at 30 Rock hope to jump-start the operation with the surprising appointment of Dan Abrams as its new general manager. The network legal correspondent and host of The Abrams Report will run the day-to-day operation and report to Phil Griffin, a senior executive at NBC News who also keeps his eye on Today. The Biz talked to Abrams, son of well-known First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, about his new job behind the camera. So how was that first day?
Dan Abrams:
A lot of phone calls. A lot of interviews. But also a lot of walking around.  I'm trying to make it cl read more

This TV Season's Winners and Losers!

Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy, Matt LeBlanc of Joey

Put a fork in the 2005-06 TV season. For the fourth straight year, CBS was crowned the most watched network, with an average of 12.6 million viewers per week. Fox was able to crow as well — for the second year in a row it was No. 1 among viewers ages 18 to 49, the group most coveted by advertisers. ABC didn't come up with a new hit, but its audience grew as Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives remained hot, and Dancing with the Stars read more

Thursday-Night Lights
The networks get ready for a prime-time war

Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal

The networks and ad buyers on Madison Avenue are deep in negotiations over the price of commercial time for next fall's prime-time schedule, and at least a third of their $9 billion take (that is, the networks hope it'll be that much) will be spent on Thursday night. That explains why so many good shows this fall will be airing on the same night. It's looking like one of the great network-scheduling steel-cage matches in history: Grey's Anatomy vs. CSI vs. Deal or No Deal all battling it out at 9 pm/ET.

ABC could have gotten higher ratings if it left read more

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