News Article

On The Air

''Roswell,'' ''Felicity,'' female TV execs, and Alan Ball made TV news for April 14, 2000

'Roswell' That Ends Well?
Want to persuade a network to renew a show? Try condiments. Rabid fans of Roswell have barraged The WB with bottles of Tabasco sauce (the series' alien kids can't get enough of the stuff) in an attempt to keep the freshman alive. A save-the-show campaign (via e-mail) has also been launched for Felicity. Both shows could use the help: After a rosy start, Roswell faltered because producers couldn't decide whether it was a love story or science fiction; and after a bang-up first season, Felicity lost viewers when it moved to Sunday nights. So they'll remain on the renewal bubble, unless they show promise in their new time slots (Roswell moved to 9 p.m. Mondays and Felicity to 9 p.m. Wednesdays). ''The shows are in question because of ratings,'' admits exec VP of programming Jordan Levin. ''We want to bring them back. But we also want to make a case to advertisers that these shows are growing, not declining.'' Perhaps fans should forgo Tabasco for a little Miracle-Gro.

Female Troubles
The decision by ABC TV Network prez Pat Fili-Krushel to resign and join an Internet company does more than just open up another executive slot at the Alphabet — it further decimates the ranks of high-level women in TV. CBS Entertainment prez Nancy Tellem now stands as the most powerful woman in broadcast TV, followed by Susanne Daniels, entertainment prez at The WB, but their responsibilities don't compare with Fili-Krushel's, whose turf included daytime, prime time, news, sports, marketing, and affiliates. Just a few years back, the TV landscape was more estrogen heavy: Lucie Salhany reigned as CEO of UPN, Kay Koplovitz founded and chaired USA Networks, Margaret Loesch was the vice chair at Fox Kids Worldwide, and Jamie Tarses was ABC's entertainment president. All preceded Fili-Krushel in leaving their posts, yet none were replaced by women. But Tellem expects it to get more crowded at the top shortly: ''With all of the changes in the industry, the chances are much greater that we'll see women in those ranks,'' she says. We'll see.

On the Ball
Though American Beauty's Alan Ball called his Oscar win a ''karmic payback for four hellish years in television'' (he used to write for Cybill), the scribe isn't done with TV just yet. He's penning an HBO series about a family that runs a funeral home. ''It's dark, funny, and similar in tone to American Beauty,'' says Ball, who plans to direct the pilot. ''The one note I got from HBO was, 'Could it be more f---ed up?' I thought, thank you, God.''
(Additional reporting by Jessica Shaw)

And So On...
E! True Hollywood Story is prepping a July 9 episode on the Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? fiasco.

Originally posted Apr 14, 2000 Published in issue #535 Apr 14, 2000 Order article reprints