Three days after ABC's top suit dismissed as "simply untrue" a press report that the network was likely to seek the resignation of Entertainment Division President Jamie Tarses, Tarses has turned in her resignation.
What a coincidence.
Tarses said in a statement yesterday that she feels that "the time is right to move on."
And how. The network finished the 1998-99 TV season in third place, as it has since Tarses joined in 1996 after developing the hits "Friends" and "Frasier" as an executive for NBC.
Last month Disney said it would merge Buena Vista Television Production with ABC to form a new unit co-chaired by Jamie's boss Stu Bloomberg and Buena Vista Television chief Lloyd Braun.
The move--intended to cut costs and put more Disney-produced shows on the network--also effectively gave Tarses two bosses: Bloomberg and Braun.
Since then, there have been reports from inside the company that the three of them did not click. That became the subject of several conversations in New York between ABC Group Chairman Robert Iger and ABC Network President Pat Fili-Krushel, according to a well-placed source. So Iger flew out to Los Angeles this week to discuss the problem with the three executives. At the same time, Newsweek put a press report on its Web site that the network was likely to seek Tarses' resignation. Iger issued a statement saying that report was "simply untrue."
But by yesterday, Tarses said, it had become clear to her that the troika was unworkable, and she resigned.
"It was my idea," Tarses said in a phone interview. "I recognized the importance of the changes but it required more adjusting, creating another round of intense scrutiny . . . and I was not up for another round of that, because all of that distracts from what I want to do, which is the job. . . . To have to get all wrapped up in that again didn't seem worth it for me."
So, ABC insists, its original "It is simply untrue" statement was accurate. "When we were asked Monday about reports that Jamie's resignation was being sought, they were not true. Three days later she decided to leave the company. Our statements have been very clear and consistent--the situation has changed."
In the end, blaming the "Jenny Jones Show" for Scott Amedure's murder didn't work--but not blaming the show didn't work, either.
Yesterday morning, a jury found Jonathan Schmitz guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his gay admirer three days after they both appeared at a 1995 taping of the syndicated television program. Schmitz faces up to life in prison; sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14, the Associated Press reports.
It's the second time that Schmitz, 24, has been convicted on the charge. In the first trial, in the fall of 1996, Schmitz's attorneys tried to pin blame on the talk show and its ambush tactics; host Jones was among those called to testify. Nonetheless the jury found Schmitz guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Amedure. That verdict was overturned on appeal because of an error in jury selection.
This time around, Schmitz's new attorney, Jerome Sabbota, did not try to blame the show; he tried to convince the jury that Amedure had stalked his client, driving him to violence. Sabbota had sought a lesser verdict of manslaughter, saying in Wednesday's closing arguments that Amedure had continued to pursue Schmitz after the show to the point that Schmitz "lost all reason." A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Sabbota told jurors that Amedure had lied to Schmitz, who is not gay, about the nature of the show, which was titled "Same-Sex Secret Crushes." Before going to the taping, Schmitz told friends he hoped his admirer would turn out to be his former girlfriend.
The night before Schmitz killed Amedure with two blasts from a shotgun, Amedure had left a suggestive note and a blinking construction light at Schmitz's door, the AP reported.
Amedure "never let up and he never backed off. He created a situation when any reasonable person would have snapped," Sabbota said.
Schmitz, who has already served three years in prison for Amedure's death, was originally sentenced to a 25-to-50-year term for second-degree murder.
CBS is betting that its Monday sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" will clean up at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12 and has scheduled four back-to-back rerun episodes of "Raymond" for the following night, a Monday, from 8 to 10.
All are flashback episodes, including the two-part wedding story that aired during the May sweeps. "It's sort of a 'most frequently asked questions about "Raymond" ' night," said CBS scheduling head Kelly Kahl, who credited the sitcom's exec producer Phil Rosenthal with the idea. "If we can ride any kind of Emmy coattails, that would be nice too," Kahl added.
Kahl said CBS aired four consecutive episodes in June 1998, in a bid to get the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to notice the critically acclaimed comedy series and give it some Emmy nominations. It didn't. The academy did notice this season, however, and showered the three-year-old series with six Primetime Emmy noms, including its first ever for best sitcom, and four cast members first noms for their work on the show.
ABC has yanked "Sports Night" for six weeks.
Reruns of the sitcom have been pulled from the network's Tuesday 9:30 p.m. time slot; it won't be seen again until its scheduled season debut on Oct. 5. In its last broadcast, on Aug. 18, it averaged a scant 5.6 million viewers and got whupped by NBC's "Will & Grace" rerun, which bagged 10.7 million viewers.
The network says it'll fill the berth with reruns of a higher-rated sitcom--probably "Dharma & Greg," "Spin City" or "Drew Carey."
Fox has shut down production on its new drama series "Manchester Prep." A high-level suit at Sony, where the one-hour school-from-Hell series is produced, told trade paper Variety that the break was scheduled to give writers "a chance to refocus on the stories rather than the characters." Get the drift? Show in trouble here. "Manchester Prep" won't have its debut until December, anyway; Fox says that's to stagger its fall series debuts and avoid the September rush.
Tara Lipinski is hitting the ice for a television movie.
The Olympic gold medalist will appear in the comedy "Ice Angel," the story of a star hockey player who is accidentally killed and comes back in the body of a 17-year-old female figure skater.
Lipinski plays one of the skater's former competitors. "Ice Angel" is scheduled to air on cable's Fox Family Channel in January.
Nancy Lane has been named senior producer of CNN's new "The World Today," the cable network's flagship newscast, which is set to debut Monday, Sept. 13.
Lane will work closely with co-anchor Wolf Blitzer overseeing all aspects of the program's production and content from Washington. Two counterparts will be named, in Los Angeles and in Atlanta, where the newscast's other two anchors--Jim Moret and Joie Chen, respectively--will be based.
Steve Redisch, the program's executive producer, will manage the newscast's overall direction and content from CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
Lane started with CNN 18 years ago as an assignment editor. During her long tenure at the network, she has also served as a field producer on several presidential campaigns, and executive producer of the New York bureau. In Washington she was executive producer and, most recently, deputy bureau chief.