The Chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Runaway Production Committee, Tribune's Dick Askin, wants to stem the flight of producers from California to Canada. But Tribune's syndicated action hours Andromeda, BeastMaster
and Earth: Final Conflict
are all produced north of the border.
A case of "do as I say, not as I do"? Hardly, says Askin. It was his frustration at the economics of having to go to Canada to produce those shows that prompted him to become involved in the issue. What's needed are tax breaks so producers can shoot in Hollywood, and he's lobbying for them.—J.E.
Everybody loves a high-profile case. The swarm of camera crews staking out the federal courthouse in Manhattan for a glimpse of Adelphia's Rigas clan last week paid little attention when a thin, balding man walked up and innocently asked who they were waiting for. They didn't recognize Federal Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, who was to arraign the Rigases later in the day. Gorenstein, of course, knew who the cameras were stalking since a dozen or so reporters had been hanging out in his courtroom all morning.—J.H.
NBC has been the laggard among the Big Three when it comes to prime time HD programming, but there are tentative plans to catch up this fall. The programs currently on the short list for HD broadcasts are Frasier, Crossing Jordan, In-Laws, Ed, American Dreams, Boomtown
and Hidden Hills. The trick will be sorting out who picks up the additional costs associated with HDTV.
In May, the network took its affiliate advisory board by surprise in proposing that affiliates pick up half the cost of converting shows to HDTV. The board rejected the idea, telling the network that it seemed inappropriate given that the other networks have found alternative funding. Other options include having the studios pay (at least one has tentatively agreed) or sponsorship by an electronics manufacturer. How it plays out remains to be seen, but for now it looks like HD will be hitting NBC's fall schedule. NBC's only comment was that funding is still an issue.—K.K., S.M.
Jonathan Adelstein could be confirmed to the FCC as early as next week. Last week, the White House and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) struck a deal that clears the way for McCain's candidate for the Federal Election Commission, Democrat Ellen Weintraub. After the agreement was struck, McCain lifted his holds on all nominations, clearing them for quick Senate approval. The Senate Commerce Committee last week approved Adelstein's nomination in an off-floor voice vote, and no other senators appear prepared to place further holds on nominees.
One of cable's top destinations for non-scripted fare, Discovery Channel, is getting into the movie business. New Discovery Networks President Billy Campbell (above), who oversees the company's 11 U.S. channels, says Discovery will start producing made-for-TV movies, likely three each a year for Discovery and co-owned Animal Planet. There aren't yet any scripts in development, but Campbell's connections to the creative world run deep. Before joining Discovery in June, he was president of Miramax Television and has held high posts at CBS Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. Animal Planet already is experimenting with fiction, including original movies and its first sitcom, Beware of Dog, which debuts next month.—A.R.