On the Air
Along for the Wide
Apparently, the traditional screen format is becoming too square for network TV. Continuing a trend started by The West Wing, ER, and The Sopranos, NBC will letterbox the new crime drama Boomtown, and The WB will give the same treatment to the pilot for its Treat Williams series Everwood. CBS even considered whether to letterbox Robbery Homicide Division as a way to set apart the Friday-night Tom Sizemore vehicle, but executive producer Michael Mann said no bleeping way. ”Who gives a s — – if ER is letterboxed? It’s not as if they’re framing shots like a movie, which is the only justification for it,” says Mann. ”I told CBS I came back to TV to make a TV show. I’m storyboarding and framing all the episodes for that three-by-four TV screen. If I want a letterbox frame, I’ll go and make a f — -in’ movie.” How do you really feel, Michael?
Spoiler alert for Dawson’s Creek fans! After five interminable years of foreplay, Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes) will finally get down and dirty in a special two-hour premiere episode that airs Oct. 2 on The WB. ”It’s about time Dawson and Joey finally got it off their chests,” says Joshua Jackson (Pacey). ”Sleep together, for Christ’s sake.” Other surprises are planned for what will likely be Creek’s last year, like former WB hottie Oliver Hudson (My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star) signing on for 10 episodes as Eddie Doling, a blue-collar stud who catches Joey’s eye. In fact, Jackson promises ”a lot of things are going to finally happen that should have happened many, many years ago.” Hmmm, maybe that means the show’s actually gonna become watchable again.
Getting the Shaft
Television execs know a good moment-of-truth movie when they see one. No fewer than six telefilm producers flew to Pennsylvania to woo those nine coal miners who were trapped 240 feet underground in a shaft. While all gave enthusiastic pitches about how they’d tell the harrowing story on ABC this winter, The Last Don exec producer Larry Sanitsky won the right to make the flick. What’s Sanitsky’s secret? Well, it didn’t hurt that he helped to develop Touched by an Angel — a favorite of the deeply religious group of miners. But Sanitsky’s casual style of dress is what really sealed the deal. ”After they picked me, I called each miner the next day to thank them for putting their trust in me. One said, ‘You know why we picked you? You were wearing a T-shirt [and jeans].”’ (The miners are receiving $150,000 each for their story.) Production is set to begin next month near the Quecreek, Pa., site where the miners were trapped (no casting has been set, but Sanitsky is picturing a Band of Brothers-type ensemble, with relatively unknown actors playing the miners). Sanitsky is already anticipating it’ll blow the roof off Nielsen. ”The reason the country felt so strongly about this story is because it has a happy ending,” he says. ”We’ve been bombarded with stories of devastation and unimaginable death. Finally, we have something that harkens back to who we really are.”