The Biz


The Race Is On! NBC's Brian Williams on his first big prime-time election showdown

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News

On Nov. 7, the three broadcast-network news anchors will be having their first prime-time showdown covering the midterm elections. NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric will all be in their respective chairs for live, hourlong specials at 10 pm/ET and PT. It will only heighten the attention that's been focused on evening news since the ballyhooed arrival of Couric. After sustaining an early hit from Couric's debut, Williams has made a ratings comeback, and NBC Nightly News is back at No. 1, recently earning its strongest ratings among viewers aged 25-to-54 since March. The Biz checked in with Williams as he prepared for one of his favorite nights of the year. 

TVGuide.com: Midterm elections usually aren't too sexy. Yet it seems like there is a lot more attention on it this year, not just because of the nature of the races, but also because it feels like an opening read more

Dawn of a Network
The CW's prez Dawn Ostroff discusses her season so far

America's Next Top Model

The CW, the green offspring of the merged WB and UPN networks, is now five weeks old. That's a lifetime to the 18- to 34-year-olds it's targeting, so the Biz thought it was a good time to ask the CW's entertainment president Dawn Ostroff how it's going.

TVGuide.com: How do you assess the year so far?
Dawn Ostroff:
I think we're pretty happy with where we are. We got off to a solid start. What we said all along is that what we really want to see by the end of the season is to have a little bit of growth over what UPN or WB would have had. Right now we have a little bit of growth over them in 18- to 34-year-olds. We knew the migration was going to be a huge undertaking. The best way to describe it is that it would be as if you woke up one day and 67 percent of the country was told, "Oh, you're going to see CSI on a different channel." It's a big ordeal to move all of these viewers, tell them there is a new network, and tell them you need to find a new show on a new s read more

The Midas Touchstone
ABC's production company is on a hot streak

Becki Newton, Michael Urie, America Ferrera, Ugly Betty

It's been a rocky TV season for new shows, but one studio isn't complaining. Touchstone Television, the TV production arm of ABC parent Walt Disney, has just seen two of its new entries, Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters get full-season pickups. Its returning shows aren't doing too shabby either. Grey's Anatomy was asked to do battle against CSI on Thursday and has more than met the challenge, becoming the No. 1-rated show in prime time (making it one of four Touchstone shows in the top 10, with Desperate Housewives, Lost and CBS' Criminal Minds). Even last season's mid-season sleeper What About Brian is picking up f read more

Chris Wallace: YouTube Star The Fox News host on how online video spread his Clinton interview

Chris Wallace and Bill Clinton, Fox News Sunday

When Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace set off Bill Clinton by asking why the former president failed to catch Osama bin Laden, the reverberations were felt on the Internet like no other political interview. YouTube rang up 800,000 views of the fiery chat the day after its Sept. 24 airing — keeping the exchange in the public consciousness for days. The Biz recently talked to Wallace, who will be providing election-night analysis for Fox News Channel, about the Web's growing role as a political tool.

TVGuide.com: How does it feel to be an Internet star?
Chris Wallace:
Even I'm getting sick of me at this point.

TVGuide.com: It shouldn't be a surprise to you that Google made a deal to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion, now that you have a first-hand experience of what it can do.
Wallace:
It's fascinating. We had a problem. We did the interview with President Clinton late on a Friday afternoon. Our show appears on the Fox broadcast networ read more

Winners and Losers
Early results for the season's new shows

Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights

Fumble! You can bet that was one of the many football clichés that rang through the halls of NBC's competitors when the ratings for the premiere of Friday Night Lights came in. Despite rave reviews and a promotional blitz (couldn't resist), the new series about Texas high-school football drew 7.2 million viewers and finished behind ABC's Dancing with the Stars and CBS' NCIS in the 18-to-49 demographic that advertisers care about most.

But every network has got some issues to deal with as new shows continue to roll out this fall. Here's an early run through the ratings winners and losers so far.

