CBS LAUGHS IT UP
CBS, the only network that continues to show notable success with sitcoms -- its Monday night comedy lineup routinely beats the competition -- plans to add a second night of sitcoms on Wednesdays next season. The Worst Week will augment Monday's comedy schedule. (Ironically the show is being produced by NBC Universal Television; NBC turned it down.) The Wednesday-night shows include Project Gary, starring Jay Mohr, and the returning The New Adventures of Old Christine. TV columnist Lisa de Moraes noted in today's Washington Post that the recent writers' strike may have been a factor in CBS's decision to ramp up its comedies. "They tend to do things like come back from strikes stronger than dramas, probably because with virtually no continuing story line, no plot momentum is lost during three-month shutdowns," she wrote. The network is also adding three new dramas, including another show based on a British hit, Eleventh Hour. The other shows are The Mentalist, about a cop who uses intuition to solve cases, and The Ex List, about a woman who is told by a psychic she must find her future husband among the men she has dated in the past or be doomed to remain single for the rest of her life.
FOX ADDING A NEW DRAMA AND A NEW COMEDY
Fringe, a new sci-fi drama from J.J. Abrams of Lost fame, and The Inn, a comedy starring onetime child star Jerry O'Connell (Stand by Me), are set to make their debut on Fox in the fall season, the network said Wednesday. Its hit 24 will also be returning in 2009, along with its other hit lineup that made Fox the top-rated rated network this season, including the unscripted shows American Idol, Moment of Truth and Hell's Kitchen and dramas House and Bones.
CBS BUYS INTERNET PUBLISHER CNET FOR $1.8 BILLION
In a move that lifts it into the forefront of Internet publishers, CBS has agreed to acquire CNET Networks for about$1.8 billion in cash -- representing a 45-percent premium over CNET's current share price. In a statement, CBS chief Les Moonves said, "There are very few opportunities to acquire a profitable, growing well-managed Internet company like CNET Networks. ...CNET Networks will add a tremendous platform to extend our complementary entertainment, news, sports, music and information content to a whole new global audience."
AND NOW THERE ARE TWO
Seventeen-year-old David Archuleta and 25-year-old David Cook are the last two contestants still standing following the elimination of 21-year-old Syesha Mercado from the American Idol finals Wednesday night. The final contest is set to take place next Tuesday, with the winner to be announced the following night. Ratings for the show continued to show significant erosion from a year ago as it posted a rating of 15.5 and a 23 share, representing 26.4 million viewers. Earlier in the evening the contest between contests on CBS and NBC ended in a virtual draw as CBS's The Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular attracted 7.00 million viewers, while the first hour of NBC's Deal or No Deal drew 7.08 million. At 9:00, CBS pulled solid numbers with Criminal Minds opposite Idol, corralling 12.6 million viewers.
OFFICIALS HIT HBO DOCUMENTARY ON FLORIDA RECOUNT
Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who represented the Al Gore team during the 2004 Florida recount, has denounced the HBO drama Recount, scheduled to air on May 25. In an interview with today's (Thursday) New York Times, Christopher said that he had asked to see a script of the film before production began but never received one. After reviewing a transcript provided by the Times, Christopher said that he was stunned. "Much of what the author has written about me is pure fiction," he said. "It contained events that never occurred, words I never spoke and decisions attributed to me that I never made." Bill Daley, Gore's campaign chairman, who said that the filmmakers agreed to make changes in the script about his role in the recount, called the depiction of Christopher "absolute fantasy." Even James Baker, the chief Republican adviser at the time, who is depicted in the film as outsmarting Christopher at every turn, commented, "I don't think I was as ruthless as the movie portrays me, and I know he was not as wimpish as it makes him appear." Screenwriter Danny Strong, who interviewed the three men, acknowledged that he decided not to send Christopher the script "because I didn't feel that he was being totally candid in our interview." Meanwhile, the drama is getting some solid reviews. Syndicated columnist Liz Smith called it "one of the most viscerally powerful, fast-moving, literate, magnificently acted roller-coaster rides ever put on-screen."
U.K. POLICE AND PROSECUTION SETTLE LIBEL SUIT BY TV PRODUCERS
In an astounding concession by U.K. public officials, police and prosecution authorities have agreed to pay the producers of a TV documentary $200,000 to settle a libel suit and apologize to them in court. West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service had accused the producers of editing their documentary, Undercover Mosque, to "completely distort" the comments of British imams appearing in it, filmed with hidden cameras. (One imam was seen remarking, "As for the Jews, you kill them physically." Another praised the beheading of a British soldier, saying, "The hero of Islam is the one who separated his head from his shoulders.") The officials also sent their complaints about the program, produced by Hardcash Productions for Channel Four, to OFCOM, Britain's broadcasting regulator. It dismissed the complaints, calling the documentary "a legitimate investigation." The producers then sued sued the officials for libel.