CBS goes for the jugular in the a.m.
Plus, ''Chuck & Buck'' creator develops a TV series, and more
MORNING SIGN? First came CBS’ attack on NBC’s Thursday night lineup with ”Survivor 2”; now the Eye thinks it’s time to ambush the Peacock in the a.m. With Katie Couric considering a life outside of the ”Today” show’s Rockefeller Center studio, and a new executive producer attempting to fill the very big shoes of former ”Today” exec producer Jeff Zucker (now NBC’s entertainment topper), CBS honchos believe they’ve got an opportunity to put some chinks in ”Today”’s armor. CBS’ ”The Early Show” — which has languished in last place since its 1999 debut — is certainly enjoying better days lately: Ratings for the breakfast cast are up 22 percent among women 18-49 and 11 percent among adults 25-54 (a phenomenon that should certainly bode well for Bryant Gumbel, whose reported $6 million a year contract is up next spring). ”’Survivor’ got viewers in the door, and the show’s strong enough to lock them in,” says senior exec producer Steve Friedman, who’s anticipating an even greater boost when the new reality series ”The Amazing Race” debuts this fall. ”The most important thing is to show people that we should be their first choice.” Okay, let’s not get carried away.
SERIAL THRILLER If actor screenwriter Mike White’s indie stalker comedy ”Chuck & Buck” gave you the creeps, get ready for more of the same on Fox’s ”Pasadena” — White’s first TV series after making the movie. White originally delivered a sanitized prime time soap starring Dana Delany, but then execs at Fox decided something darker would suit their schedule better. ”They wanted a show that would get some attention, so they asked me to think more like ‘Chuck & Buck,”’ says White, also a former ”Dawson’s Creek” writer. ”I said, ‘Be careful what you ask for.”’ To that end, White will put the lunacy in overdrive as he tells the story of a dysfunctional rich family, with Delany playing a villainous mother of a teen daughter in a relationship that White describes as ”’Gilmore Girls’ from hell.” Adds the scribe, ”It would be hard to go there every week if it were ‘Chuck & Buck.’ This will have a more pleasurable disturbing quality as opposed to a deeply unsettling, run from the room quality.” With any luck, these changes won’t result in a ”gee we can’t cancel it quick enough” quality.
AND SO ON? Wasn’t a return to ”Growing Pains” enough? Now the folks behind ”Who’s the Boss?” are talking about a reunion movie for ABC, though Tony Danza says he’d prefer it to feature a half hour of behind-the-scenes footage that leads into a 30 minute reunion episode. ”We did 199 episodes, so this would be the 200th episode and it would be like a fantasy camp,” says Danza. ”Everybody’s still around, and I think everybody wants to do it. Even maybe Alyssa Milano.” (Additional reporting by Caroline Kepnes)