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
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 YouTube.com 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.
TVGuide.com: Clearly doing the song was a joke. You've done stuff like
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.
TVGuide.com: 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
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
Hugh Laurie, House
Put a fork in the recent TV season — it officially ended on May 24, so now it's time to tally the results. For the fourth straight year, CBS was crowned the most-watched network, with an average of 12.6 million viewers per week. While the network didn't score any smash hits, new shows such as Criminal Minds, The Unit and Ghost Whisperer were solid ratings performers.
Fox was able to crow as well: for the second year in a row it was No. 1 among viewers aged 18 to 49, the group most coveted by advertisers. But this year the network won the demo race wi
After Charles Gibson was named anchor of ABC World News Tonight, he got a call from a colleague saying, "The tortoise has won the race." Indeed, after all the hype about traveling anchors, webcasts and updates for the West Coast, the network turned to its most experienced and least flashy veteran to head its flagship broadcast. Gibson takes over for Elizabeth Vargas, who has been flying solo since coanchor Bob Woodruff sustained
Brad Garrett, 'Til Death
After attending the networks' upfront presentations all week, the Biz has this analysis of the coming season. (Click here for next fall's grid and new-show descriptions.)
You've got to wonder what went wrong in CW's new-series development process if the network had to bring back 7th Heaven — even though the show lost a reported $16 million for WB this past season.
But the decision to have CW's inaugural schedule made up of established shows from WB and UPN may end up being a blessing. Many of the shows have small but rabid followings, and promoting new shows on a new network will be tough. The fans of shows like One Tree Hill and Veronica Mars will track them down on their own. Viewers in the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that CW targets don't watch networks, they watch shows. (According to recent survey, only one in four 1
It's crunch time in the network scheduling rooms, as many questions are being asked about next season. Will Grey's Anatomy go to Monday nights? Will Lost start in November, to cut down on repeats during the season? Is Wayne Brady getting another show? The answers will come next week. We hear there wasn't a lot of laughing during the executive screenings of most of the season's comedy pilots, but here's what industry insiders say are the hottest of that tepid lot. (Click here to read about the drama-pilot buzz.)
NBC: The Peacock network is only expected to add two sitcoms. One is the still-untitled show from Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey — a workplace comedy set behind the scenes of a
Angie Harmon, Secrets of a Small Town
It's that time of year again: Network executives are spending these lovely spring days in dark screening rooms, searching for next fall's big hit. As we approach the mid-May unveiling of the new 2006-07 prime-time schedules, the Biz is here to provide you with an early glimpse of which drama pilots are heating up. We'll report on the sitcoms next week.
ABC: Secrets of a Small Town — a drama starring Angie Harmon about a small town whose residents have plenty of skeletons in the closet — is believed to have the inside track for the Sunday-night slot after Desperate Housewives. (It's now a given that the network will move the superhot Grey's Anatomy to another night where it can help launch a new show.) Also hot are Six Degrees — another ensemble soap about six strangers whose lives intertwine in New York — and Traveler, about three graduate students involved in a national-security emergency.
Chris Hansen, Dateline NBC
Dateline NBC's investigative series "To Catch a Predator" has given new meaning to the term guilty pleasure. Several times over the past two years, the newsmagazine has set up hidden cameras in private homes to watch as Internet watchdog group Perverted Justice targets men looking to have sex with underage boys and girls. Responding to decoys in online chat rooms, men show up at the houses of their would-be victims with refreshments in hand, thinking they're about to satisfy their creepy urges. Instead, they're confronted by black-turtleneck-clad Dateline correspondent Chris Hansen, a camera crew and the realization that they've likely just ruined the rest of their lives. What makes "To Catch a Predator" compelling is how normal some of the suspects look and what respectable jobs they hold — teacher, rabbi, Homeland Security employee. Millions have watched the first three installments, so some of the men even know what they're in for the moment they're confronted b