- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dancing’ redux

ABC’s surprise summer hit “Dancing With the Stars” finally has a return date set.

The reality series will start its second season in January in what is slated to be an eight-week run, Associated Press reports.

The series will pinch-hit for “Alias,” which is going on hiatus to accommodate star Jennifer Garner’s maternity leave, ABC said Friday. Miss Garner is expecting her first child with husband Ben Affleck later this year.

“Dancing with the Stars” attracted an average weekly audience of nearly 17 million viewers and became the most-watched network summer series in the past five years. It remains to be seen if interest will be as high during the regular television season, which features more original shows than repeat-heavy summertime.

The series wrapped with a September dance-off between initial champion Kelly Monaco (ABC’s “General Hospital”) and her partner and runner-up John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld”) and his partner. Mr. O’Hurley won, but that show drew a smaller audience.

The dance show’s second run will start Jan. 5. It features new celebrities to be announced later, ABC said. “Alias” is expected to return in the spring with fresh episodes.

New home for ‘Futurama

Matt Groening’s “Futurama” never developed the feverish following that his family sitcom “The Simpsons” earned on Fox.

The show still has its admirers since Comedy Central is trying to negotiate the series away from the Cartoon Network starting in 2008, the Reuters news agency reports.

Comedy Central said it has signed a multiyear deal with syndicator Twentieth Television to acquire all 72 episodes of the animated comedy series. The show currently airs on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block, but its rights expire at the end of 2007.

Sources told Reuters that Comedy Central paid about $400,000 per episode, but the network and Twentieth declined comment on financial terms of the deal. The Emmy-winning “Futurama” aired on Fox from 1999-2003. The show followed a pizza delivery boy who is frozen in the year 1999 and thawed out 100 years later. It featured the voices of Katey Sagal and Billy West.

Medicine’ runs out

Lifetime’s “Strong Medicine” is set to expire in early 2006.

The medical drama, the longest-running original drama series ever created for basic cable, will end its run at six years, the Reuters reports.

“After 132 episodes, we felt that the show had, as all television programs eventually do, run its course, and it was time to offer viewers another option,” the network said.

Ironically, the series is averaging 2.5 million total viewers per first-run episode this year, up 10 percent from last season. The show features Rosa Blasi and Rick Schroder as dueling doctors who run a women’s clinic.

This is CNN India

CNN is spreading its programming reach into the subcontinent.

The all-news network is teaming with a local Indian news channel to start a 24-hour news outlet to be called CNN-IBN, Associated Press reports. The new channel will combine programming from CNN and Global Broadcasting News, a TV 18 Group company.

Indian laws require foreign television companies to enter into partnerships with Indian firms if they want to broadcast news by uplinking from India. Foreign investment in such ventures must not exceed 26 percent, and the editorial and managerial control of the news channel must remain with Indians.

Permission to uplink (transferring programming content to a satellite) is crucial, because without it a news channel can’t offer live telecasts of events.

No financial details of the deal were released.

CNN International is widely available over cable networks in India, and it was not immediately clear if it would continue to broadcast and, to a degree, compete with the new network there.

CNN is a subsidiary of the media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. TV 18 is a leading Indian television programming company that also makes content for the Indian edition of the business news channel CNBC.

Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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