In Cops We Trust
Now here’s a real crime: CBS goes out and burns nearly $1.5 million per episode to produce a sleek, new, high-profile edition of The Fugitive, starring Tim Daly as framed and desperate Dr. Richard Kimble. It gives the show the lead-off Friday spot, spends tons promoting it over the summer, and — whaddaya know — it still gets clubbed in a head-to-head matchup by Fox’s low-budget and lower-brow Police Videos, which costs a relatively meager $650,000 to $750,000 to produce. In fact, in the first three weeks of the season, Police Videos has effectively drawn double Fugitive’s audience among 18- to 34-year-olds. What gives? ”It’s reality,” says Paul Stojanovich, creator-executive producer of the Fox hour. ”Everybody wants to see the real deal more than fiction.” CBS declined to comment on the Police-versus-Fugitive duel (though its recent decision to pick up the drama for the rest of the season was a sign of faith), but one media analyst sums up the show’s lackluster results thusly: ”Viewers must feel like The Fugitive is yesterday’s news — been there, done that. I mean, how many guys named Richard Kimble can you give a crap about in a single lifetime?”
Love, Italian Style
Leaking story lines about HBO’s Mafia drama The Sopranos is akin to ratting out Don Corleone. Which makes the following rumor all the more juicy: Word has it that during the show’s third season (which debuts in March), long-suffering Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) will engage in a lesbian liaison with a tennis pro (played by Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 hottie Erica Leerhsen). Alas, no snitches at HBO would confirm the story: Leerhsen (who definitely is playing a gay tennis pro) was required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and an HBO spokesperson would not dream of singing like a canary. Reasons the flack, ”Sopranos viewers tend to enjoy the show a lot more if we don’t ruin it for them.” Can you say omerta?
That Shrinking Feeling
Dr. Laura Schlessinger is not going down without a fight. The gay-chiding talk-show host, whose syndicated series is still struggling to find an audience (even after two retoolings), will be sitting for an exclusive interview with Maria Shriver for a November sweeps installment of Dateline NBC. In return for the potentially ratings-grabbing interview, sources say, Schlessinger sought one concession from the Dateline folks: No one else can be interviewed on camera for the piece. An NBC spokeswoman denied making any such deal. ”NBC News has a policy against cutting deals for interviews,” she said. Guess we’ll soon see for ourselves.
And So On…
NBC has bought a script for a proposed new Mad About You-style romantic comedy series exec-produced by (drumroll, please) Paul Reiser. Paula Marshall, costar of last year’s David E. Kelley flop Snoops, would star.
— Additional reporting by Lynette Rice and William Keck