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Killer Lineups

When it comes time to promote its new crop of stars, maybe NBC should forgo its Must See TV slogan and go with Must Have Seen Them on TV instead. Several actors on NBC’s 2002-03 lineup — Paula Marshall, Jason Bateman, and Jason Gedrick, among them — have appeared in so many failed series that some industry insiders have dubbed them ”show killers.” Marshall (Cupid, Snoops, The Weber Show) plays a suburban mom in the new comedy Hidden Hills, Bateman (George & Leo, Some of My Best Friends) is an ex-lawyer in the midseason comedy It’s Not About Me, and Gedrick (Murder One, EZ Streets, Falcone) is a cop in the Sunday-night drama Boomtown. ”When I met with the writers [of Hidden Hills], I had to bring up the fact that my shows have never lasted more than a half a season,” says Marshall. ”I told them: ‘By the way, I’m completely wrong for this part. I wouldn’t buy me as a mother of three.”’ But NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker isn’t worried about filling his schedule with potentially cursed actors. ”It’s not that these people are show killers. It’s that the shows don’t work,” he says. ”You have actors who have been around and actors who are brand-new. The audience doesn’t care. They just want a good show.” Ah yes, good shows. We remember those.

The Crying Games

They were the weakest links, goodbye! Disappointing ratings for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Weakest Link prompted ABC and NBC to leave the game shows off their fall schedules. That decision was especially tough for Zucker, who publicly promised earlier this year that Anne Robinson and Co. would be back this September. ‘Course, that was before Link dropped 26 percent in viewers this season while Millionaire decreased by 43 percent. (A syndicated version of Link is already airing in daytime, while a Meredith Vieira-hosted edition of Millionaire will debut in syndication this fall.) Admits Zucker, ”I think we’re in a lull where game shows have run their course.” Not that networks have completely given up on the genre: Zucker promises more originals of Link on NBC’s prime-time lineup this summer, while ABC will stunt Millionaire throughout the season.

AND SO ON…While viewers are far from declaring ”I think I love you” to Danny Bonaduce and his cohorts on The Other Half, it looks as if the struggling yakker will make a comeback this fall. Despite averaging a meager 1.2 household rating across the country — bettering only the struggling Ananda Lewis Show — NBC stations in L.A. and New York City are seeing a minor ratings rise with such titillating Other Half topics as guys who say ”I love you” to score sex and why women wear thongs. (It also doesn’t hurt that Half is owned and distributed by NBC Enterprises.) ”Ninety percent of our subject matter is about what guys think about the world of women. It’s meant to be fun,” says exec producer Alan Winters. ”We’re not issue- or news-oriented.” Bonaduce, meanwhile, doesn’t mind tackling those not-so-newsworthy topics: ”There was that mother-daughter prostitute [show] that I really enjoyed doing.” Somewhere, Sally Jessy is weeping.

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