By ED BARK
TV news isn't what it used to be. But then you probably already knew that.
Still, ABC News' just-announced roster of summertime fun fare might give pause even to Geraldo Rivera. All in all, it seems about as substantive as cotton candy washed down by a sno-cone.
The featured attraction is i-CAUGHT, anchored by Good Morning America weekend guy Bill Weir. Premiering on Aug. 6th, the six-episode newsmagazine series aims to "dissect the avalanche of video images, now generated by cell phones, webcams, surveillance cams, downloads and uploads."
ABC will have an i-CAUGHT website tie-in that encourages viewers to submit their own video for possible use on the program. Sounds like the network's America's Funniest Home Videos, except this time there'll be some sobering convenience store robberies caught on tape.
Another six-part news series, Primetime: Family Secrets, precedes i-CAUGHT to the air on June 26th. This one "goes behind closed doors and sees first-hand the secrets most families would never talk about." Except that this is America, where just about everyone seems to want to be on the teevee.
Scandals include a "real-life wild child" who was locked in an Austin, TX home for eight years and yet another up-close look at Hollywood's Baldwin brothers. "Black sheep" Daniel Baldwin provides a special treat by inviting ABC News inside his rehab program.
There's also Six Degrees of Martina McBride, a July 30 news special that traipses after "six singers from the middle of nowhere with nothing but their dreams." Their objective is track down McBride in six steps or less to re-prove the old Kevin Bacon theory that we're all connected in some way to a chain of a half-dozen humanoids. Eventually one of the six gets a record deal. Remember now, this is from ABC News.
NASCAR in Primetime also is coming to ABC News -- on Aug. 8th. Over the course of a five-part series, the network gets "uncensored access" to top drivers such as Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin
And oh yeah, Elvis Presley is exhumed again, too, in the two-hour high-def TV event Elvis: Viva Las Vegas. Coming Sept. 12th, it depicts how The King re-invented Vegas while it simultaneously re-invented him. Current recording stars yet to be named chip in to sing some of Presley's Vegas classics, with the inevitable "never-before-seen" Elvis footage also folded in.
And that's the way it is.
By ED BARK
***Showtime has signed half of the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate, as a regular on its third season of Weeds.
She'll play a character named Tara in 10 of the upcoming 15 new episodes. Tara, slated to be a love interest of Silas (Hunter Parrish), otherwise lives in a newly developed "mega-church community" called Majestic. Weeds, generating ample buzz on- and off-camera, returns on Aug. 13th.
***Comedy Central's latest celebrity roast will be of rapper/womanizer Flavor Flav, star of VH-1's most popular series, Flavor of Love. They'll tape the thing in July for airing on Aug. 12th. Previous roastees have included William Shatner, Pamela Anderson, Chevy Chase (hardly anyone of note showed up) and Jeff Foxworthy.
***D-FW television stations mostly have ignored the Dallas mayoral debate. But finalists Tom Leppert and Ed Oakley at last will get a little face time during a live, half-hour debate airing at 8 p.m. Thursday (May 31) on CBS11, TXA21 and public television station KERA (Ch. 13). CBS11 anchor Tracy Rowlett is moderating the candidate faceoff, with a half-hour panel discussion/analysis program following at 8:30 p.m.
***Former D-FW anchor and CBS Early Show personality Rene Syler again will return to The View as a guest host on June 12. She won't have to deal with Rosie O'Donnell, though. She's leaving the show immediately, rather than on June 20th as previously announced. O'Donnell's abrupt decision to depart comes after this week's nasty verbal spat with View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. In fairness, Hasselbeck is really more the aggressor this time out. But of course O'Donnell will take most of the crap.
By ED BARK
***Fresh from two time slot-winning CBS specials last week, retiring Bob Barker will get a third when he hosts his last episode of The Price Is Right on Friday, June 15th. The farewell Price then will be repeated that same night in prime-time as a lead-in to the 34th annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Barker has two nominations, his 18th and 19th.
