Sweeps season hits TV
Networks break out the big events for May, including ''Wrestlemania,'' ''Thumb Wars,'' and more
Epic minis, wacky stunts, big audiences, and even bigger ad dollars. Did somebody say May sweeps? Here, some notable highlights. Take a good look; this is all that’s standing between you and four months of reruns:
Wrestlemania: The nets are going gaga for grapplers. In this corner, NBC has Hulk Hogan, who faces off against Brooke Shields for public office on Suddenly Susan; Randy ”Macho Man” Savage hits the ring with Helen Hunt on Mad About You; and ex-wrestler Nils Allen Stewart plays the pugilist-turned-politician in The Jesse Ventura Story. The challenger, CBS, has ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin reprising his ratings-grabbing Nash Bridges role as a cop hot for Yasmine Bleeth. Promises producer Carlton Cuse, ”Nash [Don Johnson] and Steve kick some major ass.”
Special specials: There’s Thumb Wars, the bizarro parody of Star Wars, starring a cast of, uh, thumbs (UPN); Busted Everywhere! (Fox), in which unwitting folks are caught on tape doing cringe-worthy things; and Britney Spears and Ricky Martin at The 1999 World Music Awards, though the real reason to watch is less-endowed cohost Pamela Anderson Lee (ABC). ”She’d committed before that,” sniffs producer John Hamlin. ”But do I think the attention will hurt us in the ratings? Probably not.”
Buh-bye: Jonathan Taylor Thomas won’t be back for Home Improvement‘s final bow, but take heart, girls: He will pop up in clips highlighting the series’ eight-year run (ABC). Fran and Maxwell have twins (oy!) in The Nanny‘s sign-off (CBS), and, after seven seasons, Melrose Place goes out with a bang that’s said to include the reappearance of Uberpsycho Kimberly, played by Marcia Cross (Fox).
Clued-in: Even ratings cellar dwellar Clueless (UPN) is not immune to sweeps stunts. On May 11, the kids go to the prom with stars from the netlet’s top-rated show, Moesha, and — gasp! — Leonardo DiCaprio. The hitch? Brandy isn’t one of the guests and Leo, well, he’s not Leo. He’s look-alike actor James Tyler, whom Amber (Elisa Donovan) claims is the Titanic star. Hey, whatever makes a sunk boat float.