It was Bernie Mac who told his TV kid, ”I’m going to bust your head ‘til the white meat shows,” but come this fall, he could be the one who ends up taking a beating. As part of its fall 2002 schedule, Fox will be pitting The Bernie Mac Show (the net’s only true new hit of this past season) against Damon Wayans’ ABC sitcom My Wife and Kids, a consistent time-slot winner among both 18- to 49-year-olds and total viewers on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. Although Mac is no slouch in the house of Nielsen (his series won its time slot among 18- to 34-year-olds), Damon Wayans and Co. did attract more viewers (11.1 million versus 9.5 million). ”These are very different shows,” says Stephen McPherson, president of Touchstone Television, which produces the Wayans sitcom. ”My Wife and Kids is one the whole family can sit down and enjoy. The shock value of Bernie Mac is interesting, but it’s not the kind of thing we’re going to do.” Still, sources say that Wayans himself would prefer not to match wits with his friend Mac, while the folks at Fox seem to be eager for the showdown. ”Hey, that’s show business,” says Bernie creator-exec producer Larry Wilmore. ”You can’t take it personally. Sure, the only two black family shows on TV are opposite one another, but that’s why you have TiVo. That’s why you have a VCR.”
Tick, tack, d’oh! After initial talk of snagging some high-wattage celeb to replace the outgoing Whoopi Goldberg, it now appears as if Hollywood Squares exec producers Henry Winkler (yes, the Fonz) and Michael Levitt are looking to rotate the spot with ”top names in the business,” according to a source close to the show. This change couldn’t come at a more crucial time for Squares, which once averaged 5.5 million viewers but is now lucky to pull in 3.9 million. Theme weeks are also planned for the new Squares – set to relaunch in September – but luring big-name seat warmers remains job one. ”Some stars are shy at first about being put in Hollywood Squares,” says the source. ”They want to be secure in knowing it’s a really cool place.” Um, he’s talking about the room temperature, right?
AND SO ON… What do Aerosmith and the Disney Channel have in common? Absolutely nothing. But that isn’t stopping Steven Tyler from showing a little sweet emotion to the cabler’s tweenage comedy Lizzie McGuire come December, when he’ll appear in a Christmas episode as Kris Kringle. Tyler agreed to do the show because his young son and daughter are fans. ”When we started to think about who we’re gonna have as Santa Claus, [Tyler] just made me giggle,” says executive producer Stan Rogow, adding, ”I’m certain he can act.” Dream on.
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