- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ABC bets on cavemen

ABC will introduce eight new series this fall and 12 overall for the 2007-08 season — including a comedy based on the cavemen from the Geico Insurance commercials, MediaWeek.com reports.

Overall, just 30 percent of the network’s fall lineup will be occupied with new or relocated programming, with changes impacting the Monday-through-Friday lineups. There are five new fall dramas — “Pushing Daisies,” the highly touted “Dirty Sexy Money” (starring Peter Krause of “Six Feet Under” fame), “Big Shots,” “Women’s Murder Club” and the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff, “Private Practice.” Joining the cavemen in the comedy category are “Carpoolers” and “Sam, I Am.”

Several shows are staying put, including “College Football” on Saturday and the Sunday rotation of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” ABC’s Sunday night lineup of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters” will remain intact.

However, Wednesday’s lineup will be completely revamped with the new dramas “Pushing Daisies,” “Private Practice” and “Dirty Sexy Money,” while the returning “Men in Trees” will relocate to the Friday 8 p.m. anchor spot.

ABC also announced an aggressive slate of new midseason entries, including the sitcom “Miss/Guided”; dramas “Cashmere Mafia” and “Eli Stone”; and the non-scripted “Oprah’s Big Give.” “Lost,” “Supernanny,” “Wife Swap,” “October Road” and “Notes From the Underbelly” also will be back for new seasons. Not returning are the sitcoms “According to Jim,” “George Lopez,” “In Case of Emergency” and “The Knights of Prosperity.” Also ending are the dramas “Day Break,” “The Nine,” “Six Degrees,” “Traveler” and “What About Brian.”

The network’s two Thursday night hits, “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” will remain in their slots at 8 and 9 p.m. respectively.

Cannes do

Maybe you can’t join the stars from around the world as they converge on the French Riviera for the world’s most famous film festival.

At least you can watch.

TV5Monde, the French-language network, has the only nationwide live coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival. The fun starts this afternoon at 12:45 p.m.

Meanwhile, those more interested in the films than the stars will want to watch Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Cannes, a two-night event that begins at 8 tonight with the premiere of “Bienvenue a Cannes.”

Directed by Richard Schickel, the original documentary offers an American look at the French festival through interviews with directors Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood, actors Willem Dafoe and Chloe Sevigny and critics Roger Ebert and A.O. Scott, among others.

“Bienvenue” not only examines the glitz and glamour as the festival celebrates its 60th birthday, but also takes a look at serious events such as the 1968 student protests and how the festival can springboard a director to fame — as it did for Steven Soderbergh with “Sex, Lies and Videotape.”

Following tonight’s documentary, TCM will air a few of the great films that have earned awards at Cannes, such as “Blow-Up” (from 1966, winner of the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or). It airs overnight at 12:45 a.m., followed by fellow festival winners — 1961’s “Viridiana” (2:45 a.m.) and 1974’s “The Conversation” (4:30 a.m.).

New face on ‘Early’

Maggie Rodriguez, who has been lead anchor for the CBS-owned WFOR-TV in Miami, will become co-anchor of CBS’ “The Saturday Early Show ” effective June 1, TV Week.com reports.

She’ll replace Tracy Smith, who will continue as “Early Show” national correspondent while also reporting for the “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” and “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

CBS has yet to name Miss Rodriguez’s “Saturday” co-anchor. The network has been auditioning CBS News and CBS Sports personnel on the show in the months since founding “Saturday” co-anchor Russ Mitchell became weekday “Early Show” news anchor and Sunday “Evening News” anchor.

Among those considered to be viable candidates are “NFL Today” host and District native James Brown, WCBS-TV anchor Chris Wragge and “Early Show” national correspondent Jeff Glor.

Sluggish sweeps

Eating bugs, stabbing fish with a makeshift spear and backstabbing on a tropical island appear to be losing their appeal for “Survivor” fans.

The long-running CBS game isn’t immune to the general malaise affecting network TV this spring; just 13.6 million people watched Sunday as California advertising executive Earl Cole unanimously won the Fiji edition, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s off 17 percent from the 16.4 million people who watched the end of the previous edition in December. Last spring’s finale had 17.1 million viewers, Nielsen said.

It illustrates how long it has been since the first “Survivor,” in the summer of 2000, electrified fans and drew 51.6 million people to its conclusion. The latest game was the 14th “Survivor” edition.

Even television’s May sweeps, usually a season’s climax, can’t seem to get viewers excited. Only the two “American Idol” editions and “House” on Fox brought in more than 20 million viewers last week, Nielsen said. ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” slipped to 16.1 million viewers.

Overall, CBS was the nation’s most popular network last week, averaging 11.3 million viewers in prime time. Fox had 10.3 million and won among viewers aged 18 to 49. Following were ABC with 9.6 million, NBC with 6.9 million, the CW with 3.1 million, My Network TV with 810,000 and ION with 600,000.

For the week of May 7 through 13, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were 1) “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 28.2 million; 2) “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 25.4 million; 3) “House,” Fox, 21.3 million; 4) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 19.5 million; and 5) “Dancing With the Stars” (Monday), ABC, 19.4 million.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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