The latest news from the TV beat
A Real Hot Summer
Cancel all summer vacation plans: The networks have plenty of reality shows to air, now that they’re no longer stockpiling them for fall in case of a writers’ strike. NBC — which came last to the reality party last summer when it only offered original installments of Dateline — now has the lion’s share of the genre, from a daredevil challenge show, Fear Factor (June 11), to a BBC-created psychological contest called Dog Eat Dog. There are even more originals of Weakest Link and a reality sketch show called The Downer Channel from Steve Martin (July). ”Reality shows are now a part of our lives as much as sitcoms and dramas,” admits NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker. ”We have to develop them in the same way.” Meanwhile, CBS has a new season of Big Brother (July); ABC’s bringing back Making the Band (June 8), continuing with its never-ending stream of Regis Philbin, and adding variety series The Wayne Brady Show (August); and Fox has Love Cruise ready to set sail. As for the netlets, The WB will air feature movies — I Know What You Did Last Summer (June 5), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (June 12), and Pretty in Pink (June 19) — for the first time in its history, while UPN’s got Manhunt, a reality adventure show produced by the World Wrestling Federation (June). The object: Find those last few males who haven’t been watching Smackdown!
Talk about letting bygones be bygones. The CBS fall sitcom American Wreck, about a recently separated dad who runs a community center, will star Home Alone abusee Daniel Stern — the same guy who two years ago reportedly sabotaged his fledgling comedy ”Partners” for the Eye (someone sent CBS president Leslie Moonves a mysterious memo dissuading him from ordering the sitcom only hours before the net was due to unveil its fall lineup). As it turned out, Moonves decided not to order ”Partners,” so the production company sued Stern for trashing the show (the actor countersued, and the matter was ultimately settled out of court). Yet Moonves never believed that Stern had anything to do with that fateful memo. ”Leslie’s relationship with Danny is great,” says a CBS spokesman.
So what kind of stories will Jennifer Lopez be spinning now that she’s got an NBC sitcom development deal? ”I remember very vividly the ages when you’re coming out of eighth grade and going into high school. You know, when you’re kind of awkward and then you find your coolness,” says Lopez. ”There are so many stories from my life that will make great half-hour sitcom episodes.” Yeah, and how about that time you went to a party, shots rang out, and people were arrested? Now, that’s a knee-slapper!
AND SO ON… For those of you who are Latin-challenged, here’s a translation of Josiah Bartlet’s National Cathedral rant in The West Wing’s finale: ”Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments. I was your servant here on earth. And I spread your word and I did your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you.” Actually, that sounds like something Michael Richards should have said.