Plus, answers to the cliffhangers from the canceled ''Popular'' and ''Moesha,'' and more

By Lynette Rice
June 11, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
O-Town: Frank Ockenfels

GROUP THERAPY ”Making the Band”’s O-Town may have cracked the pop charts, but they got whacked by Nielsen: The ABC show averaged a meager 4.7 million viewers after only two outings in April (which is why the net promptly yanked it). That’s a far cry from the nearly 7 million who tuned in during season 1. Yet ABC still hopes to make music with Lou Pearlman’s boy band, and is giving the show one more try starting June 8.

”Viewership is not that great,” admits executive producer Ken Mok, ”but it’s still a demographic bull’s-eye. It has a strong core of teens.” That said, MTV Productions — which produces the show with ABC — hopes viewers beyond the minimum drinking age will tune in to watch O-Town cut their first album, hit the road, and even go toe-to-toe with Pearlman over ”management conflicts,” Mok says. (That’s familiar territory for the venerable producer — the Backstreet Boys sued Pearlman for taking king-size profits. The suit was settled, and as a result, he no longer manages the band.) ”We show all of it,” promises Mok. ”We don’t tiptoe around it.” And if ”Band” still doesn’t pop in the ratings, MTV’s willing to pick up the slack: The cable network has agreed to run new episodes if ABC cans the show. Like, thank God.

COOK BOOKED There’s plenty of bam! in Emeril Lagasse to go around, apparently. ABC’s ”Good Morning America” has no plans to drop its weekly segments featuring the gregarious gourmet now that NBC has picked up his namesake sitcom for fall (Emeril plays himself). ”I think any success that Emeril has will be our success,” says ”GMA” executive producer Shelley Ross. ”There is no one like him right now.” The Peacock’s certainly pleased about the free cross-promotion. ”Do I wish he were on the ‘Today’ show?” asks NBC Studios president Ted Harbert. ”Yes, but it keeps his face out there.” Then again, maybe ABC honchos are wondering whether Emeril’s goose is already cooked: The NBC sitcom’s not only undergoing retooling this summer, but it also features two obnoxious coworkers who’ll have you calling for takeout by episode 2.

CLOSURE CALLS The cancellation ax came slamming down on the WB’s ”Popular” and UPN’s ”Moesha” before producers were able to resolve two cliff-hangers: On ”Popular,” a drunken Nicole was about to run over either Brooke or Sam, while Moesha’s finale focused on a secret pregnancy for Moesha, Niecy, Alicia, or Brenda. But fear not, die-hard fans: We’ve got answers for you! It was ”Popular”’s plan to make Brooke the whackee, while the mama-to-be will be revealed this fall on ”Moesha” spin-off ”The Parkers.” In fact, look for Brandy to guest-star. It was bad ratings that prompted the WB and UPN to cancel the two estrofests: ”Popular” dropped 10 percent from its previous season; ”Moesha” fell 8 percent.