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TV Note: Networks announce midseason changes

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Television broadcast networks are planning for midseason. They announced changes to their prime-time schedules in a round of teleconferences with TV critics yesterday.

NBC will replace the canceled "Providence" with a new drama, "Mister Sterling," about a well-intentioned U.S. Senator (Josh Brolin). It premieres at 8 p.m. Jan. 10.

ABC will launch its remake of "Dragnet" at 9 p.m. Jan. 27, followed by the new drama "Miracles" at 10 p.m. "The Bachelorette" begins its run Jan. 8.

ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne said she wasn't disappointed by ratings for "The Pennsylvania Miners' Story" Sunday night, which ranked No. 3 in household ratings but performed better among younger viewers.

"It beat everybody in the only rating we count, which is 18-49," Lyne said. "It is currently the highest-rated movie on network television this season."

CBS will premiere its update of "Star Search" at 8 p.m. Jan. 9, holding the "Survivor" time slot until the next edition begins in February.

CBS president Leslie Moonves said 10 p.m. Friday is the network's biggest trouble spot. He voiced support for time-slot occupant "Robbery Homicide Division," even though it's yet to get a full-season pickup.

Fox announced that "American Idol" will return Jan. 21, airing at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The "Idol" results show will air at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday following "That '70s Show."

"The Bernie Mac Show" and "Cedric the Entertainer Presents" move to the 9 p.m. Wednesday hour. That results in "Fastlane" moving to 8 p.m. Friday, which bumps "Firefly" to hiatus, but it remains in production and has not been canceled.

Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman confirmed that Western Pennsylvania-set sitcom "The Grubbs" and midseason show "Septuplets" won't air.

"In the case of 'The Grubbs,' we didn't think the show was living up to its creative potential and we decided to cut the order back and move on," Berman said. Seven episodes were filmed and could air in the summer.

"Septuplets," about seven siblings, is dead in the water.

"We didn't like the scripts we got, ultimately, which I think is our obligation," Berman said. "We need to be able to make hard decisions early. When you have a lot of programs, you need to be discriminating, and I think we have been."

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

Channel surfing

A&E has acquired rerun rights to NBC's "Crossing Jordan." The show's first season will begin airing on A&E early next year... The finale of "Survivor: Thailand" will air from 8 to 10 p.m. Dec. 19 with a live reunion show hosted by Jeff Probst at 10 p.m. ... To coincide with the release of the new George Clooney film of the same name, Turner Classic Movies will air the original 1972 "Solaris" at 9:30 p.m. Friday. ... WQED rebroadcasts the "On Q" documentary "From Pittsburgh to Haiti: Mission of Mercy" tomorrow and Friday at 7:30 and 11:30 p.m.


More captioning

WPXI joins WTAE and KDKA in offering real-time closed captioning for its newscasts that air at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.

Traditional closed captioning runs off a newscast's script, meaning anything ad-libbed or unscripted gets left out. With real-time closed captioning, a captioner listens to the newscast and transcribes exactly what is said.


Christmas music

WWSW-FM (94.5) has gone all-Christmas, all the time.

The station has temporarily shifted from its oldies format and will play Christmas music from now through Dec. 25.

Last year, the all-Christmas music seasonal format aired on sister station WJJJ-FM (104.7). It was so successful that they decided to repeat the programming this year, says Dave Labrozzi, Clear Channel Radio regional vice president of programming for Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Wheeling.

(Adrian McCoy, for the Post-Gazette)

Musical heritage

The National Heritage Fellowship Awards Concert will air tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. on WDUQ-FM (90.5). The annual National Heritage concert took place Sept. 30 in Washington, D.C.

The fellowships honor folk and traditional artists. WDUQ recorded and produced the program. The host is WDUQ's Katherine Fink.


Harrison tribute

WYEP-FM (91.3) will mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of George Harrison with "George Harrison: An Appreciation."

Produced by KUNM in Albuquerque, the program is devoted to Harrison's music -- from the Beatles to his solo work and collaborations -- and features reflections from fans. It airs from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow.

The Harrison tribute will be followed by the "Third Coast international Audio Festival," with the winning entries in this year's Third Coast Competition for innovative audio stories. The special features "This American Life" host Ira Glass and writer Studs Terkel. It airs on WYEP from 4 to 6 p.m.


'Chanukah Lights'

NPR's "Chanukah Lights 2002" will air on WDUQ this weekend.

The annual series features readings of original stories that explore Chanukah traditions.

This year's readings include: "Chanukah in the Age of Guys and Dolls" by Mark Helprin; a memoir by Leslie Epstein about growing up in Hollywood; and Anne Roiphe's "The Demon Foiled."

"Chanukah Lights" airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and repeats Monday at 7 p.m. on WDUQ.


Opera on the radio

The new season of live ChevronTexaco Metropolitan Opera broadcasts start Dec. 7 with a performance of Beethoven's "Fidelio." The season preview airs this Saturday.

The weekly series runs through April 19 and airs locally on WQED-FM (89.3) Saturdays at 1:30 p.m.


Blanket collection

WEDO-AM (810) afternoon host Gary G. is launching his annual "Blanket Brigade." He collects donated blankets, coats, clothing and toys, which he then donates to homeless shelters. To make a donation, call 412-373-5687.


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