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The latest news from the TV beat

Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, the Emmys, and ”Monday Night Football” made TV news March 24, 2000

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A Few ‘Good’ Men
Good Will Hunting: the TV series? Not exactly, but sources say Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have been shopping around a reality show that takes viewers behind the scenes of an indie movie. The Oscar-winning duo (and their Miramax-based production company) plan to recruit an indie auteur via the Internet who would then allow cameras to capture his vision coming to life. ”They were pretty passionate about the idea,” said one Big Four exec. ”I think they wanted to do it based on their experience [making] Good Will Hunting. They want to give somebody else that kind of shot.” Affleck and Damon had no trouble getting the nets to hear their pitch, but finding a buyer is a different story; one exec says Miramax is asking too steep a price for a 13-episode order (though Affleck and Damon did promise to appear in some episodes). But even if the show doesn’t get picked up, the actors have still created a stir: ”I rarely get flummoxed by people,” says one exec. ”And I definitely was flummoxed by them.”

Going to the Videotape
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has revamped its much-criticized Emmy voting system, which often resulted in maddeningly stale award winners (John Lithgow again?). Now, instead of a handful of TV insiders casting their votes, hundreds of Academy members will screen nominee tapes at home and help pick the winners. ”It’s a great idea,” says exec producer Steve Levitan (Stark Raving Mad). ”Anything that makes it easier for the busiest people in this business to vote is a good idea.” But one sitcom writer calls the proposal ”horrible,” predicting members will ignore the tapes and just vote for their favorite show. Says Academy chairman Meryl Marshall: ”We have a great deal of respect for our members and believe they take their responsibility quite seriously.” Guess we’ll find out next September.

NFL Redraft
Game-show reviver ABC is going retro once again: The net has tapped famed ’70s Monday Night Football producer (and former NBC West Coast prez) Don Ohlmeyer to overhaul the franchise, which averaged a measly 19.38 million viewers this season, its worst showing ever. Although Ohlmeyer earned his chops during MNF‘s Howard Cosell heyday, it’s now a far more competitive TV age, which prompts media buyer Paul Schulman to wonder: ”How much can he do?” Well, he can find a strong replacement for recently canned commentator Boomer Esiason. Still, Ohlmeyer knows he’s got a big task ahead of him. ”Whatever we do will evolve,” he says. ”We won’t go on the air and say ‘Ta da!’ We may be at the point that, despite everything, it’s just another game. Yet if I totally believed that, I wouldn’t be doing this.”