Studios USA Domestic TV, producer of Jerry Springer
and Sally Jessy Raphael
syndicated talk shows, is expected to move its headquarters back to the Universal Studios lot, the Hollywood lot where it originated.
Insiders say the move is likely the precursor to Vivendi Universal efforts to combine syndicator Studios USA with Universal Worldwide TV; the syndication division currently is housed on the Universal lot. Universal Worldwide TV is the distributor of Blind Date, The 5thWheel
and Universal movie packages. The rumblings come in the wake of Vivendi Universal's $10 billion acquisition of USA Networks' entertainment assets. Studios USA, which runs both a network and syndicated-TV division, was itself once Universal TV prior to being acquired by Barry Diller's USA Networks. Insiders say that Vivendi Universal executives are currently deciding who will run the combined unit and that some job cuts are expected. Studios USA is currently housed in West Hollywood. Universal and Studios USA executives had no comment.—J.S.
New Line Television is coming to NATPE armed with a powerful new movie lineup that includes blockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(below). The package includes Rush Hour 2, Life as a House, Blow
and Sean Penn's I Am Sam.
"It has some of the most visible titles from the past year. It certainly has great potential," says Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming, Katz TV Group. Some titles will be available starting in 2003, though likely not Fellowship
or Rush Hour 2.
Two sequels in the Ring
series will be in future New Line packages. New Line also is offering "13 Thrillers," featuring three Nightmare onElm Street
movies. At the same time, its weekend action series SirArthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World
is cleared for a fourth season with 70% coverage, including Tribune stations, says New Line's David Spiegelman.—J.S.
Executives of the Nielsen companies' meeting in Phoenix rated a special visitor: Art Nielsen Jr., former CEO and son of founder A.C. Nielsen. Now in his 80s and living near Chicago, Nielsen retired in the early 1980s and hasn't attended such a meeting in years. "He talked about a number of people who've worked with us," said an attendee, "and he spoke of the values of the company. He's very frail, but to see him up there—a link with the past, with the founder—was very touching."—D.T.
WE Knew this
The Game Show Network is developing Telepathy, a new game that teams family members, best friends and other "connected" pairs in telepathic competition with each other. The project comes, appropriately, from a pair of producers, Arthur Smith and Kent Weed. "It's a communication game with some Match Game
and some Password
elements," Smith says. The two also created You Gotta See This
for Fox Sports Net and are working on a comedy pilot, Limo Scene,
Mergers under glass
Sources say the Senate soon will take a magnifying glass to mega media mergers Comcast-AT&T Broadband and EchoStar-Hughes Electronics (DirecTV). Word is, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, plans to hold three hearings next month: one on AT&T Comcast, one on EchoStar-DirecTV and one on broadband availability. Kohl's office confirms that hearings are being considered, but a spokeswoman says nothing is firm yet.—P.A.