ABC's ''Victoria's Secret'' special draws FCC fire
Plus, news about Rob Morrow, Rodney Dangerfield, U2, Jack Wagner, Harvey Keitel, Yasmine Bleeth, Robert Downey Jr., Douglas Adams, Danny Glover, Wallace Shawn, and others
TUBE TALK Was it worth it? ”The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” drew 12.4 million viewers to ABC on Thursday night, better numbers than ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” usually does in that 9 p.m. time slot. Still, that was only half what CBS’s ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” pulled during the same hour. What attention ABC did get was largely negative, including dozens of complaints emailed to the Federal Communications Commission over the show’s allegedly too-racy-for-prime-time content. (Curiously, no one complained that the special was just an hourlong infomercial, or that expanding a 20-minute fashion show to fill an hour required more padding than a Miracle Bra.) FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who received 50 emails protesting the show and the ABC promos advertising it, says he is now considering placing content restrictions on commercials, possibly making them subject to the same V-chip ratings as programs (”Victoria’s Secret” was rated TV-14) and restricting them to airing during shows that carry the same rating. The New York Post reports that outrage over the show (and its failure to beat CBS and NBC on an important sweeps night) could be the last straw for ABC entertainment cochairs Lloyd Braun and Stu Bloomberg, giving Disney execs an excuse to fire the pair after a term in which ABC has slipped from first to fourth among the broadcast networks….
”The Invisible Man” will vanish from the Sci-Fi Channel’s lineup. Despite a unique deal that had episodes of the show airing in syndication just three months after their first run on Sci-Fi, the series couldn’t make enough viewers appear to justify its cost, reportedly more than $1 million per episode. The final original episodes will air in January and February on Sci-Fi, and as late as August on syndicated stations….
Other cable series on the chopping block are Showtime’s ”Going to California” and ”Leap Years.” Showtime has, however, renewed ”Soul Food” for another two seasons and committed to 15 more episodes of ”Resurrection Blvd.” It’s also launching a new drama series, ”Street Time,” starring Rob Morrow as a convicted drug smuggler who tries to go straight when he’s paroled after five years in prison….
Director Mimi Leder (”ER,” ”Deep Impact,”), who’s already working on a drama for Fox about bioterrorism fighters at the Centers for Disease Control, is also developing a less serious action series for the network. Called ”The Furies,” it’s about four women, friends since college, who use their supernatural powers to wreak vigilante vengeance on evildoers who’ve escaped legal justice. ”It’s ‘Mission: Impossible’ meets ‘Run Lola Run’ times four,” Leder tells the Hollywood Reporter. Her brother, Reuben Leder, is writing the pilot script….
Over on UPN, ”NYPD Blue” cocreator David Milch is developing an buddy/action comedy series about the cross-country adventures of a street hustler and his naive alien pal. With this show, ”Enterprise,” and ”Roswell,” UPN should have that lucrative extraterrestrial demographic all sewn up….
Rodney Dangerfield will get some respect from Jay Leno and other comics and actors on the occasion of his 80th birthday, which falls on Thanksgiving. Leno and pals will tape birthday congratulations to the comedy legend for Wednesday’s ”Tonight Show.” On Thanksgiving Day, another special ”Tonight” episode, featuring U2‘s first-ever performance on the series, will be telecast live to U.S. troops all over the world via the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, before airing at its usual time in the States….
All he needs… is a way out of this sand trap. Jack Wagner will host a golf show on ESPN called ”Off Course.” Each episode will feature the former ”Melrose Place” star shooting a round with a celebrity or athlete and interviewing his fellow golfer on the finer points of his or her game. Why does this idea sound like ”Love Boat” with divots?…
MTV plans to do its part in the propaganda war in the Middle East. MTV airs throughout the region, including countries like Pakistan, where, despite rampant anti-American sentiment among young people, it is the most popular music channel. Along with a recently launched international pen-pal service, proposals include airing ”Rock the Vote”-type public service announcements and cultural exchange programs for VJs. After all, it’s important to convince teenagers abroad that the country that produced Christina Aguilera is not the Great Satan.