Plus "Battle of the Network Stars", "Big Brother", and all of the latest news from the TV beat

‘Battle’ Plan

Like, it’s about time: NBC is considering reviving Battle of the Network Stars, a campy series of specials that ran on ABC in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Battle took celebs from different networks—stars like Maude‘s Adrienne Barbeau (CBS) and Baa Baa Black Sheep‘s Robert Conrad (NBC)—and pitted them against each other in track-and-field style contests of sweat and skill. Granted, Peacock suits have no illusions that they can bring back the good ol’ days when competing networks willingly participated in the fan-friendly Battle (remember how CBS and NBC reacted last year when ABC tried to use their stars for a celeb edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). But there is a way to tweak the show for today’s isolationist environment, says Robert Horowitz of IMG Sports, which owns the Battle rights (and which pitched the specials to CBS and ABC/ESPN). ”You could have multiple shows participate from one network as a way to promote their new fall lineup,” he says. Adds one NBC suit: ”If the other nets wanted to do it, we could do a second version and get them involved. But I don’t think that would ever happen.” Darn. Guess that means no potato-sack race between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jessica Alba.

Reality Redux

Here are the lessons we learned this summer: buffalo testicles good, murder mysteries bad. While low ratings prompted Fox to put the kibosh on a second season of Murder in Small Town X and Boot Camp, NBC has already ordered a second season of Fear Factor, which averaged 12 million viewers this summer. Also, look for NBC’s Spy TV to return next year, if not sooner. Episodes of Spy and Fear ”could be available as soon as midseason,” says Entertainment president Jeff Zucker, ”though our hope is that everything on the schedule works and we wouldn’t have to use them again until next summer. It’s clear that summer is now an important part of the year.” CBS, meanwhile, is considering a third go-round with Big Brother; executive producer Arnold Shapiro won’t confirm the voyeur fest’s return, though he is hopeful. ”No one has talked to me or [co-executive producer] Allison Grodner about it. Certainly, we achieved what we set out to do, which was to make a show that people would talk about. The fact that we achieved all that and that the ratings became phenomenally good during the last half of the run was just icing on the cake. So as I sit and look at it objectively, I guess my question is, why wouldn’t they want to do a Big Brother 3? But that’s something that would not start before March.”


Drew Carey has agreed to guest-star on the Nov. 4 episode of Nikki, a sophomore sitcom on The WB that is run by Bruce Helford, who is also the executive producer of ABC’s The Drew Carey Show. Carey will play a Vince McMahon-like character who buys Dwight’s (Nick von Esmarch) professional wrestling league. ”He plays a bad guy for the first time,” says Helford, who adds that Nikki will also benefit from several new writers this season. ”Drew’s way more versatile than what we usually see. He’s really different this time—except he still has his glasses on.”