CBS is giving Steven Bochco's new doc drama, "City of Angels," its Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot starting Jan. 19--a move sure to raise eyebrows among those who'd like to see the return of the Family Hour to broadcast TV.
"Notwithstanding that 'City of Angels' will air at 8 p.m., we have [CBS Television President and CEO] Les [Moonves'] assurance that we will not have to modify our content," said Bochco, who added that he was "thrilled" the network was able to find a slot on its prime-time lineup.
It's true, CBS was having a hard time finding a 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. slot for its new "urban" drama. (That's Hollywood-speak for minority cast. When was the last time you heard "Friends" referred to as an "urban" sitcom?) With the broadcast networks under fire for their lack of minorities in lead roles on new shows, "City of Angels" is one of the more anticipated midseason programs.
One reason for CBS's time slot dearth is the success of its new Monday and Tuesday 10 p.m. drama series, "Family Law" and "Judging Amy," as well as Friday 9 p.m.'s "Now and Again." CBS apparently decided not to risk moving any of those new shows.
At 8 p.m. Wednesday, "City of Angels" has an open field, with no dominant program to overcome. ABC is airing "Two Guys and a Girl" and "it's like, you know . . ."; Fox has aging "Beverly Hills, 90210"; WB runs slipping "Dawson's Creek" in the slot; NBC will air the final edition of its new game show, "Twenty-One," on Jan. 19 and may or may not switch back to "Dateline"; and UPN has "Seven Days." CBS has been running underachieving "Cosby" and, since the demise of "Work With Me," a little of this and a little of that in the 8:30 half-hour.
The ratings successes of CBS's "JAG" and NBC's "Providence" prove that a drama series can work at 8, Moonves said.
"Yes, this show is gritty, but it isn't overtly sexual or overtly violent," he continued. "It's a good, solid Bochco drama, and there's a time slot waiting for [viewers]."
Another reason for the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot: low ratings expectations. "Because of the significance of this show, we wanted to put it in a time period where expectations aren't huge, so you can leave it and nurture it," Moonves says. "You put it in a key time period earlier in the week, it's got to perform immediately or else you're in trouble."
The first episode of "City of Angels" will air Sunday, Jan. 16, in "Touched by an Angel's" 9 p.m. hour before the show moves to its regular slot. That's a launch schedule that worked well this fall for "Judging Amy"--the highest-rated new drama series on any network.
Expect to see lots of ads for the new show in CBS's Jan. 15-16 AFC playoff games, followed by tons of ads in "Family Law," "Judging Amy" and Tuesday's 8 p.m. drama "JAG" preceding its regular time-slot debut that Wednesday.
CBS has ordered 13 episodes of the Bochco drama about a struggling hospital in Los Angeles County. Blair Underwood ("L.A. Law"), Vivica A. Fox ("Independence Day"), Michael Warren ("Hill Street Blues") and Robert Morse ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying") star.
Rapper Jay-Z won't be edited out of Fox's upcoming Mariah-Carey-goes- home-to-forgive-the-little-people special, the network says. The pre-taped concert special features the Clothing-Challenged One returning to her very own junior high school in Greenlawn, N.Y., to "perform an intimate concert for the students." And it was, according to Fox hype, the result of an "inspiration" that came to Carey "as a result of her reaction to the Columbine High School incident and the many recent tragedies of the past year with troubled teens."
Among the show's guest stars is Shawn Carter--stage name Jay-Z--who recently inspired students by being charged in New York for allegedly stabbing record executive Lance Rivera during a party at Manhattan's Kit Kat Club. He's been released on $50,000 bail.
A Fox rep said the network had no plans to edit out Jay-Z in the special, which also features children from Carey's Camp Mariah for inner-city kids.
The next millennium is going to be way better than this one.
For starters, the producers of the 2000 Academy Awards broadcast on ABC in March have banned the dance numbers. Apparently the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided it had been embarrassed enough for another thousand years by last year's Debbie Allen-choreographed dance "interpretations" of songs from Oscar-nominated scores, which included tap dancing to the theme song from the three-hankie World War II drama "Saving Private Ryan."
It's all part of a "new spin" for the new millennium promised by this year's trophy show producers, Richard and Lili Zanuck. Actually, this is their first gig doing the Oscars; they're much better known for their flicks "Driving Miss Daisy," "Cocoon" and the upcoming "Into Thin Air," among many others.
So big was this news that the academy held a press conference late last week to announce the change, which was covered in detail by trade publication Variety. Asked about the dance numbers, the Zanucks rolled their eyes, grimaced and said they were out--which brought on a spontaneous round of applause from The Reporters Who Cover Film.
And the Zanucks are going to return to you an hour of your life, because they've promised that this year, the broadcast really will come in on time. The Oscar-cast hasn't kept to its alleged three-hour running time since 1968. Unfortunately, the Zanucks say that to do so they will subtly trim frames from the clips for Best Picture, etc., when what they should be doing is applying a cattle prod to any winner who begins to foam at the mouth about his agent, manager, publicist, plastic surgeon, personal trainer--all those people we've never heard of and don't care about.
They acknowledged they want Billy Crystal back to host; he's "born to do this job," they said.
Another TV icon bites the dust.
After nearly 20 years, the Tic Tac lady, Kelly Harmon, is being dumped. The 51-year-old Harmon's contract with Italian confectioners Ferrero is about to expire and will not be renewed, the Wall Street Journal reports.
She's being replaced by a 28-year-old who looks just like her--only younger, of course.
Harmon might have survived had Tic Tac's parent company not decided that targeting consumers up to age 49 was just too darned old and that it had to focus all its attention on people under 35. They've been frightened by the huge sales surge in the No. 2-selling breath mint, Altoids, which is a Philip Morris product.
CAPTION: Mariah Carey, going back to school to share a few lessons.