Fast Track


People Meeter

Touchstone Television President Stephen McPherson has been tapped to head the Touchstone Television/ABC Directing Initiative, which will work to promote the hiring of women and minority directors at both the studio and the TV network.

Touchstone and ABC will work with the Directors Guild of America to place at least 10 selected directors from Touchstone/ABC's Seasoned Directors program on an ABC comedy or drama. The chosen directors are guaranteed an initial commitment of 20 episodes—10 comedy and 10 drama—with no limit on the number of future commitments. ...

Patti Hassler was named executive editor of 60 Minutes, replacing Josh Howard. Hassler helped launch 60 Minutes II as senior producer and was later named executive editor. Also, Mary Murphy, executive producer for 60 Minutes II, will take on the role of senior broadcast producer. The announcement was made by Howard, who will take over as executive producer upon Murphy's departure in June. Murphy has been senior editor of CBS News' Campaign 2004 unit.

Days and Nights of Rocco

Rocco DiSpirito, star of NBC's unscripted drama The Restaurant, will make a cameo appearance April 28 on NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives. He plays himself helping lovelorn Rex surprise his girlfriend Mimi with a dinner by candlelight. The Restaurant's second season begins on Monday April 19 at 10 p.m. with six new episodes.

The Show Business

Fox's Wonderfalls, UPN's Game Over and CBS's The Stones are the latest midseason entries to land on TV's trash heap. It's a big pile this year. Usually something sticks…

For the summer, NBC is sticking with a tried-and-true reality slate to keep summer hot. Returning are Bruce Nash's For Love or Money and Who Wants To Marry My Dad? as well as Jay Mohr's Last Comic Standing. A new addition to NBC's summer reality slate is GRB's Next Action Star, which was announced last year but hasn't made its way onto the network until now. NBC will debut sitcom Come to Papa, starring comedian Tom Papa, on Thursday June 3 at 8:30 p.m., behind the lead-in of the network's final summer reruns of Friends.

NBC will bridge its summer season with the 2004 Summer Olympics, airing August 13-29, and then immediately kick off its fall season in early September.

The Ratings Game

Ratings for the final non–nail-biting game of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on CBS April 5 were down 13% from a year ago; the overall tournament posted a 24% gain, according to the network. Last Monday night's lopsided win by University of Connecticut over Georgia Tech averaged an 11.0 rating/18 share, versus a 12.6/19 for last year's final between Syracuse and Kansas. The entire tourney averaged a 6.2/14, versus a 5.0/10 last year. ...

USA Network's original movie Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss, starring Sopranos daughter Jamie Lynn DiScala, attracted a fat (for cable) 3.65 million viewers March 29.


The newscast at KGO San Francisco was fined for indecency for a newscast incident. Another fine was incorrectly attributed to KCAL Los Angeles on page 3 of the April 5 edition.

A technology story on page 23 of the April 5 issue should have said WPXI Pittsburgh was using Sundance Digital's NewsRecorder system to repackage its newscast. The product was incorrectly identified.