Sam Donaldson will anchor an ABC New Year's Day special. Britain's ITV network has scored its first Christmas Day prime-time ratings battle over the BBC in 15 years. ITV snagged 46 percent of Britain's prime-time viewers that night, the trade paper Variety reports.
"And what," you're asking yourself right about now, "does this have to do with me?"
ITV aired three installments of its game show phenomenon "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" on Christmas night.
Guess what you're in for next Christmas.
And, speaking of "Millionaire," now that ABC has announced scheduling plans to bring back its hit game show as a thrice-weekly series, and the other networks have accordingly announced scheduling plans for their own game shows--all assiduously avoiding "Millionaire" time slots--those wacky guys over at ABC have changed their "Millionaire" alignment in hopes of picking off a few of the competitors.
After brilliant success as a summer and November sweeps stunt, airing on consecutive nights for about two weeks on each occasion, "Millionaire," ABC announced, would be back on Tuesday, Jan. 11, and would air each week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Once that was known, CBS announced that its quiz show "Winning Lines" would air on Saturdays, starting Jan. 8. And Fox announced that its game show "Greed" would get the heck out of Thursday and air Friday nights starting Jan. 7. NBC, meanwhile, decided to put its remake of scandalized game show "Twenty One" on Sundays starting Jan. 9 at 8 p.m.--one hour before "Millionaire"--and Wednesdays.
Now, ABC says the return of "Millionaire" will start Jan. 9 with an eight-day marathon, before assuming its Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday configuration.
Interestingly, ABC has shied away from putting "Millionaire" directly opposite "Twenty One" on any night. CBS's "Winning Lines" and Fox's "Greed" aren't so lucky.
The premiere of "Winning Lines" won't face Regis Philbin's ratings magnet; its second broadcast will. Ditto "Greed" in its second broadcast, on Friday, Jan. 14.
The Monday, Jan. 10, broadcast of "Millionaire" will precede ABC's broadcast of its Muhammad Ali TV movie. That caused Fox to flinch and pull its Ali movie, which was set for Jan. 15, off the lineup. No word on when it will air.
ABC also has decided to keep "Sports Night" around after all, and in its 9:30 p.m. Tuesday period. When ABC first announced its "Millionaire: The Series" plans, it said it would move "Spin City" from Tuesdays at 8 into the "Sports Night" berth. Now, ABC says it'll air "Spin City" at 9:30 on Wednesday nights instead, following "Drew Carey." The new sitcom-without-a-slot is "Norm." Stay tuned . . .
Twenty-five hours just wasn't enough, so ABC has decided to continue its live millennium coverage an additional three hours on Jan. 1.
You may recall that the network gave Sam Donaldson the job of reporting live from Washington for its millennium coverage, instead of sending him to Paris, like Barbara Walters, or Rome, like Cokie Roberts. Well, ABC is going to make it up to Sam by giving him the anchor gig for this three-hour live addendum, "Dawn of a New Era," airing 8 to 11 a.m. on Jan. 1. The special will "examine news events around the globe on the first day of the year 2000, reporting on issues such as transportation; telecommunications; infrastructure, including power and water; terrorism; and business and finance," ABC says.
ABC News "Nightline" correspondents Chris Bury, Dave Marash and Michel McQueen will report the broadcast from Washington. "Nightline" correspondent John Donvan will report from London. In addition, the broadcast will feature any of those ABC News correspondents from key locations around the globe who are left standing after their 25-hour ordeal.
Donaldson's special will be followed by coverage of the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena-- assuming that there still is a Pasadena, a parade and a Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The theme of this year's parade is "Celebration 2000: Visions of the Future."
The producers of CBS's contest show "Survivor" have picked 50 semifinalists from each of 16 "regions," including the Baltimore market.
Of the Baltimore region's 50, 17 are from Virginia, 14 from Maryland. Seven hail from Washington and--wait a minute--seven are from North Carolina, three are from South Carolina and two call Pennsylvania home.
The regions were based on where CBS actually owns the TV station that broadcasts its programming. And, CBS has promised it will try very hard to pick one contestant from each of its 16 regions. That's to give the TV stations it owns a "local person makes the cut" excuse for doing "news" stories about "Survivor," in which 16 people will try to survive 39 days on an uninhabited South Pacific island to win a million-dollar pot.
But if the Baltimore region ends up being repped by someone from South Carolina, that local angle becomes something of a stretch.
Of the Baltimore hopefuls, 30 are men, 20 women.
The producers of "Survivor" will be holding tryouts for the semifinalists in each region from Jan. 5 to 15; three people will be picked from each and will be flown to Los Angeles for extensive 10-day tryouts.
CAPTION: The Regis Philbin-hosted "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is returning as a thrice-weekly series.