FOURTH-PLACE NBC SHOWS OFF ONLY FIVE NEW SHOWS
Despite conspicuous weaknesses throughout its schedule, NBC on Monday unveiled only five new dramas and one new comedy for its upcoming fall schedule. At a news conference in New York, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly explained, "Loading up on product is not necessarily a recipe for success" since each new show would have to be promoted -- leading to a plethora of "clutter" on the network. The new shows include Journeyman, Chuck, Life, Lipstick Jungle, The IT Crowd (the only comedy), and a "reimagination" of The Bionic Woman. The network also indicated that it is developing a Heroes spin-off, titled Heroes: Origins. In addition, the network will be dropping Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the show it appeared to have the greatest hopes for when it announced its fall schedule a year ago. Also leaving the lineup will be Donald Trump's The Apprentice, although Reilley suggested that another show from Trump will take its place. "We want to be in business with Donald," Reilly said. "He has a certain magic." Meanwhile, a Trump representative told TV Guide, "We've actually been approached by one of the other three broadcast networks, should NBC pass."
KING OF QUEENS GETS ROYAL SEND-OFF IN RATINGS
The one-hour series finale of CBS's King of Queens drew a solid 8.8 rating and a 13 share Monday night, representing 13.5 million viewers -- some of them drawn away from the competing Heroes on NBC and 24 on Fox. ABC's Dancing With the Stars continued to dominate Monday night, however, as it wound up with a 12.8 rating and a 20 share -- or 19.27 million viewers.
MURDOCH PROMISES EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE OF WALL ST. JOURNAL
Rupert Murdoch has stepped up his efforts to convince the Bancroft family -- which owns The Wall Street Journal and the Dow Jones News Service -- that he intends to foster the editorial independence of the Journal. In a letter to family members, Murdoch said, "Any interference -- or even hint of interference -- would break the trust that exists between the paper and its readers, something I am unwilling to countenance." He made no mention of how the paper might interact with a Wall Street Journal Channel, the name he has said he intends to give to his planned Fox Business Channel if his takeover of the newspaper succeeds. Some analysts forecast that Murdoch's letter -- his third to the shareholders -- would hold sway with members of the Bancroft family. Richard Dorfman, managing director of Richard Alan Inc., an investment firm that focuses on the entertainment business, told Bloomberg News: "The pressure will build. My guess is: He will get the company." Entertainment media analyst Hal Vogel put Murdoch's chances of winning at "better than 50-50."
THOMPSON LIKELY TO LEAVE LAW & ORDER
Regardless of whether he decides to run for president, Fred Thompson is not likely to return to NBC's Law & Order next season, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said Monday. Under FCC equal-time rules, the network would have to give all other candidates running against Thompson the same amount of time that he received on the drama. The candidates could use that time to further their cause even if Thompson himself voiced no political opinion on Law & Order.
SUNDAY-MORNING NEWS SHOWS STILL WHITE AND MALE
Nearly two years after the National Urban League Policy Institute produced a study concluding that nine out of ten guests appearing on the Sunday-morning network talk shows are white, a study by the liberal watchdog Media Matters indicated Monday that things haven't changed at all. Releasing its own study, the group concluded: "Not only are the Sunday morning talk shows on the broadcast networks dominated by conservative opinion and commentary, the four programs -- NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male." In particular the group noted that while Hispanics make up 14 percent of the population, "only 1 percent of the guests on the Sunday shows in the past two years were Latino."
GOT A TV IDEA? SEND IT TO MARK CUBAN
While most media companies, fearing copyright suits, discourage the general public from submitting unsolicited scripts and program ideas -- and indeed usually return such submissions or discard them -- Mark Cuban, the owner of HDNet, said on his website Monday that "one of the fun things" he does at the channel is reading ideas for new shows. Cuban, who also owns the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, gives this advice to anyone wanting to submit an idea to him: "I don't need to be pitched another cooking, poker, pimp my whatever, American Idol knockoff, nor do I want to hear another 'compete for a Mavs roster spot' or 'business plan competition idea.' What I would like to read are original show ideas. So post them if you got them."
WINFREY WARNS: BEWARE OF THE SUITS
In a commencement address aimed at inspiring Howard University graduates to remain true to themselves, Oprah Winfrey revealed Saturday that early in her career television executives had tried to persuade her to change her name. "'We think Suzie is a good name,'" she said they told her, because it sounded friendly and was easy to remember. "'People can relate to "Suzie."' ... [I said,] 'I think I'll keep my name whether people will remember it or not. It is my name.'" Winfrey said that she received similar mandates from executives when she began The Oprah Winfrey Show, but she said she told co-workers, "We will chart our own course. We will stand for what we believe, and 21 years later, we're still the No. 1 show." Finally, she told the cheering audience, "Don't be a slave to any form of selling out."
BBC SCIENTOLOGY DOCUMENTARY LANDS BIG AUDIENCE
The BBC's controversial documentary about Scientology, broadcast on its Panorama magazine program Monday night drew 19 percent of the British television audience -- representing 4.4 million viewers, published reports said today (Tuesday). While Scientology continues to be a hot-button topic, viewers reportedly were drawn to the program by reports that John Sweeney, the journalists who fronted the feature, blew up at a Scientology official during an interview. Sweeney and his BBC crew were trailed by a Scientology camera crew who made their own film about the encounter. A Scientology official said today (Tuesday) that the organization is considering filing legal action and a complaint with the U.K. media regulator OFCOM.