Friday, April 05, 2002


'Remixz' bold move for Channel 9

        Not often will you read about a TV station manager saying that winning the ratings is not important.

        After all, the first business of commercial television is to sell commercials to the widest possible audience.

        But Bill Fee, WCPO-TV vice president and general manager, is expanding his alternative programming on late Saturday night with Remixz (12:05 a.m., Channel 9), following The Zone (11:35 p.m.). Both Christian music video shows are produced by Cincinnati's Victory Videos Ministries.

        While The Zone also airs on more than 200 stations nationally, Remixz is a show specifically for Cincinnati and aimed at young African-American viewers.

        HostLarry Spellman from The Zone promises “to talk about all kinds of issues — racial reconciliation, the boycott and, most important of all ... about taking personal responsibility for our actions.”

        In the premiere, he introduces himself as a former dancer with rapper Tupac Shakur. The Cincinnatian came back to the city after having been involved with gangs and drugs. He now works as a youth counselor and minister. On the show, he also plays videos by Kirk Franklin (“Lean on Me”), Gospel Gangstaz (“I Can See Clearly Now”), Mary Mary (“Shackles”), The Cross Movement (“House of Representatives”) and Trin-i-tee 5:7 (“You Can Always Call His Name”).

        Future shows will be devoted to community leaders, city officials and African-American residents talking about solutions to the city's race problems, he says.

        Remixz and The Zone will air against Saturday Night Live because 11:30 p.m. Saturday “is prime-time for the teen-age audience,” Mr. Fee says.

        “Going against SNL will keep it from winning the time period, but that's not the point,” he says. “It is my hope that the (hour) will continue to reach the 12-24-year-old audience with messages of faith, understanding, responsibility and character ... The area's youth needs a positive message.”

        Harold Hay, Victory Videos executive director, praises Channel 9 for “putting on faith-based programs” on Saturday night.

        “That's pretty bold. I don't know of any other major station doing this. They could make a lot of money with another kind of programming,” Mr. Hay says.

        Enquirering minds: Many fans of CBS' That's Life want to know: What has happened to the drama starring Heather Paige Kent, Ellen Burstyn and Paul Sorvino? It has not aired since moving from Friday to Saturday in January. Has it been canceled?

        Here's the scoop, and it's not good: Joanna Fuentes, CBS publicist for the show, can't say when or where it will return.

        “There's no official word yet on when it will be back on the schedule,” she says.

        Another bad sign: CBS cut its order from 22 to 19 episodes midway through the season.

        More bad news: That's Life won't be back at 9 p.m. Saturday, now that the NCAA basketball tournament has ended. CBS will rerun The District. CBS' lack of confidence means the show probably will be canceled in May.

        Weakest Link: Ananda Lewis, you are the weakest link. Goodbye!

        Channel 9 will replace the low-rated Ananda Lewis talk show with the syndicated Weakest Link at 10 a.m. April 22.

        No Cincinnati station picked up the syndicated show for its Jan. 7 debut, even though producers did a contestant search here last fall.

        George Gray from the Learning Channel's Junkyard Wars is the host.

        Weakest Link will air until September, when the new Wayne Brady daytime show debuts — unless the game show does big ratings. “If it does well, we'll have to make a decision in the fall about Wayne Brady,” Mr. Fee says.

        ABC's syndicated version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, to premiere this fall, has not been bought by any Cincinnati station.

        Gumbel gone: Bryant Gumbel says he's leaving The Early Show and CBS News.

        The former Today host, who launched The Early Show in November 1999, said in a statement Thursday that “after more than 17 years of hosting a morning news program, I feel it's time for me to move on and do something else with my life.”

        Mr. Gumbel, 53, signed a five-year contract with CBS in 1997.He returned to morning TV after his prime-time Public Eye news magazine was canceled.

        Channel 64 news: The trouble was not in your set. WSTR-TV (Channel 64) was scheduled to be off the air overnight for some “critical transmitter maintenance before the May sweeps begin,” says Chris White, Channel 64 program director.

        Service for viewers who receive Channel 64 over the air, or by satellite, was set to resume at 6 a.m. today.

        On the Hotseat: Attorney Ken Lawson, who filed Cincinnati's racial profiling suit, will appear on Hotseat Sunday (10 a.m., Channel 9).



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