- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

Farewell ‘Nightline’?

ABC shot a pilot last week for a late-night show that could replace its long-running “Nightline,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The highly regarded news show appeared to be on the ropes three years ago, and now it seems the network is again rethinking its future.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper shot the potential replacement pilot with Bill Weir, co-anchor of the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” the newspaper reports.

One subject on the pilot’s agenda was the Michael Jackson child molestation trial — typical of the kind of story from which Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” tries to steer clear.

The Long Island-based Newsday reported late last week that network suits were considering George Stephanopoulos for Mr. Koppel’s replacement in the “Nightline” anchor chair in an effort to draw younger viewers.

Mr. Koppel has hosted “Nightline” since 1980 but now fronts the program just three days a week.

Retirement ‘JAG’

David James Elliott has seen enough faux military duty.

The actor will leave the CBS drama “JAG” this May after a decade with the show, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Elliott, who plays military attorney Cmdr. Harmon “Harm” Rabb Jr., will exit the CBS series when it concludes its 10th season this spring.

He won’t be out of work for long. Mr. Elliott has signed a series development deal with ABC and Touchstone Television.

“JAG’s” return for the 2005-06 season is still up in the air, but its producers aren’t taking any chances. Series creator Donald Bellisario is introducing a new character who could fill the void left by Mr. Elliott later this month. Chris Beetem, formerly of “As the World Turns,” is set to join the cast as a new JAG team member.

“JAG” co-stars Catherine Bell, Patrick Labyorteaux, Scott Lawrence and Zoe McLellan and airs Friday nights at 9.

Somewhat super

The New England Patriots’ 24-21 Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was seen by an estimated 86.1 million people, down 4 percent from last year, Nielsen Media Research said yesterday.

Yet Fox isn’t likely to complain. The Super Bowl is routinely TV’s most-watched event. Over the past 20 years, the game’s viewership has ranged from 73.9 million (1990, San Francisco vs. Denver) to 94.1 million (1996, Dallas vs. Pittsburgh). Moreover, the network says Sunday’s competitive game helped keep fans interested. The teams were tied entering the fourth quarter, and Fox said viewership peaked after 10 p.m. in the game’s last quarter.

Fox also says the figures represent a 2 percent increase from the average of the past five years — even without a wardrobe malfunction.

Nielsen said 89.8 million people watched last year, and 88.6 million in 2003.

The host city — Jacksonville, Fla. — drew the highest rating of any major city, followed by Philadelphia. Boston was third.

New ‘Prairie’ on tap

ABC is hoping to woo fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books all over again.

The network will introduce a new, short-form version of “Little House on the Prairie” next month for what may become a full-fledged series, the New York Post reports.

The paper says the new show will be much closer to the source material than the beloved NBC series of the 1970s, which starred the late Michael Landon.

Newcomer Kyle Chavarria will star as Laura Ingalls, with Danielle Ryan Chuchran playing older sister Mary.

Cameron Bancroft fills the role of Pa, formerly occupied by Mr. Landon, and Erin Cottrell is Ma.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.


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