- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

Closing NBC’s ‘Book’

A growing number of NBC affiliates are refusing to air the new series “The Book of Daniel,” which debuted Friday evening with a two-hour episode.

The drama’s depiction of an Episcopal priest who pops pills, preaches that sinners shouldn’t beat themselves up for their transgressions and supports premarital sex drew the ire of pro-family groups before the first broadcast.

Prior to Friday’s premiere, NBC affiliates KBTV in Beaumont, Texas, and WGBC in Meridian, Miss. joined KARK in Little Rock, Ark., and WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind. in opting not to air “Daniel,” Associated Press reports.

The Peacock network isn’t flinching from the news — at least not yet.

NBC has 230 affiliates nationally, and a network spokeswoman noted that the four affiliates make up less than 1 percent of NBC’s national audience.

The battle will likely hinge on the show’s ratings — about 9 million viewers, reports Reuters news agency, citing preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research — and whether public pressure convinces more affiliates to join the four stations. Final ratings data will be available later today.

The series, airing Fridays at 10 p.m., stars Aidan Quinn as the Rev. Daniel Webster, a character who talks regularly with Jesus Christ.

Olympic Flip

Rap rockers Flipsyde might not be household names yet, but millions will hear their music in the next few weeks.

“Someday,” from the band’s summer release “We the People,” will be the theme song for NBC’s coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics, Reuters reports.

Interscope records re-released the album in December (with new track “Happy Birthday”) to coincide with NBC’s decision.

The infectious “Someday” is heard — and identified — in TV spots that began airing a few weeks ago. The music video-like ads intertwine footage of the Bay Area quartet and such athletes as Apolo Anton Ohno and Michelle Kwan.

“This is a great way to get our music heard,” Flipsyde frontman Piper told Billboard. “It’s also a great way to cut through the clutter.”

Indeed. “We the People” sold 500 units in the week ending Dec. 25, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The CD doubled its sales the following week, ending Jan. 1.

For its part, NBC was looking for an edgy song filled with hope and achievement, Barbara Blangiardi, the network’s vice president of marketing and special projects, told Reuters. More importantly, perhaps, NBC wanted a song that would resonate with the much-coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic.

“When we heard ‘Someday,’ we knew it was the song,” she says.

Cowell’s new tune

Audiences will soon have a new batch of wannabe singers to mock, courtesy of “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell.

The sardonic Mr. Cowell is executive producing “Duets,” a new singing show for Fox in which professional singers pair off with celebrities outside of the music business to perform for a panel of judges and a studio audience, Reuters reports.

However, viewers will have the final say in voting off contestants.

Mr. Cowell, whose snarky comments on “Idol” have become a major audience draw for the show, will not appear as a judge. He sold the format last month to U.K. broadcaster ITV.

The search for celebrities to star in the series, which has been eyed for a summer run, is under way.

Partnering professional performers with celebrities from a different field has been a hot genre in the reality TV world since ABC struck gold last summer with the British format “Dancing With the Stars.” Fox will soon join the fray with “Skating With Celebrities.”

Mr. Cowell, whose singing competition series “The X Factor” is a megahit in the U.K., also is executive producing “American Inventor,” a reality competition series for ABC searching for the next great product concept.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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