By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/1/2006 8:00:00 PM
NBC's 'Heroes' Evokes Rushdie's 'Children'
Some have already noted the undeniable similarities between NBC's new drama Heroes and Marvel Comics' X-Men franchise. But much about the show—in which seven strangers discover they have superpowers—bears an uncanny resemblance to another literary source: Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel Midnight's Children.
For those of you who skipped English class that week, Rushdie's novel recounts the history of the modern state of India through the fanciful tale of 1,001 children who were born at the stroke of midnight on Independence Day—“every one of whom was, through some freak of biology, or perhaps owing to some preternatural power of the moment … endowed with features, talents or faculties which can only be described as miraculous … powers of transmutation, flight, prophecy and wizardry.”
If you know the book and happened to catch the Heroes premiere last Monday, the Japanese man on the show who can bend time may have reminded you of the book's character with “the gift of traveling in time.” Or the series' young woman who has a dark relationship with mirrors may have brought to mind the book's character who can step into and emerge from “any reflective surface in the land.”
What's more, the young Indian geneticist on the show, who sets out to find and nurture the budding heroes, shares the name “Suresh” with the doctor in Midnight's Children who delivers the book's narrator into the world.
Alas, any Rushdie references are coincidental. Heroes creator Tim Kring pled “complete ignorance” when Flash! asked him about it, lamenting that one of the “tragedies ” of being a TV writer is having little time to be “a leisure reader by any stretch of the imagination.”
But really, who needs books when you've got TV?
A Shorter List
Discovery Communications is casting a wide net in its hunt for a replacement for CEO Judith McHale. While there's a short list of insiders—including Discovery Networks U.S. President Billy Campbell and Senior Executive VP of Operations Mark Hollinger—headhunters from Spencer Stuart are working through a long list of media executives outside the company.
Among those contacted in recent weeks are Fox Networks Group President/CEO Tony Viniquerra; ex-Nickelodeon Networks Chairman Herb Scannel; ex-MTV Networks President and current Interpublic Media President Mark Rosenthal; and former Court TV President Henry Schleiff (who's likely headed to the Hallmark Channel, see page 3). None have bitten.
But many Discovery insiders will be surprised by one flat-out “No”—Landmark Communications President/CEO Decker Anstrom. Even senior company executives have assumed that Anstrom was the top candidate because of the relationship he forged with Discovery's owners—Liberty Media, Cox Communications and Advance Newhouse—during his years as president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
But Anstrom wants that speculation to end: “I like my job. I am not a candidate, not interested.”
For other candidates, the lure of riches if Discovery goes public, as expected, may be offset by the deal-breaking stipulation that the CEO live near Discovery's Silver Spring, Md., headquarters.
Says an industry executive familiar with the search, “They don't want a CEO commuting to their family in L.A.”
If you glance at the New York Post Oct. 3, you might think that Manhattan is being invaded by freaks with bizarre superpowers who are on the Pentagon payroll.
Fear not. Comedy Central is putting fake covers on the Post and Daily News as part of a marketing blitz for its new series Freak Show. The animated show, debuting Oct. 4, features oddballs such as Tuck and Benny, conjoined twins with the power to separate, and Primi, a premature baby who can projectile vomit with stunning accuracy.
“We're aiming for the trendsetters and influencers,” says Comedy Director of Marketing and Advertising Neil Marks. Comedy will also distribute more than a million copies of a comic book written by Freak creators David Cross (Arrested Development) and H. Jon Benjamin.
Comedy is also toasting the 10th season of South Park, which premieres before Freak, with a MySpace page where users can design their own cut-out character, and banners on Madison Square Garden.
Marks didn't say whether banners will adorn Church of Scientology headquarters, too.
With Garth Johnston, John M. Higgins and Anne Becker
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