The 83-year-old game show legend is winding down his 50th year in television, the last 35 with Price. No one's been named to succeed him yet.
***Cost-cutting measures at NBC have cost longtime Dateline anchor Stone Phillips his job. He's already been dropped from the program after 15 years and also is being let go by the network's news division. Phillips said in a statement that he's "profoundly appreciative of the many friends and colleagues, past and present, who have been a part of the Dateline family." Ann Curry will now be the show's main anchor.
***It's getting ever-closer between Fox's American Idol and ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Tuesday's last Idol performance show of the season drew 25.2 million viewers while Dancing's results finale had 23 million viewers.
Idol had a wider victory margin among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, but ABC won the night overall in total viewers after Fox's post-Idol premiere of On the Lot plummeted to 8.5 million viewers nationally.
***CBS has announced an array of presenters for the 61st annual Tony Awards, which it will telecast on June 10th. They include Harry Connick Jr. Neil Patrick Harris, Angela Lansbury, Kevin Spacey, Usher, Felicity Huffman, Rainn Wilson, Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, John Turturro, Claire Danes, Carla Gugino, Anne Heche, Eddie Izzard, Audra McDonald, Vanessa Williams and Liev Schreiber. There's no host this year.
***Fox already has named its post-Super Bowl attraction for next year. It'll be House, starring Hugh Laurie. And CBS says that Katie Couric will moderate the final Democratic National Committee-sanctioned presidential debate on Dec. 10th from Los Angeles.
***Encore will have a Memorial Day Jaws movie marathon, beginning at 4 a.m. central with the original Steven Spielberg classic. Following in order are Jaws 2, Jaws III and Jaws: The Revenge. That cycle will keep repeating throughout the day.
Also, Encore Westerns is presenting a mega-blast of John Wayne over the holiday weekend, beginning Saturday (May 26) at 11 a.m. central with Chisum. It'll then be wall-to-wall Wayne through Tuesday, with titles including The Searchers, Texas Terror, The War Wagon, Cahill, U.S. Marshall and frequent showings of a 15-minute mini-special titled 100 Years of John Wayne.
By ED BARK
***The end to the Dallas Mavericks' season also ended up being cable television's third most-watched attraction last week.
The Mavs' May 3rd, sixth game blowout loss to Golden State attracted 4.8 million viewers nationally on TNT, trailing only HBO's The Sopranos (7.2 million) and the 9 p.m. Monday portion of USA network's WWE Raw (5 million).
Game 5, which Dallas won thanks to last-minute heroics by Dirk Nowitzki, ranked fifth with 4.2 million viewers.
***NBC has signed Mr. Magnum, P.I., Tom Selleck, to join the cast of Las Vegas next season. He'll play the yet to be named "charismatic, self-made billionaire" owner of the Montecito Resort & Casino. There's also an "air of mystery" about him, says the Peacock.
James Caan, who played the casino's previous owner, Ed Deline, will help set these events in motion with an appearance in next season's premiere episode. Caan otherwise is leaving the series after four years.
***Fox hopes to have a long-playing American Idol spinoff with The Search For the Next Great American Band, set to premiere sometime next season. It's from Idol creator Simon Fuller, who will deploy the show's weekly vote-off format to find "the next American band sensation that will take the nation by storm." For more info, go here.
***Replays of the 2007 Quarterback Bowl charity event, starring former Dallas Cowboys players and personalities from Dallas' KTCK radio (1310 AM, "The Ticket") can be seen anytime via Time Warner cable's digital On Demand channel. Select METRO SPORTS and then QB BOWL.
***NBC's Saturday Night Live wraps its 32nd season this weekend and next with guest hosts Molly Shannon (May 12) and Zach Braff (May 19). Respective musical guests are Linkin Park and Maroon 5.
***Even the very mighty aren't immune. HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht has resigned after being arrested on charges he assaulted his girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot.
