Full Court Press
In the wake of Art Buchwald’s successful (so far) lawsuit against Paramount over Coming to America, you-stole-my-idea lawsuits are piling up. Writer Robert Kaufman is suing MCA Universal Studios for $350,000, a screen credit, and punitive damages, claiming that Major Dad is based on his 1971 treatment About Face Kids. Producer Joseph Kaufman has put a higher price tag ($90 million) on his suit against ABC and Group W Productions, saying the companies appropriated his concept for America’s Funniest Home Videos.
TV sales will bring the NFL $3.6 billion over the next four years. CBS will spend $1 billion for Sunday-afternoon NFC games. NBC will pay $750 million for Sunday-afternoon AFC games. And ABC will pay $950 million for Monday Night Football. Each network also gets a Super Bowl and a share of the playoffs. The other big spenders: TBS and ESPN, each paying $450 million for Sunday-night games.
The scenario sounds very familiar: A young, beautiful, and extremely ambitious network news correspondent goes up against an older, beautiful, and extremely ambitious news correspondent. There’s only one anchor job available — who’ll get it? To find out, you’ll have to wait for the CBS movie Dangerous Woman, currently shooting in Washington and Los Angeles. Heather Locklear and Barbara Eden are not — we repeat, not — playing Deborah Norville and Jane Pauley.
Winds of War
PBS will open its 1990-91 season next September with a five-part showing of The Civil War, an 11-hour documentary directed by Ken Burns (Brooklyn Bridge and Huey Long). The documentary includes battle accounts (Robert E. Lee) and features the voices of Morgan Freeman and Colleen Dewhurst. Civil War will air in prime-time Sept. 23-27.
CBS, ABC, and Fox are reshuffling the programs on their schedules to make room for new series. At Fox, In Living Color, a half-hour skit-comedy with Keenen Ivory Wayans, will join the lineup April 21. CBS will add Bagdad Cafe on March 30, along with Sugar and Spice, a comedy about two sisters raising their niece. And ABC’s mystery-soap opera Twin Peaks will make its debut April 8, followed by Capital News, a drama set at a Washington Post-like newspaper, on April 9.
Do Not Pass Go
Plans for Monopoly, a TV version of the Parker Bros. game, may be falling apart. At January’s convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives, where local stations buy new series, the pilot was poorly received: Some station representatives were confused by the rules and objected to the content, including use of a dancing female midget to portray Rich Uncle Pennybags. Producer King World promised improvements, but stations haven’t lined up to buy it. ”The one thing about Monopoly everyone remembers,” one rival syndicator said, ”is that it takes forever to play. How can you turn that into a game show?”