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August 19, 2008

ESPN going for gold; '90210' screener; 'CSI' serial killer

Was out of town Monday, so let's catch up on some headlines:

-- ESPN plans to bid for the Olympics. When executive vp John Skipper was asked about NBC's controversial "live" bug, he earned a gold medal in smack talk: We would never put an event on tape delay. When we put "live" on the screen, we mean "live right now." We don't mean "live three hours ago.' He said that if NBC was having technical trouble taking the "live" bug off its tape, ESPN would lend its technical expertise "to help them remove a (live) bug."

-- CW not sending screener copies of "90210" to critics -- "We're not hiding anything," insists the press release ... actually, the move is not unusual. What's unusual is issuing an announcement about the decision. To a degree, the release itself becomes part of the network's marketing effort -- free anticipation-building headlines about "90210" at time when the network is paying for billboards and magazine ads to hype the show; headlines which effectively replace the reviews. And, sure, the show might well be horrid, but either way it's probably a wise not to give ammo to critics about a remake. You can't win competing against the fuzzy and nostalgic memories of an original series that most seem to forget was pretty mediocre a great deal of the time. Plus, fans of "Gossip Girl" loved the pilot, but critics hammered it (a 54 score on Metacritic), so there's little reason for CW executives to think they'll any be kinder to "90210."

-- Ellen Gray reports that "CSI" producers are backing off the whole "serial killer DNA" thing. So what's with CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler making the announcement at July's TCA? "Nina gave real-time answer on what the producers were thinking," explains a CBS spokesperson. "It's development, things change."

Also: Food Network plans "Amazing Race"-style reality show ...  Celebrating the 1970s bronze age of television, a menacing statue of The Fonz is unveiled, complete with eye-gouging thumbs ... a list of near-miss TV casting decisions ("Jenna Fischer wasn't sexy enough to play Sydney Bristow on 'Alias,'" etc.) ... Barry Jossen replaces Julia Franz as top creative executive at ABC Studios and  Jennifer Bresnan to head reality at CBS.


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