Albrecht, a recovering alcoholic, said in an email to his HBO colleagues that he had been sober for 13 years but recently lapsed. His resignation came shortly after The Los Angeles Times reported that in 1991 HBO paid a settlement of at least $400,000 to a former employee who had accused Albrecht of choking her on the job.
In a statement from HBO's parent company, Time Warner, Albrecht said he stepped down "for the benefit of my Home Box Office colleagues, recognizing that I cannot allow my personal circumstances to distract them from the business."
By ED BARK
Three CBS series -- Shark, The Amazing Race and Cold Case -- already have had their season finales, but most shows are still winding down. Here's a chronological list of what to look for as the 2006-'07 TV season prepares to be history. Note: All shows for now are season finales unless otherwise indicated.
Mon., May 7 -- The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) and Girlfriends (The CW)
Tues., May 8 -- The Unit (CBS)
Wed., May 9 -- Jericho (CBS)
Thurs., May 10 -- Without a Trace (CBS), My Name Is Earl (NBC)
Fri., May 11 -- Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home (CBS)
Sun., May 13 -- Survivor: Fiji (CBS), 7th Heaven (series finale on CW)
Mon., May 14 -- How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, CSI: Miami and the series finale of King of Queens, all on CBS. Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us, The Game (CW)
Tues., May 15 -- Gilmore Girls (series finale on CW)
Wed., May 16 -- Criminal Minds, CSI: NY (CBS); Medium, Crossing Jordan (NBC); Bones (Fox); America's Next Top Model (CW)
Thurs., May 17 -- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office, Scrubs, ER (NBC); Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Smallville, Supernatural (CW)
Fri., May 18 -- Numb3rs (CBS)
Sun., May 20 -- The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad (Fox); Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)
Mon., May 21 -- 24 (Fox); Heroes (NBC); The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman (ABC)
Tues., May 22 -- NCIS (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU (NBC); Dancing with the Stars, Boston Legal (ABC); Veronica Mars (CW)
Wed., May 23 -- American Idol (Fox); Lost (ABC)
Tues., May 29 -- House (Fox)
By ED BARK
***Gilmore Girls soon will be The Goodbye Girls.
CW is dropping the seven-year-old series, which will have its finale on May 15. The fast-bantering dramedy, starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as mother-daughter Lorelei and Rory Gilmore, premiered on the now defunct WB network in fall 2000.
A joint statement from CW and Warner Bros. Television termed a "sad moment for everyone . . . This series helped define a network and created a fantastic, storybook world featuring some of television's most memorable, lovable characters."
Its creator, wisecracking Amy Sherman-Palladino, left the show under some duress at the end of last season. Gilmore Girls' supporting cast included Milo Ventimiglia and Jared Padalecki, who respectively have matriculated to NBC's Heroes and CW's Supernatural, another carryover from the WB network.
***CBS News again will fete its oldest living legend in That's the Way It Is -- Celebrating Cronkite at 90. That would be Walter Cronkite, who's been away from the CBS Evening News anchor desk since March of 1981. The one-hour special is set for Friday, May 18.
A CBS release says that Dan Rather will be included among those saluting "The Cronk," who didn't really salute him when he left the Evening News under pressure in March 2005.
Other big news names involved in the tribute include Mike Wallace, Ted Koppel, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Brian Williams, Charles Gibson and Katie Couric, latest occupant of the CBS "Chair." Some of Cronkite's show biz friends also will extoll him. Namely George Clooney, Spike Lee, Robin Williams and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
***Justin Timberlake's first solo concert for HBO will air on Sept. 3. And beginning May 24, NBC will be burning off this season's remaining new episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. That's the night after the end of the May "sweeps" ratings period.
By that time, NBC and its broadcast rivals will have announced their new fall schedules. Studio 60, getting the Thursday, 9 p.m. (central) slot, is an extreme longshot to make the cut.