Fast Track

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The Clearinghouse

Buena Vista Television's My Wife and Kids is selling fast, with the show cleared in 25 markets, including 15 of the top 20, and more than 45% of the country for a fall 2005 launch, said Janice Marinelli, president of Buena Vista Television. Major station groups Tribune, Paramount
and Sinclair all have cleared the show. Buena Vista plans several more off-net launches, including the Touchstone-produced Scrubs in either fall 2005 or 2006 and the ABC Tuesday night comedy block in fall 2007. …

Telco Productions
has cleared its weekly half-hour series Missing in more than 75% of the country for a fall 2003 launch, according to Telco President Alex Paen. Telco recently added independent WCIU-TV Chicago; NBC affiliate WFLA-TV Tampa, Fla.; NBC affiliate WPXI-TV Pittsburgh; UPN affiliate WRBU-TV St. Louis; and Fox affiliate WTNZ Knoxville, Tenn., to Missing's lineup.

People Mover

Dan Weiss
is joining Universal Domestic Television
in the newly created position of executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Universal's domestic and international divisions. He comes to Universal from Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, where he was senior vice president of marketing and creative services since 1995. …

NBC News
has nabbed boyish war correspondent Richard Engel, who had been freelancing for ABC News
during the war in Iraq. Engel, 29 and fluent in Arabic, among other languages, was the only TV reporter for an American news outlet who remained in Baghdad throughout the war. For now, Engel will be based in NBC's new Baghdad bureau, working for NBC and MSNBC.

Topic A to Z

After all the hype, a very small crowd tuned in to the debut of Tina Brown's CNBC
show April 30. Her Topic A With Tina Brown mustered a 0.1 rating, or 74,000 viewers, in its debut outing, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is half the cable net's April prime time average of a 0.2.
Hate to say this, but, outside of New York, only about 0.2% of people nationwide are familiar with Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker
and Talk
magazines. …

Jack Myers Report, in its latest analysis of the upcoming 2003-04 upfront marketplace, projects that NBC
will again amass the biggest dollar total, with $2.8 billion, up 3.7% from its year-ago $2.7 billion. CBS
will be second, JMR
says, with $2.1 billion, up 10.5%. Cable's upfront, which Myers projects at $5.35 billion, up 16%, would amount to nearly as much as the Big Three broadcast net totals combined ($6.35 billion). …

The top two weekly hours showed the largest percentage gains in syndication for the week ending April 20. Paramount's ET Weekend was the No. 1 weekly hour for the 70th time in the past 71 weeks and scored its highest ratings since the beginning of the war in Iraq, up 14% to a 3.3 rating. In second place, Warner Bros.' off-net ER was up 19% to a 2.5, though down 4% year-to-year. During the week, the average for households using television (HUTs) was down 8%. Bad weather on the East Coast kept people inside.


BitCentral's content management system will replace Pathfire's IP system at the NBC News Channel, a service that delivers content to NBC affiliated stations. A Cutting Edge item on page 25 of the April 7 edition incorrectly reported the BitCentral system would work in conjunction with Pathfire.

Too Close To Home

WPRI-TV Providence, R.I., won't show CSI: Miami, starring David Caruso (above), on May 5: The plot involves a deadly nightclub fire caused by pyrotechnics. On Feb. 20, a fire at the Station Nightclub, outside Providence, also started by pyrotechnics, killed 99 people. WPRI-TV reporter Jeffrey Derderian is co-owner of the club, and station photographer Brian Butler captured the disturbing footage. Instead that night, WPRI-TV will show excerpts from a benefit concert for fire victims.