'Deal' May Go to Telemundo
Seen as entry to Spanish-language market
Endemol USA, which produces game show Deal or No Deal, is in advanced discussions with Telemundo to bring a version of the show to the Spanish- language network, according to people familiar with discussions.
The show, which is joining the NBC schedule after the Olympics, could air on Telemundo as early as this year. A Telemundo spokesman declined to comment on the project but did acknowledge via e-mail that the network is “looking to grow our presence in the game-show genre.”
Scott St. John, executive producer of the NBC version of the show, says he was aware of the proposed Telemundo version but would not be involved. Endemol USA President David Goldberg says the Telemundo version would have a separate production team.
On the NBC version, hosted by Howie Mandel, contestants seek a $1 million top prize by picking from closed briefcases filled with varying amounts of cash, starting at $1. However, the Telemundo show would have smaller monetary rewards, because the show would not be as expensive a production as its NBC counterpart.
According to Goldberg, having Deal on Telemundo would represent the first Endemol format produced by Endemol USA in the U.S. for a Spanish-language broadcaster. “When we sold the show to NBC, we were really specific about our desire to sell the show to Telemundo as well because of our interest in getting into the Spanish- language U.S. broadcast market,” he says. “That has been a goal for some time.”—Ben Grossman
Dunn's Done at Nick
Another senior executive is leaving Nickelodeon. Following the departure of Nickelodeon Networks President Herb Scannell, Jeff Dunn is planning to exit the network, according to people familiar with the situation.
Dunn, who has been with Nick since 1993, is group COO/president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, putting him in charge of all of the Nick Group's operations and strategy and non-TV businesses, including online, movies and licensing of Nick characters.
Dunn's exit coincides with the rise of Cyma Zarghami, the recently promoted president of MTV Networks' newly christened Kids & Family group. Previously president of Nickelodeon Television, Zarghami is taking on the bulk of Scannell's old duties, including oversight of Dunn's unit. Scannell had for years given Dunn substantial autonomy. That's not the style of Zarghami, who favors a more hands-on approach. A Nickelodeon spokesman says that “Jeff Dunn has not left the company,” declining to comment further. —John M. Higgins
ABC News To Use Viewer Video Online
ABC News Digital Media is launching Seen and Heard in America, an online service that will incorporate viewers' video footage from cellphones into ABC News coverage on multiple platforms.
The service was first used during the U.S. presidential inauguration ceremonies in 2005 when ABC gave selected crowd members video-equipped cellphones to report from along the parade route. Footage was also used in coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the London bus bombings.
The full-time launch is timed to coincide with President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Viewer-submitted video footage is edited by ABC News and will be incorporated into World News Tonight between 9 and 11p.m.; ABC News' special coverage before and after the State of the Union address; on Nightline after the Democratic response; and on Good Morning America Wednesday morning.
ABCNews.com and online partner AOLnews.com will offer access to viewers' video and text submissions. For the State of the Union coverage, each opened their sites and e-mail for submissions of video commentary on Saturday and will continue until Good Morning America airs on Wednesday.
The ticker on ABC News Now will include text of viewer comments throughout the president's address, the Democratic response, and Politics Live with Sam Donaldson.
ABC News Now is available on cellphones through MobiTV, GOTV and Sprint TV Live. The State of the Union will be presented live from Washington at 9 p.m. ET. —Melanie M. Clarke
Former Fox Host Bennett Joins CNN
Onetime Fox commentator Bill Bennett has found a new home at CNN.
The cable news network has named the conservative former Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan as a contributing commentator.
Two weeks ago, co-owned CNN Headline News announced it was adding conservative talker Glenn Beck to its lineup as a regular contributor.
Bennett is scheduled to make his first extended appearance commenting on the State of the Union address Jan. 31.
Bennett fills the conservative seat vacated by former CNN commentator Robert Novak, who left at the end of December.—John Eggerton
McDowell Likely FCC Nominee
Robert McDowell, senior VP and general counsel of telecom association Comptel, is likely to be the Bush administration's pick for the remaining empty seat on the FCC, according to a source familiar with the appointment.
