The latest news from the TV beat

By Lynette Rice
Updated October 19, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

‘Drew’ the Right Thing?

It appears Cleveland doesn’t rock as hard as before. Viewers haven’t been showing the love to the seven-year-old Drew Carey Show, which managed to muster up merely 10 million viewers for its variety-hour premiere Sept. 26 and its first regular episode Oct. 3. That’s not only down from last year’s season average of 12.8 million, but it represents a career-low debut for the comedy (Carey’s best season opener was in September 1997, with 18.5 million). Oddly enough, the Alphabet suits aren’t worried — even though they recently picked up the series for three more years. ”It’s still one of our highest-rated shows,” says ABC scheduling exec Jeff Bader. ”Wednesday nights are the most competitive on TV. Three weeks ago, we were worried about [CBS’] The Amazing Race. Now [NBC’s] The West Wing absolutely dominates the time period. But we are the first choice for sitcom viewers in the time period.” Of course, Fox’s Titus is Carey’s only sitcom competition in the Wednesdays-at-9 p.m. time slot — and Titus doesn’t have its season premiere until Nov. 14.

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TNT may find itself charmed not once, but twice, with programming from sister net The WB. Now that TNT has a deal in place to air reruns of Charmed Tuesdays at 10 p.m., sources say the cabler is considering whether or not to air episodes of another WB drama — possibly Gilmore Girls or Smallville — as early as next season. Like the Charmed deal, reruns of Girls or Smallville would air within a week of their debut on The WB and potentially bolster TNT’s longterm strategy of luring young adults to the 10 p.m. time periods. ”There are plenty of 12- to 34-year-olds who don’t have a programming alternative at 10 p.m.,” says one TNT insider. ”Not everybody who would like to watch a show like Charmed on The WB Thursdays can see it. So they’ll have another shot at it on TNT.” Hey, if they want to show Smallville hunk Tom Welling (above, left) 100 times a week, that’s fine by us.


Gentlemen, start your engines! Hoping that racing fans will go along for the joyride, NBC is developing two NASCAR-themed dramas for fall 2002. Sources say Sylvester Stallone is teaming with Brad Grey Television to produce a spin-off of his motion picture Driven, while Regency Television is developing a series about two NASCAR drivers and their families. Why the interest in fast cars? Consider the recent appeal of NASCAR on NBC and TNT: Ratings are not only up 20 percent over last year, but the sport has begun to pique the interest of the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic — many of whom turned out to see this summer’s drag-racing drama The Fast and the Furious…. NBC execs are considering bringing the 1999 Pierce Brosnan vehicle The Thomas Crown Affair to the small screen. Tom Selleck may star….On Dec. 12, Connie Stevens will pick up the ball from Frances Fisher as the mom on Fox’s Titus. Also joining the clan is Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls), who’ll recur as Titus’ hot half-sister Shannon.

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