- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

New at Nick

A pair of retro television networks are looking ahead for a change.

TV Land and Nick at Nite say they’ll begin producing a new series for the first time, Associated Press reports.

The concept may disorient the networks’ viewers, accustomed to dusty reruns of classic TV shows. But executives say they are carefully trying to extend the brand.

First up: “Fatherhood,” a cartoon based on Bill Cosby’s best-selling book, scheduled to air on Nick at Nite in June.

“It’s really not fundamentally a big change in our strategy,” Larry Jones, general manager of both TV Land and Nick at Nite, told AP. “It’s taking a business opportunity in a particular hour in a targeted way.”

Nick at Nite airs reruns on the Nickelodeon children’s network when the youngsters (supposedly) are in bed, starting at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) and continuing through the overnight hours. TV Land, on the other hand, is a separate basic cable outlet devoted exclusively to old TV. Both are owned by Viacom, which also owns CBS, UPN, MTV and BET cable channels and the Paramount movie studio.

Other series in development for Nick at Nite include “Zen & Buster,” a cartoon about dogs in Hollywood created by Kelsey Grammer, and “Alf’s Hit Talk Show,” with the puppet alien interviewing celebrities.

Nick at Nite is positioning “Fatherhood” for the 9 p.m. “transition hour” after the children’s fare ends, starting with one night a week and shooting eventually for five.

TV Land has produced occasional specials in recent years, and its series likely will air on Sunday nights.

Salute to our troops

Principal pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra will honor U.S. servicemen and women stationed around the world tonight with a concert taped earlier this month in the District.

“On Stage at the Kennedy Center: A Holiday Concert for the Troops With Marvin Hamlisch” airs at 8 p.m. on WETA-TV, Channel 26.

The concert, recorded before a crowd filled with servicemen and their families, will feature performances by soprano and D.C. native Harolyn Blackwell, the Children’s Chorus of Washington, pop and jazz singer Cyndi Lauper, the Master Chorale of Washington, country music star Kathy Mattea, the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and the U.S. Army Soldiers Chorus.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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