FOX TROTS OUT NEW SHOWS

Fox unveiled seven new scripted shows for next season Thursday, but viewers will have to wait until January to see four of them. For most of the fall, viewers will be getting a somewhat reduced diet of baseball playoffs and unscripted reality series. They will also be able to check out two new dramas, K-Ville and New Amsterdam and the Kelsey Grammer-Patricia Heaton sitcom Back to You. However, the most anticipated new entry, The Sarah Connor Chronicles will not debut until January. When it does, it will take over the time period that The X-Files once dominated, Sundays at 9:00 p.m. and will air without repeats. Meeting with reporters, Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori said Thursday, "It's always better to take your precious creative gems and try to run them straight through." Meanwhile, Fox has decided not to use the post-Super Bowl spot to promote one of its new series. Instead, the slot will go to its hit drama series House.

NBC PLACES BET ON MOBILE PHONE TELECAST

While mobile phone users have thus far shown little interest in watching TV programming on them, NBC may have identified a large niche audience that could find such programming appealing: gamblers. NBC announced Thursday that it plans to make its coverage of the Preakness Stakes horse race available live via Verizon's V-Cast Mobile TV service. While gambling was not mentioned in its release, it appeared obvious that there could be wide interest in checking out the race results among those who place legal -- and illegal -- bets on the outcome. The mobile telecast will be available in 30 markets, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Atlanta, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

RATINGS FOR ZAHN'S CNN SHOW TUMBLE

Ratings for Paula Zahn's news program on CNN averaged fewer than 400,000 viewers over an entire week, dipping to just 378,000 viewers on Wednesday. The TVNewser website suggested that it may have been Zahn's worst performance ever. The number of viewers tuning in dropped by more than 300,000 from CNN's 7:00 p.m. lead-in, as Zahn was trounced by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, who drew twice the number of viewers and Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel, who drew eight times the number.

GENERAL LEE RETURNS TO EBAY

John Schneider's General Lee car is going back on eBay this weekend -- this time with a private company pre-approving all bidders. The car, made famous in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series, had sold for $10 million earlier this month, but the bid turned out to be fraudulent, according to Schneider, who said that he planned to sue the bidder. The celebrity website TMZ said Thursday that Schneider intends to turn over "a portion" of the auction proceeds to the Pepperdine University Boone Center for the Family. He had said in the past that he planned to use the money to finance a movie.

LG SHUTTING DOWN PLASMA DISPLAY PLANT

Reflecting the cutthroat competition among manufacturers of big-screen TV sets, Korea's LG Electronics announced today (Friday) that it plans to halt production of plasma displays at its oldest plant in Seoul following a record first-quarter loss. Analysts say that LG and other manufacturers have created an oversupply of plasma displays, which are selling at prices so low that leave little room for profit. "LG boosted capacity too quickly trying to get the upper hand, rather than match its pace with industry growth,'' Lee Seung Jun of C.J. Asset Management Co. in Seoul told Bloomberg News.

AMERICAN IDOL WINNER IN PURPLE ADORED BY VETERAN CRITIC

In an uncommon follow-up review, veteran theater critic Clive Barnes has extolled the performance of 22-year-old American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino in The Color People. "That she could sing, we knew," the 80-year-old New York Post critic writes in today's (Friday) edition. "But that she could act, and act so wonderfully, so tenderly, so touchingly, so effortlessly -- that came as a surprise." Barnes, who began his career as a critic in England in 1956, served as the New York Times' drama critic from 1967-77 and the New York Post's since 1978, confesses in his review: "I feel a lot in the theater -- I wouldn't stick in this business if I didn't -- but usually I don't cry. With this performance, I found tears running down my cheeks." He concludes, "If you haven't seen The Color Purple, see it now; if you have seen it, see it again. Something extraordinary is happening at the Broadway Theatre that is not to be missed."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.