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TV Notes: 'Ed's' new song doesn't sit well with listeners

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Two weeks ago NBC's "Ed" returned for its second season premiere, but something was different. The previous theme song, the Foo Fighters' "Next Year," was replaced by the downbeat, dreary "Moment in the Sun" by Clem Snide.

The Internet lit up with angry posts from "Ed"-heads upset by the change, speculating on why producers would do such a thing.

Turns out, it wasn't their choice.

Squirrel Hill native Jon Beckerman, creator and executive producer of "Ed" with Rob Burnett, said they didn't want the new theme song. Paramount, which produces the series for NBC, forced the change.

"Paramount has a policy that they must own the theme songs on all of their shows, and they always had a problem with us using the Foo Fighters, which they do not own," Beckerman said. "They let it slide, basically, for the pilot and then for the first 13 episodes and then for the rest of the first season. They were always saying, 'OK, but when it comes to season No. 2, you'll have to change it to something we own.' The reason for this is, it's a potential source of income for them."

And so the time came, and Beckerman and Burnett were forced to hunt down a new song.

"We loved the old song and knew a lot of people had come to like it and associate it with the show in a positive way," Beckerman said. "A lot of people who I've talked to seem to think we did this for creative reasons, which is simply not the case, and they also seem to be under the impression we could go out and choose any song we wanted to be the theme song."

Instead, they had to listen to songs from various composers under contract with Paramount. The producers went to Clem Snide and asked the band to compose a theme song, but that didn't work. Instead, they chose a previously recorded song and a deal was worked out so Paramount got ownership of the music.

"We actually like the song, although it seems as though many people don't," Beckerman acknowledged. "I don't know if they just hate seeing a change or because they don't think it's good. That's for other people to decide. It'd be nice if people warmed up to it a little. I think it's a good band and a good song."

Other than the theme song controversy, Beckerman said, "Ed" (8 tonight, WPXI) is off to a strong start this season.

"There's a lot of variety to the story lines," he said. "In the first couple of episodes you're going to see several very different types of episodes and you're going to see most, if not all, of the main characters with full, important story lines, which was something I thought we could have done better on last year."

The sound of silence

Residents near the Squirrel Hill tunnel have probably slept better in recent weeks -- TV news helicopters have remained grounded since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, eliminating the sound of choppers hovering over commonl traffic hot spots.

Some flight restrictions were lifted yesterday, but news and traffic helicopters remain grounded in Pittsburgh and other cities.

None of the local stations owns a helicopter, contracting with other outfits for service, but WTAE and WPXI brand their choppers most conspicuously. WTAE's helicopter hasn't been up in the air since Sept. 11. WPXI's helicopter did fly again but was then grounded.

Pilot Neal Lawson said because Channel 11's helicopter operates as a charter service, it should be able to fly as a charter.

"The local FAA says I can't. The FAA in other parts of the country says it's legal," Lawson said. "That's all part of the confusion. Local outfits are interpreting things differently. There's no single definition for any of the regulations coming down from Washington. Local areas are left to decide for themselves what a new regulation might mean."

WPXI news director Jennifer Rigby said she hasn't seen "a really good explanation why we, basically, remain among the very few aircraft that are grounded.

"It has a significant impact on our ability to deliver information very quickly in breaking news situations and critical traffic situations," Rigby said. "This is a difficult community to drive around in and we cover a huge area. Our ability to get to the scene to see what's happening, to bring you the story, is hampered now."

An FAA official in New York said flying within a 20-mile radius of Pittsburgh is still closed to news helicopters.

"I understand, to a degree, why these restrictions are in place," said WTAE-TV news director Bob Longo. "There's probably a middle ground we'll eventually reach. I don't want to fight it too hard. I understand how tense things are. This is just a little thing compared to the big things going on."

Premiere date changes

Fox has pushed back the start of its Sunday night series -- "King of the Hill," "The Simpsons," "Malcolm in the Middle" and "The X-Files" -- to avoid competing with the Emmy Awards on Nov. 4. The Fox lineup will now premiere with new episodes Nov. 11.

"Futurama" will premiere, as scheduled, Dec. 9.

'Link' returns to 'Burgh

Pittsburgh game show fans have another opportunity to be named the weakest link. Producers for the new daily syndicated version of "Weakest Link" will be in town to host auditions Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Omni Hotel Pittsburgh, 530 William Penn Place.

Prospective contestants must be 18 or older. Producers say they're seeking "lively, outgoing individuals from all walks of life." Candidates will be given a general information quiz at the audition.

Anyone with further questions can call to hear about auditions in a recording at 800-390-1001.

The daily syndicated edition of "Weakest Link" will premiere Jan. 7, airing locally on KDKA-TV.

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