The latest news from the TV beat

Taking a ‘Pasadena’

Looks like it’s not getting any easier for prime-time soaps to stay afloat: Fox’s Pasadena, starring Dana Delany (below), has lured only an average of 4.3 million viewers on Fridays — even less than the 7.4 million who tuned in to NBC’s quickly axed Yasmine Bleeth sudser Titans last year. Are viewers over weekly melodramas? ”Given that both Titans and Pasadena didn’t really evoke much sampling, my sense is that this genre needs a new twist to regain its popularity,” says Turner Broadcasting programming exec Garth Ancier — who was the only suit to champion Titans while helming NBC Entertainment last year. ”Clearly no one has cracked that yet.” But not for a lack of trying. Titans creator Charles Pratt Jr. admits that he’s received four calls since the Sept. 11 attacks from networks desperate for escapist fare. ”They want the next Dynasty. I say, are you kidding? But the truth is, I’d love to have the chance again. It’s something I’m an expert on,” says Pratt, who agrees the nighttime serial format needs to be tweaked: ”We’ve got to stay away from rich people.” And really, that’s a pretty good motto for life in general.

Cass Study

Finally, a resolution to those death-by-ham-sandwich rumors. Sources say Kathy Najimy (Veronica’s Closet) is in early talks with Uber-producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows) to develop the life story of the Mamas and the Papas singer Cass Elliot. Najimy hopes to produce and star in the telefilm that could ultimately showcase the M&P’s memorable music, much the way Shadows did using several Garland tunes. ”She was a full-rounded human being, excuse the pun,” says Najimy of Cass. ”She was brave, but also very tragic.” Speaking of bravery, the 44-year-old Najimy hopes to play the singer from age 28 to her untimely death a few years later. ”She was only [in her early 30s] when she passed away,” frets Najimy. ”You think I can pull it off?” Honey, if Kirstie Alley could keep Closet on NBC for four years, you can surely do this.

AND SO ON…The prime-time Emmy awards have yet to air on CBS, but Showtime already has big plans for the 54th ceremony. The pay network hopes to shake up next year’s best movie category with The Believer, a Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that stars Ryan Gosling (Remember the Titans) as an orthodox Jew-turned-neo-Nazi. The TV Academy recently clarified its rules to allow submission of films initially intended for theatrical release, as The Believer was before Showtime snapped it up earlier this year. Originally set to debut this month (but postponed because of the terrorist attacks), the film will now air in March. ”Emmys are about awarding excellence on television,” posits Showtime programming president Jerry Offsay. ”People don’t care what the source was or who initiated the programs they watched.”

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