Winners
Heroes: Sci-fi fans have turned this into what looks like a breakout hit. Even though the show dropped more than two million viewers from its premiere, it was still very read more

Jericho Exec Balances Good and Bad News

Skeet Ulrich, Jericho

The new CBS drama Jericho has a good-news/bad-news message. The good news is that you can survive a nuclear attack. The bad news is it’s not a lot of fun afterwards. But the whole “what if” nature of Jericho — set in a small town that is cut off from the rest of the world after a nuclear strike — is what makes it one of the more intriguing concepts of the new season. The Biz talked to executive producer Jon Turteltaub about why he thinks it’s the right time to go nuclear in prime time.

TVGuide.com: A lot of people are going to compare this show to the 1983 TV-movie The Day After, which was also about how a nuclear attack affects a Kansas town. 

Jon Turteltaub: The main difference is we’re not doing a show about people walking around with their hair falling out. It’s about what you do when you survive it. It could be any place that gets cut off. read more

She's Come a Long Way, Baby 20/20's Lynn Sherr on women's slow progress in TV news

Lynn Sherr

If you want to know the significance of Katie Couric's rise to become the first female anchor of CBS Evening News, just ask Lynn Sherr. The longtime ABC News correspondent for 20/20 can remember being told by past bosses that the idea of having a female in such a role was ridiculous. She recounts her career climb against in-your-face sexism in her new memoir Outside the Box: A Memoir (released by Rodale Press this month) and recently shared her thoughts with the Biz.

TVGuide.com: What do you think of Katie Couric's performance so far on CBS Evening News?
Lynn Sherr: Katie's a professional. She's got reporting experience and anchoring experience, and she's a perfectly good anchor. What's sad is that it took this long to have a solo female anchor. The truth read more

Vieira's Views
Today's new cohost readies herself for the spotlight

Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, Today

Can Meredith Vieira be Meredith Vieira?

That could be the biggest challenge ahead for Today's new coanchor, who starts Sept. 13. The former moderator of The View has already learned that her free-wheeling opinions will be under a microscope in her new job. She found out the hard way after an interview that recently ran in Time magazine, which quoted her saying that her old show turned into "a joke" after her departure. The remark spent a weekend as a headline on the Drudge Report and became fodder for the New York tabloids.

Vieira's answer was taken out of context — Time even ran a clarification — but she still had to apologize to View den mother Barbara Walters, who was more than a little s read more

Dick Cavett Looks Back
The classy talk-show host remembers his Hollywood Greats

Dick Cavett

In the 1960s and '70s, Dick Cavett was the thinking person's talk-show host. His well-received daytime program on ABC led to a late-night stint that lasted five years. The Dick Cavett Show never challenged NBC's Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the ratings, but its high-profile guests often generated plenty of buzz. Luckily, many of his most memorable chats are available on DVD. The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats, featuring interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx, Robert Mitchum, Katharine Hepburn and others, will be released on Sept. 12, and starting that month you can also catch reruns on Turner Classic Movies. Cavett has also re-created his old show in a new hourlong sp read more

Solemn Anniversary Fox News' Shepard Smith revisits the Katrina-ravaged South

Shepard Smith, Fox News

If you think Fox News' Shepard Smith takes Hurricane Katrina personally, you're right. The smooth-talking anchor is from Holly Springs, Mississippi, and for him, the devastating storm and its aftermath is the natural-disaster equivalent of 9/11. Smith is heading back to the disaster-struck region to lead Fox's weeklong coverage of the first anniversary of Katrina, which Fox is airing under the hopeful title of America's Challenge: Rebuilding the Gulf. When he does his daily shows, Studio B and The Fox Report, in New Orleans and Mississippi from Aug. 28 through 31, Smith wants to highlight the pockets of success in the rebuilding effort. But he's also realistic enough to know that for most of the area's residents, life will never be the same. Smith recently talked to the Biz about what it means to go back to New Orleans and Mississippi.

TVGuide.com: There have been all thes read more

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