You knew it had to happen: In late January, The WB’s family-values drama 7th Heaven will weigh in on the Sept. 11 attacks by airing an episode about religious intolerance. Inspired by an actual case in Arizona in which a Sikh was killed after being mistaken for a Muslim, 7th Heaven will tell the story of a Muslim girl who’s victimized by her schoolmates. Creator Brenda Hampton cast 10-year-old Muslim and first-time actress Ashley Solomon in the role. ”The show is about prejudice, and I wanted to find a Muslim actor for the part,” says Hampton, who insists Heaven is not out to preach. ”Our policy is to try to be harmless rather than helpful, which is harder to do. Part of the story is how Mary (Jessica Biel) and Lucy (Beverley Mitchell) get a petition together to support their Muslim neighbors and stop the harassment. They make a lot of people aware of Muslim neighbors they never knew they had.”
Live, from Los Angeles, it’s the Primetime Emmy Awards! TV Academy chairman Bryce Zabel thinks the Emmys could someday ditch the taped format and go live, especially after Fox’s unprecedented decision to reveal the winners during Game 7 of the World Series—thus spoiling the tape-delayed broadcast for the West Coast. ”Everyone knows it hurt the overall broadcast,” says Zabel, who expects the topic to arise next summer when the TV Academy decides the Emmys’ network rotation through 2006 (it’s already set to air on NBC next September with tape delays). Adds Zabel, ”To go after someone’s entertainment programming by spoiling the surprise is ungentlemanly.” But is going live (and therefore airing at 5 p.m. on the West Coast, like the Oscars do) the ultimate solution? One network suit thinks a live broadcast would take a ratings hit because viewers wouldn’t deem the Emmys important enough to rush home for: ”Nobody in TV wants to admit it, but the Emmys are not like the Oscars. And if it happened before daylight savings, that would be the show’s death.” Stay tuned.
If NBC’s Ed (Tom Cavanagh) doesn’t appear to be whistling a happy tune these days, here’s a possible reason why: His theme song has changed. Last season, Ed creators Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman chose the upbeat Foo Fighters song ”Next Year” to introduce audiences to the you-can-go-home-again drama, despite warnings from production company Viacom that they couldn’t keep the song. ”They must own [the rights to] the theme song, and [Viacom] made it clear to us that we’d someday have to change it,” says Burnett. That day came Oct. 10, when season 2 of Ed launched to the strains of a far more somber tune: ”Moment in the Sun” by Clem Snide. ”It was a difficult task to replace something so beloved,” admits Burnett. ”We wanted to stay away from a knockoff of Foo Fighters, but perhaps we went too far in another direction. But it’s growing on people.”