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TV Guide Net to Launch 'Hollywood’ Newsmag

The TV Guide Network is jumping into the daily entertainment news magazine world.

As part of its on-going effort to grow from a scrolling-listings channel to a destination for original programming, the network is launching Hollywood 411, a nightly show born out of its current behind-the-scenes show The 411.

Planned for a January 2008 launch, Hollywood 411 is tentatively set to run at 9 p.m. ET, keeping it out of the entertainment-news scrum airing in access time periods and allowing the show to cover news that develops later in the day.

While the network is still casting the hosts, it has hired Jerry Burke as senior executive producer of the show. Burke spent five years as executive producer of daytime programming at Fox News Channel and also has worked at Extra and VH1.

Network president Ryan O’Hara thinks the show is a natural extension of the brand, and will capitalize on an infrastructure that already shoots several shows out of the network’s Hollywood studio.

“Our live events like red carpet shows and Idol Tonight give us our best ratings,” says O’Hara. “Now we need to launch more new shows out of our tent poles.”

The new show comes at a time when the network, which reaches some 86 million homes, could find itself on the block. Although parent company Gemstar-TV Guide just launched a $20 million ad campaign to boost the brand, it also disclosed in July that it is considering offering itself up for sale.

Still, O’Hara is moving forward with a plan to green-light at least two more projects by the end of the year.

Muppet Manager

After the NewYork Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs last Monday, manager Joe Torre’s face was all over television the next day as news reports speculated on whether he’d be looking for a new job.

But Torre’s mug also happened to show up on an unusual TV outlet that same day: Sesame Street. On Tuesday, PBS repeated a 2005 episode of that national treasure in which Torre teaches Telly, the fuzzy fuchsia Muppet, how to catch a ball.

So was the scheduling a cheeky show of support from a Torre backer at PBS? Did Torre’s agent set it up to position the already-affable skipper as a good guy before his job hunt was to begin?

Neither. “It was a total coincidence. It had nothing to do with his career status,” said a PBS spokesperson, who explained that the public broadcaster schedules repeats about three months out, and this just happened to fall into place.

In the episode, Torre has to leave quickly to get back to the stadium where it’s the top of the ninth, the bases are loaded and “Mariano’s getting a little nervous.”

Given Torre’s uncertain future with the Bronx Bombers last week, pitcher Mariano Rivera—and a lot of Yankee fans—had plenty of reason to be nervous.

Family Act

Drew Carey may be the new face of the game-show renaissance, what with his debut Monday as the new host of daytime mainstay The Price Is Right and his primetime gig on CBSThe Power of 10.

But he is only the latest in a string of stand-up comics to jump into the ultimate family-friendly genre after telling the world’s most perverse joke about a family act.

By our count, Carey is the fourth comic to get a game-show gig after appearing in The Aristocrats, the 2005 documentary that features some 100 comics, actors and writers—and in one case, a mime—performing the titular joke. (No attempt to summarize it would do justice, so we’ll simply say: Fans of incest, bestiality and copriphilia, this is your joke.)

We noted the seeds of the trend a year ago, when Howie Mandel and Bob Saget became the respective hosts of NBC’s Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100. Since then, Penn Jillette, who co-produced, co-directed and appeared in The Aristocrats, has landed his own NBC game show, Identity.

So who’ll be the next Aristocrats alum to land a game show? E-mail your guess to BCPoll@reedbusiness.com.

With Ben Grossman

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