TBS's new comedy series "The Chimp Channel," which debuted last night, features fully clothed chimpanzees.
One of the series's human creators, however, wasn't.
So he got sacked, and now he's suing for breach of contract.
"The Chimp Channel" is about a bunch of primates that run a TV network with chimp-cast shows, including "Touched by an Anvil" and "Cosmetic ER."
Tom Stern, co-creator and writer, was fired from the show after he stripped and broke bottles of alcohol on the set, according to the trade paper Variety.
So this week he filed suit in Los Angeles against TBS, Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, Telescopic Pictures, Telescopic principal Tony Shiff and Palomar Pictures, alleging breach of contract, illegal dismissal and refusal to pay money owed to him.
Stern told Variety that he had been unhappy about the direction the show was taking and was just using "improv comedy" to "get stuff off my chest."
"I was willing to stand naked to show I had no shame or fear about making good comedy," he told the trade paper.
Stern, who also co-wrote the screenplay for "An American Werewolf in Paris," said that he had been given prior permission to "perform."
Meanwhile, Stern's attorney, David Hall, told Variety he's sure he "can establish a fact pattern" that would lead a jury to bring a multi-million-dollar verdict in his client's favor.
Called for comment, a spokeswoman at Time Warner, parent of TBS and Warner Bros. Domestic Pay TV, told The TV Column: "We never comment on litigation, especially litigation that is this ludicrous."
Ted Turner wants women--lots and lots of women.
The media mogul's Turner Broadcasting System has officially entered the race to launch a cable TV network and Web site targeting women. Partners in the venture are Time Inc.--no surprise there, since it, too, is owned by Time Warner--and Advance Publications Inc., parent of Conde Nast. Time Inc.'s female-interest publications include In Style, Southern Living, Parenting and Weight Watchers. Conde Nast publishes Vogue, Mademoiselle, Self and House & Garden.
The as yet unnamed network is scheduled to launch early next year, Turner reports.
What a coincidence; that's when cable vet Geraldine Laybourne says she's going to launch her cable network for women, Oxygen. As we write, she's negotiating to get Oxygen delivered on as many cable lineups as possible. Recent news reports say billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has been negotiating to invest $100 million in Oxygen Media, Oxygen's parent company, for about 7 percent of the venture, giving Oxygen access to the potential 5.5 million subscriber homes of Allen's cable company, Charter Communications. TCI had agreed to carry the channel to the majority of its 11 million subscribers, contingent on Oxygen's securing 5 million more subscriptions from other cable operators.
Laybourne's partners include America Online, Oprah Winfrey and production house Carsey-Werner, which has produced such TV series as "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," "3rd Rock From the Sun" and "That '70s Show." Oxygen's also reportedly in talks with Candice Bergen about hosting a nightly talk show for the network.
Pat Mitchell, president of CNN Productions and Time Inc. Television, has spearheaded Turner's new "chick" channel and will continue to helm it.
"Women represent the fastest-growing Internet population and a television audience that remains under-served," she said in a news release issued yesterday.
What an understatement. Women are the majority "minority" in this country, and the same goes for TV; women watch substantially more TV than either men or children, yet many channels aim squarely at guy fans--think ESPN, Fox Sports Network, CNNSI, Speedvision, Outdoor Life, etc.--or the kiddies--Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, Discovery Kids. There's only one "women's" channel, the Disney- and Hearst-owned Lifetime Television. Anticipating its first real competition, Lifetime recently named former Disney marketing whiz Carol Black as its chief.
Turner's announcement offered zip in the way of details about the new channel, other than to say that it "will offer branded programming reflecting the landscape of women's lives today."
CBS will add a third night of "48 Hours," to be called "48 Hours: Tuesday Adventures," starting at 10 July 6.
A second "48 Hours" summer run, called "Monday Mysteries," debuted this week at 10 p.m. and scored a whopping 14.04 million viewers, which is more people than had tuned in to any of NBC's hit Thursday series four days earlier.
The new Tuesday program might report on amazing feats of endurance or dangerous wild animal adventures, for instance. Footage from reports previously broadcast by CBS News will be updated if used for the summer series.
Attention potential presidential hopeful Gov. George W. Bush: A&E's profile of you on its "Biography" series was watched in 1.86 million homes Wednesday night, beating rival Sen. John McCain's bio, which ran in February and averaged 1.61 million homes. But neither of you can hold a candle to wrestler Andre the Giant, whose A&E bio landed 3.4 million households in January.
CAPTION: Behind the scenes on "The Chimp Channel," a behind.