Poll Vaulting While it doesn’t seem possible, the nation’s television audience has been thinking about other shows besides Survivor. Viewers are already looking forward — with varying degrees of interest — to fall. According to an awareness tracking study (conducted by research firm Lieberman Worldwide via phone polls), folks are more conscious of CBS’ upcoming The Fugitive than ABC’s Madigan Men starring Gabriel Byrne, while The WB’s teen-soap parody Grosse Pointe from Darren Star is more familiar than CBS’ Yes, Dear with Mike O’ Malley (shocking). Granted, strong awareness is assured if the show title includes a celebrity name; the report says more viewers are in the know about CBS’ Bette and ABC’s The Geena Davis Show than two new dramas from Dick Wolf (Deadline) and the team behind The Blair Witch Project (Freakylinks). But, says one Big Four research executive, ”it’s no guarantee that people are coming. The Tony Danza Show on NBC had huge awareness a few years back, but nobody came to the party.” The key, says the executive, is to track whether these same viewers actually plan to watch the show. Consider this statistic: Only a small number of viewers recognized UPN’s upcoming cybercrime drama Level Nine — but nearly two thirds promised they would watch. Conversely, only one third of those who were surveyed about David E. Kelley’s new Fox series, Boston Public, said they would tune in. Perhaps casting Richard Hatch as a guidance counselor would help.
‘Sex’ Excess If Sex and the City has seemed even racier than usual of late, you have to give some credit to director Charles McDougall. He’s the guy who helped make the British series Queer as Folk notorious for its graphic sex scenes, and he’s also the one who helmed the recent City episode that featured explicit shots of an orally fixated Kim Cattrall. Since McDougall won’t be doing the American version of Queer for Showtime (pilot duties have been assumed by The Shadow’s Russell Mulcahy), he’ll be free to steam up more City episodes. ”I love Charles. He’s really dry and gets American wildness,” says City executive producer Michael Patrick King. ”Some directors skim over sex, and that’s not right. They don’t want to investigate how they can make it stylish.”
And So On … Don’t expect much from the Big Four in the way of creative counterprogramming opposite the Olympics. CBS hopes nightly repeats of Survivor (and more somnambulant episodes of Big Brother) will stave off Sydney competition on NBC from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1. ABC will use gold-medal fill-in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, while Fox will rely on specials like Music Mania 2000 (airing Sept. 15), featuring Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, and 98[degrees]. Only UPN and The WB will roll out new fare when they launch their fall seasons Sept. 4 and 22, respectively.