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TV Notes: 2/26/03

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

'Donahue' canceled

MSNBC fired Phil Donahue on Tuesday, ending the veteran talk show host's return to television after six months of poor ratings.

Donahue's final show will be Friday night. The news show that precedes him on the air, "Countdown: Iraq," will be temporarily expanded to two hours to replace him.

MSNBC hoped "Donahue" would provide a liberal counterweight to Fox News Channel's competing "The O'Reilly Factor," but the ratings started poorly and didn't improve.

MSNBC tried to tweak the show in November, putting Donahue in front of a live audience in New York instead of in a New Jersey studio, but it made little difference.

During this month, a "sweeps" month in which ratings are used to set advertising rates, "Donahue" averaged 446,000 viewers. O'Reilly drew 2.7 million viewers, up 28 percent from February 2002 (a CNN talk show hosted by Connie Chung averaged 985,000 viewers this month). (David Bauder,Associated Press)

Casting coups

Jared Padalecki, who plays Dean on The WB's "Gilmore Girls," has been cast as the lead in the same network's "Young MacGyver" pilot, which will be considered for the fall schedule. If picked up, Dean will have to say goodbye to the "Girls."

And scratch the supposition that UPN may structure a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff around Faith, the vampire slayer played by Eliza Dushku. She's been cast in an untitled Fox drama about a college grad who can save lives by changing the future. (Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

PCN tours Pittsburgh

At 8 p.m. Sundays in March, the Pennsylvania Cable Network will highlight Pittsburgh landmarks.

Using suggestions from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, PCN selected several locations to be featured on "PCN Tours." Sunday PCN features the architecture of Downtown and the Benedum Center. Pittsburgh's churches take a turn in the spotlight on March 9.

The University of Pittsburgh and the Cathedral of Learning Nationality Rooms are the focus on March 16. A two-part tour of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium airs March 30 and April 6. (R.O.)

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