Comptel is headed by Earl Comstock, himself a former leading contender for the FCC chairmanship and a favorite of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who heads the powerful Senate Commerce Committee and who also suggested McDowell's name.
Comptel was formed in 1981 to promote competition to AT&T and grew to include wireless companies and ISPs.
He would fill the seat vacated by Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, who left last month, and give Republican Martin the majority he has lacked since he took over the center seat last March.—J.E.
Kerger Succeeds Mitchell Atop PBS
Paula Kerger, executive VP/chief operating officer of Educational Broadcasting System, licensee of noncommercial WNET and WLIW New York, has been named to succeed Pat Mitchell as president/CEO of PBS next month.
PBS had been widely expected to pick someone from within the station ranks. WNET is one of the principal programmers for the system.
Mitchell, whose contract is up in June, will head the Museum of Television & Radio in New York, starting in March.
Kerger joined EBS in 1993 as VP, director of development and government affairs, for WNET and was named VP/station manager in 2002.—J.E.
Michael Jackson Heads to Diller's IAC
Barry Diller tapped former Universal Television Group Chairman Michael Jackson to head programming for IAC/InterActive Corp. He will be looking to develop programming for traditional and nontraditional platforms.
IAC owns home shopper HSN and Web site Ask Jeeves.
Jackson joined USA Networks in 2001 and was named chairman of the Universal Television Group following the merger of USA with Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE). He exited with the merger with NBC in 2004.
Diller had left as chairman of VUE the year before to stake his claim in the interactive-online space.
Programming developed under Jackson's watch at USA included Monk and The Dead Zone.—J.E.
MTV Divides Along New-Media Lines
MTV will split its programming staff into two parts, one devoted to long-form TV programming, the other to short-form for multiple platforms.
The organizational restructuring comes as the youth-targeted MTV continues to push its programming on new media including online, VOD, broadband and wireless.
In giving “equal footing” to content on TV and other platforms, the network is setting up the model for how the company will develop and distribute content, according to Brian Graden, president of entertainment, MTV Networks Music Group (and president of Logo).
Division has been a theme for the company in 2006, with parent Viacom having just split from CBS.—Anne Becker
NBC Closes 'Book of Daniel'
NBC has pulled the plug on midseason drama Book of Daniel, with no further episodes currently scheduled.
The controversial show, featuring Aidan Quinn as an Episcopal priest with a challenging family life, aired its fourth and final episode Jan. 20.
The show averaged just a 2.3 rating/6 share in the 18-49 demo over its three-week run (the first week featured two episodes back to back).—B.G.
'Commander' Goes on Leave
ABC is sidelining Commander in Chief and premiering back-to-back episodes of midseason comedy Sons & Daughters in its Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot on March 7.
The network says Commander will return in the spring and would have been running repeats for most of its hiatus anyway. ABC has 12 episodes of Sons & Daughters, so, if it runs two every Tuesday, Commander will be off the air for at least six weeks.
The move comes on the heels of ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson's addressing the show's ratings challenges, despite star Geena Davis' recent Golden Globes win for her role as president of the United States.
“Obviously, we're disappointed in Commander ticking down the last few weeks,” he said on Jan. 21 at the Television Critics Association press tour. “I think being off for so long, not being able to hit it with aggressive marketing, given our midseason launch has hurt it. We feel like we've got to get the viewers back in there and get the demo back in there.”
ABC used a similar strategy last year, when it sidelined Boston Legal and replaced it with Grey's Anatomy. Boston Legal did not return for the remainder of the season.—B.G.
Nickelodeon says licensing of its characters for food products accounts for just 3% of merchandising revenues. The Jan. 23 Money Talks column about an activist campaign over food advertising to kids overstated the threat to Nickelodeon's advertising and merchandising revenues. In addition, Nick-At-Nite's target audience was incorrectly identified. The programming block targets adults 18-49.