On the Air
There’s nothing the TV audience likes better than a familiar name. Phone-survey tracking studies — which the networks use this time of year to measure viewer awareness of new shows — indicate that CBS’ CSI: Miami, starring David Caruso and Kim Delaney, is the most recognizable new show on the fall schedule to fans. Other established brands, including UPN’s upcoming remake of The Twilight Zone and The WB’s updated Family Affair, are also generating high awareness levels. Whether audiences actually tune in, though, is a different matter: A current network survey reveals that many folks know about NBC’s retro drama American Dreams but few registered much intent to watch. The same goes for ABC’s miniseries spin-off Dinotopia (apparently computer-generated pterodactyls aren’t as hot as they once were) and NBC’s cop drama Boomtown, starring Jason Gedrick and Donnie Wahlberg. Of course, network suits try not to put too much weight on the awareness survey. Admits one Big Four exec, ”They give you some indication of whether your promos are working, though it really doesn’t take competition into account.”
Now that the puppets-making-phony-phone-calls show Crank Yankers has been picked up for a second season by Comedy Central, exec producers Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla, and Daniel Kellison plan to shoot for the stars — the A-list ones, that is. So far, Alec Baldwin is in talks to follow in the footsteps of comics Tracy Morgan, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Nealon, and Denis Leary by placing perverse calls to unsuspecting saps (puppets then reenact the calls on Yankers), and the producers are also planning to put out offers to high-wattage celebs like Adam Sandler, Robin Williams, and Jim Carrey. In its first season, Yankers improved the net’s Sunday-night performance by 22 percent, and new episodes will begin airing in early 2003. Says Kellison, ”It’s really a perfect way for an established actor to show his comedic chops and get away with stuff the audience would never expect him to do.” Here’s hoping Baldwin calls Kim Basinger to ask if her refrigerator is running.
AND SO ON… Ally McBeal’s Jane Krakowski is taking on her old boss, David E. Kelley, but it’s all in good fun: She’ll play a quirky traveling psychologist on The WB’s new drama Everwood on Oct. 21 — the same night Kelley’s new legal drama girls club debuts on Fox…. Break out the ouzo! Eager to profit from My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s phenomenal success at the box office (nearing a whopping $100 million at last count), CBS is close to picking up a small-screen version of the movie for a midseason run. The sitcom pilot from Nia Vardalos (whose one-woman show was the basis for Wedding) and Marsh McCall (Just Shoot Me) had been in development for fall but didn’t make the cut.