The latest news from the TV beat -- NBC and CBS get lazy while ABC announces its development slate

By Joe Flint
Updated January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Remember when a jobless George Costanza started wearing sweatpants during the day — a fashion choice Jerry said basically told the world he’d given up?

Well, CBS may have donned a pair of programming sweats. The Eye seemed to be raising the white flag against its competition last month when it aired infomercials on its TV stations instead of pre-prime-time syndicated fare like Entertainment Tonight. Such a ploy tells the viewer, ”We don’t care if you tune in, because we’ve made our money anyway.” Indeed, CBS did make a few bucks off the ads, but since viewers turned away in droves, the net’s prime-time ratings took a big hit, causing CBS execs to privately admit that it wasn’t the smartest move.

NBC may also have a pair of sweatpants in its future. Struggling to get young men to tune in, the net has had talks with Turner Broadcasting about teaming up on a prime-time wrestling special (an actual slam-fest, not to be confused with the net’s recent Exposed: Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Secrets special) that could feature Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

That should bring in those young male viewers, but does the Peacock really want to go the same lowbrow route as TNT and USA?

”I’m surprised NBC is considering this,” says Bill Croasdale, head media buyer for Western International Media, who points out that the wrestling audience isn’t exactly the most advertiser-friendly demo. ”Are they upper income? No,” says Croasdale. ”But it’s a race for the numbers and everything else be damned.”

ABC just announced an ambitious development slate: David Lynch is returning to TV with the ensemble drama Mulholland Drive; thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick are working on Once Again, about a reuniting divorced couple; Christine Taylor (The Wedding Singer) will star in The Guide, a sitcom about dating; and Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) and Julie Delpy star in the romantic comedy True Love. On the flip side: As first reported here last year, you can forget that vehicle starring Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper. Despite a 13-episode deal, ABC Entertainment prez Jamie Tarses says, ”We’re not moving forward on that.” Whether Home Improvement will return next year is also a question mark. It’s a ”delicate situation,” says ABC Entertainment chairman Stu Bloomberg. Translation: If Tim Allen & Co. want big bucks, the network will probably say, ”Forget it.”