Dick Wolf has carried the day: NBC will move his "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" out of its 9 p.m. time slot and into "Homicide: Life on the Street's" old Friday 10 p.m. hour.
It's part of a schedule overhaul the network will trigger in January that involves whacking two sitcom slots off its prime-time week. That's a big step toward drama for NBC, which used to be called the "Sitcom and 'Dateline' Network" out in Hollywood.
Back in July, Wolf spread the word to about 200 reporters at the summer TV press tour that he was not happy NBC had given "SVU" a 9 p.m. berth. The show, which is similar to "Law & Order" but focuses on sex crimes, is too adult for the time slot, he complained, urging reporters to tell viewers to write to NBC CEO Bob Wright and complain.
Starting Jan. 7, Wolf gets his way; the show is being moved to 10 p.m. following the failure of "Cold Feet" in that hour. NBC no doubt hopes this will snag some of the very loyal fans who used to watch "Homicide"; it helps that Wolf revived Richard Belzer's "Homicide" character for "SVU." And, expect NBC to promote the heck out of "SVU" to watchers of "Law & Order" on Wednesday at 10 p.m. There are a couple million more of them than there were last year; "Law" is enjoying a very good season thanks to its compatible lead-in, "The West Wing."
And, get this: After deciding that "Dateline" simply had to stick at 10 p.m. on Monday, which was the reason "SVU" was airing that night at 9 (8 Central time), NBC has now decided that it can move "Dateline" to 9 p.m. Mondays after all, and will do so on Jan. 10. That frees up the 10 p.m. slot for John Wells's new paramedics show, "Third Watch," which has been struggling on Sundays at 8 p.m.
Funny how that works.
"Suddenly Susan" and "Veronica's Closet" will be yanked out of the Monday 8-9 p.m. time slot to make way for Saturday's struggling "Freaks and Geeks," also beginning Jan. 10. "Suddenly Susan" is finally gone, and starting Jan. 4, "Veronica's Closet" is being moved to Tuesday at 9:30, where it only has to outpace "The Mike O'Malley Show"--which got yanked after tanking there twice.
With "F&G" moved, it's back to an all-paranormal lineup for NBC's Saturday night. "Pretender" is sliding into the 8 p.m. time slot, starting Dec. 4. "Profiler" is moving to 9 that same night, and, on Feb. 5, NBC debuts "The Others" at 10. It's about a group of folks who share an extrasensory ability "to reach beyond this world and into other dimensions," NBC says. Between Dec. 4 and Feb. 5, expect "World's Most Amazing Videos" in the 10 p.m. slot.
As of press time, NBC had not decided what it will use to fill the hole left by "Third Watch" on Sunday. "Dateline" is going to move to 8, leaving the TBA show at 7.
"The goal of these changes is to protect and nurture the shows we believe in and to create a flow we hope appeals to our audience," NBC entertainment division chief Garth Ancier said yesterday.
Five years after he was nixed as head of Fox's entertainment division after disagreeing with Rupert Murdoch about the direction of the network, Sandy Grushow has been appointed chairman of Fox Television Entertainment Group. Now, he'll oversee not only the network's entertainment division but parent 20th Century Fox's TV production company as well.
Grushow's career path has been one of the more ironic in the Hollywood TV circle. He first gained a reputation at 20th Century Fox studio as a movie marketing whiz; he then moved over to the network's marketing and advertising department, put the network brand on the map and for his efforts was named entertainment division president in 1992. He's credited with hits "Melrose Place," "The X-Files" and "Party of Five," among other programs.
But Grushow was one of the two-years-and-out guys who have populated the entertainment division chief job at Fox for most of the '90s. His falling out came right around the time Murdoch decided that Fox, which had a smaller, but very desirable younger audience, needed to become more like the established broadcast networks with their bigger--and older--audiences. Grushow wanted to keep the focus on young viewers. Murdoch bid him adieu and named the guy who oversaw CBS's movie production operation--and you can't get much older-skewing than that--to replace Grushow. One of replacement John Matoian's first announcements was a movie deal for Fox with Hallmark--and you can't get more un-Fox than that.
Matoian lasted two seasons, followed by Peter Roth, who lasted two seasons, followed by current position holder Doug Herzog, who's in his first season.
While that revolving door was spinning, Murdoch and his second in command, Fox studio president Peter Chernin, decided they'd made a mistake about Grushow and decided to get him back. The boys of Fox courted Grushow, who was just coming off a gig as president of Tele-TV, an ill-fated effort by Bell Atlantic, Nynex Corp. and Pacific Telesis Group to get into the home entertainment business. At one point the Fox guys offered Grushow his old job. Instead, he became president of the studio's 20th Century Fox TV production house in 1997 and has boosted the operation's number of prime-time series orders from five to this fall's 22.
And now, at age 39, he's going to oversee all of his old Fox TV jobs.
There's been speculation that Herzog will shoot through the revolving door now that Grushow's been named ueber TV guy at the studio; Herzog was, after all, hired by Chernin and reported directly to him.
Grushow insists Herzog's staying. "Doug has my confidence; he is president of the network's entertainment division; it's his area to run."
That said, Grushow said his goal for the struggling network is "to try to restore a clear sense of identity and purpose."
To that end, the network will not favor 20th Century Fox-produced programming, even though there's one guy overseeing both, Grushow said. "It would be patently absurd for us to discriminate against any supplier at this point in the interest of favoring the studio. We need new hits and will take them any way we can get them."
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it has found evidence that CBS Inc. has discriminated against female technicians at its television stations, the Associated Press reported.
The women were "subjected to disparate treatment in salary, amount of overtime, promotion opportunities and training," wrote Spencer H. Lewis Jr., director of the EEOC's New York district office, in an Oct. 29 ruling.
The EEOC ruling responded to a complaint filed in 1993 by a former CBS camerawoman in New York, Linda Karpell, who claims she was sexually harassed, passed over for the best assignments and fired after she protested.
It was made public yesterday by attorneys representing Karpell and 165 other current and former female technicians at CBS stations in cities including Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The group has since filed a private sex discrimination lawsuit against the network.
Network spokesman Dana McClintock said, "As a company, CBS is, and has been, committed to creating a workplace that fosters fair employment practices. We welcome the EEOC's invitation to discuss this matter and look forward to resolving it as soon as possible."