Frank Spotnitz

Diary of a Night Stalker

July 15, 2004 Having coffee with my wife, Melissa, when my cell phone rings. It’s Mark Pedowitz, president of Touchstone Television. Reception is poor, but the words ”The Night Stalker” cut right through the static. Mark, a longtime science fiction fan, wants to know if I’d be interested in doing a new series based on the 32-year-old TV movie.

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Some stories aren't made-for-tv

It’s the biggest tabloid tale since O.J. Simpson, but so far the networks are not scrambling to make a movie about the alleged murder of two little boys by their mother, Susan V. Smith, in Union, S.C. That’s because ”ripped-from-the-headlines” TV movies of the week just aren’t drawing big audiences anymore, says industry R&D’s Tom Colbert, who tracks true-crime stories for Hollywood producers. ”The public just wants to be entertained at night,” says Colbert.

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It's about time for Tom Snyder

Now that CBS has officially named Tom Snyder heir to the post-Letterman throne — his live 12:30 a.m. show premieres in December — the question remains: How will the 20-year TV veteran fare with 20-year-olds? The results of an informal poll:

The media analyst: ”I don’t think it’s a natural flow from Letterman to Snyder. David Letterman has a much younger audience. I’m not sure [CBS] didn’t blow it.”

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Still Looking for Letterman Follow-up

He may have been David Letterman’s No. 1 pick, but it seems Tom Snyder didn’t necessarily top CBS’ list to helm the 12:30 a.m. slot following Late Show With David Letterman. Though Broadcast Group president Howard Stringer was publicly upbeat about Snyder, he says he actively considered a number of other candidates, including several women who might be able to break into the all-male late-night fraternity. One female approached by the network: acerbic actress-novelist-screenwriter Carrie Fisher, who politely declined. She felt ”her career had a different focus,” says Stringer.

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Hollywood's Weight Concerns

For celebrities, thin may be in (look at Oprah or Ricki Lake), but in Hollywood, fat is where it’s at. Among the more notable trends in moviemaking these days are films featuring characters who are calorically challenged, yet triumphant. Among those headed for the screen:

*The Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy will star in Universal’s remake of Jerry Lewis’ 1963 classic Jekyll-and-Hyde story — but this one has a a twist: ”This movie is about obesity,” says Murphy, whose character starts out at 400 pounds.

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Stars do battle long-distance

Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg have added a whole new dimension to their long-distance friendship. The director, who’s primarily based in Los Angeles, and the actor, who resides in San Francisco, are video-game rivals, competing often via electronic modem. “They play with a flight simulator and a whole raft of games,” says Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy. The director even spent the morning after the Academy Awards at his Universal Studios offices trying to outwit Williams, who, it turns out, played a role in the making of Schindler’s List.

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Leeza Gibbons gets honored in her home state

Leeza Gibbons once studied Barbra Streisand records to lose her South Carolina accent, but the Entertainment Tonight coanchor and daytime host still has Carolina on her mind. She’s returning to her home state June 4 to be inducted into a new Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame — the latest effort by the seaside resort of Myrtle Beach to emulate the entertainment-mecca success of Branson, Mo. “My parents are so excited they can’t stand it,” says Gibbons, who grew up in the town of Irmo.

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