The latest news from the TV beat
The WB and UPN war and TV censors made news the week of July 25, 1997
MORE STRESS FOR JAY AND DAVE: Three years after Arsenio Hall woofed out of late night, a pair of one-hour talk shows with African-American hosts will debut on Aug. 4. Neither Keenen Ivory Wayans (from Disney) nor the Quincy Jones-produced Vibe (Columbia) will cop to being in competition with the other. But both talkers are eyeing the same young urban viewers that, they believe, the white-bread, middle-aged Jay and Dave no longer speak to. And both will occupy an 11 p.m. slot (across much of the country).
Vibe, which Jones produces with partner David Salzman and Letterman vet Daniel Kellison, is hosted by stand-up/actor Chris Spencer and will echo the flavor of Jones’ hip-hop mag. Columbia claims Vibe will ”possess the same attitude and unpredictability of today’s young adults.” Can’t prove that by us: An early peek indicates it’s traditional talk. Anyway, what it won’t be, says Salzman, is a ”ghetto show.” Keenen, which we haven’t seen, is also promising originality, this time with a wacky British feel.
Both ventures are costly risks; Wayans’ salary alone is an estimated $6 million a year, and Jones doesn’t come cheap. Wayans has one big advantage: His show will air mostly on Fox stations, generally stronger than Vibe‘s UPN or WB outlets. Then again, Fox also has a Magic Johnson chat show in the works. Sounds like a little too much of a good thing.
LEAP FROG: The never-ending war between The WB and UPN just got uglier. Last week, The WB lured away key UPN affiliates for $84 million, leaving the latter with no stations in five major markets (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City) as of January. The acquisitions could mean about $400 million more in ad revenue for The WB over 10 years and should finally silence rumors of the Frog net’s early demise. This is just the latest bad news for Sumner Redstone: His Viacom (50% owner of UPN) is already in an ownership battle with Seagram over the USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel.
KEEPING ABREAST OF THE CENSORS: The word ”tits” may make its network debut in ABC’s fall drama Cracker. The word — uttered twice in a father-son scene — has made it through the first round with ABC censors, who were said to be more worried over a woman rubbing gel on a man prior to his electrocution.