What's in a name? Apparently plenty, over at WB.
Consider last season's much anticipated freshman sitcom "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane." It's coming back, but it's now called "Zoe." Which is kinda funny, because it was originally going to be called "Zoe Bean"--that is, until the WB marketing people got their hands on it and convinced the powers that be that it simply had to be called "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane." Maybe they thought the four names went better with the ad campaign they concocted, an "Abbey Road" album cover knockoff. Anyway, the sitcom did so-so and has been warming the mid-season bench since not making the cut for the fall lineup.
WB's new shows with multiple-word names are not doing well--"Safe Harbor," "Jack and Jill," "Mission Hill"--while those with single-word names are doing well--"Angel," "Roswell," "Popular." Also, another character has been added to "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane"--which would necessitate changing the name to "Zoe, Duncan, Jack, Jane & Doug" unless new cast member Omar Gooding ("Smart Guy") had a really bad agent. So is it any wonder "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane" is returning on Jan. 31 as just "Zoe"?
"Zoe" will be paired with a new sitcom called "Brutally Normal," which we know has no chance of surviving because of its certain-death multiple-word title. They're being sent off to WB's ratings sinkhole slot, Mondays at 9 p.m., which so far this season has swallowed up the can't-miss "7th Heaven" clone "Safe Harbor" and last season flushed "Hyperion Bay" so fast that not even Carmen Electra's broad shoulders could save it.
"Brutally Normal" tackles a subject about which television has so much more to say--the anxieties of high school.
ABC is shelling out more than $100 million to lock up "Drew Carey" through the spring of 2002, when it will have been on ABC for seven seasons. ABC's going to be paying about $2.2 million an episode for the privilege.
Carey and his on-air gang are already signed up through the seventh season.
Meanwhile, the show's executive producer, Bruce Helford--he of the family jewels joke--is getting a brand-new deal at "Drew Carey's" production house, Warner Bros. TV, which will keep him there until 2004. His agents didn't tell the trades that Helford's going to get a lot more than the four-year total of $5 million that he scored in his old deal--but they somehow got the information nonetheless.
Helford has been blessed in that his trademark joke is so good it can be stretched to cover two shows; he also created and executive-produces ABC's "Norm." Additionally, Helford's creating a new sitcom for WB that will star "Unhappily Ever After" thespian Nikki Cox, who's been keeping her acting skills honed with guest gigs on "Norm."
As forecast here, Fox is moving "Greed" to Friday night. Starting Jan. 7, the Chuck Woolery-hosted game show will air Fridays at 9--where Fox tested it last week and it did so well the network scored its very first win of the season among the hot 18-to-49 set. "Greed's" lead-in will be "World's Wildest Police Chases," same as during the test run.
They're replacing Chris Carter's "Harsh Realm" and Gen-X cop show "The Badlands," which both died young this fall.
For a special treat, Fox is going to give us three servings of "Greed" that week, including 9 p.m. runs on Jan. 5 and 6. After that, Fox is going with mostly movies on Thursday nights.
CBS's soap "The Young and the Restless" has logged its 560th consecutive week as the most watched daytime program. That's 11 years in first place in the daypart. Last week it set the record with an average audience of just over 7 million.
Also last week, NBC's "Today" show got started on a fifth year as No. 1 in the morning news race. The week before, it hit its 208th straight week--four years--as the most watched morning news program.
CNN has upped Gary Tuchman to national correspondent. The former New York bureau correspondent is relocating to CNN's Atlanta headquarters and will report to Keith McAllister, CNN's senior VP of domestic newsgathering and national managing editor, and to Eason Jordan, president of newsgathering and international network for CNN NewsGroup.
And last but not least, American Movie Classics has renewed "The Lot." The network picked up another 13 episodes of the weekly half-hour series, set in a faux Hollywood movie studio in the 1930s. Jonathan Frakes and Allen Garfield star in the series, in which fictional characters at the studio drop names of real actors from the period at an astounding rate. Executive producer of "The Lot," Marc Juris, is also senior VP of original programming for AMC, which is seen in about 71 million homes.