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The latest news from the TV beat

”God, the Devil and Bob,” Tom Green, and ”If These Walls Could Talk 2” made news the week of March 31, 2000

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Is ‘God’ Dead?
NBC’s having a devil of a time keeping its affiliates from banishing the new animated sitcom God, the Devil and Bob. Sixteen stations in markets like Salt Lake City and Pocatello, Idaho, yanked the modern-day Job tale (which airs at 7:30 p.m. in mountain and central time zones) because, among other things, it mockingly depicts God as a beer-guzzlin’ hippie. ”The big fear is that it’s aimed at children, and we just felt some things were not appropriate for the time period,” says KSL-TV programming manager Russ Crabb of Salt Lake City. God exec producer Harvey Myman disagrees: ”We’ve received so much mail from ministers and priests saying this is exactly what you should be watching with the family.” But NBC may not be willing to give the series time to find an audience (only 6.3 million viewers tuned in to the March 14 telecast). The most ironic result of the boycott thus far: A South Bend, Ind., affiliate replaced a potentially offensive God episode with the masturbation episode of Seinfeld. Score it Jerry 1, the Almighty 0.

In Stitches
Given his penchant for on-camera pranks, who could blame you for suspecting that Tom Green’s revelation (on Entertainment Tonight, no less) that he has testicular cancer was just his latest over-the-top stunt. But the host of MTV’s self-titled series is indeed battling the disease. Fear not, though: His prognosis is good after initial treatment, and he’s expected to be back suckling cow udders in no time. Green, 28, has also been documenting his whole medical experience for an upcoming episode, and at press time, he was even hoping to show up at the Oscars. ”He was very upbeat, very lighthearted,” says Green spokesperson Marleah Leslie. The WB certainly wishes him a speedy recovery — it’s been negotiating to adopt his show from MTV. Perhaps they should woo him by making a donation to his start-up charity, Tom Green’s Nuts Cancer Fund. We’re not making that one up, folks.

Strange Bedfellows
Who do HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk 2 and the Discovery Channel’s Raising the Mammoth have to thank for their ratings success? The broadcast networks’ affiliates. That’s right: In a trend that some believe is steering more and more viewers to cable, network affiliates around the country are routinely allowing cable companies to buy advertising on their stations (for a substantial price, of course). Although the spots for Walls and Mammoth didn’t contain a premiere date, they clearly didn’t have to: On March 5, Walls gave HBO its highest original-movie rating in three years, and on March 12 Mammoth attracted a record 10.1 million viewers. ”I think the networks understand that we’re in business as they are in business,” says Alan Bell of Freedom Broadcasting station group, which includes ABC and CBS affiliates. ”We’ll make economic decisions that we think are in our best interest, independent of what anybody says.” C’mon, kids, play nice.