News

'Breaking News' Finds Home: Bravo

5/05/2002 8:00 PM Eastern

Breaking News,
a dramatic series about a cable-news network that Turner Network Television commissioned and then never aired, has found a home on Bravo.

Bravo will debut the beleaguered show — starring Tim Matheson and produced by New Line Television — in July. It will kick off with two back-to-back episodes on July 17.

The network plans a big marketing campaign to promote the series.

Bravo senior vice president of programming Frances Berwick said that her network's audience is "pretty news-savvy," and Breaking News's
"meaty storylines" will appeal to its "smart viewers." The show reportedly cost $1.5 million per episode, which is pricey for cable.

"Obviously, there was a lot of money spent, and it shows on the screen," Berwick said.

The back story of Breaking News
has as much drama and intrigue as many TV series. New Line TV created Breaking News
for TNT, its AOL Time Warner Inc. sister company. It was part of a TNT initiative to push into original series, an effort spearheaded by Turner Entertainment Networks president Brad Siegel.

But last May — after Jamie Kellner moved over to Turner Broadcasting System Inc. as president, and brought in Garth Ancier as executive vice president of programming — the decision was made to shelve Breaking News.

TOO LIKE 'BULL?'

Another original dramatic series commissioned under Siegel's watch, about Wall Street hot shots, did air on TNT for one season. But like Breaking News, Bull
was cancelled last year, before a second season of episodes ran.

Breaking News
executive producer Gardner Stern said that last year, TNT never called him or told him directly why it decided not to air his series. Stern also said he left a message with Kellner's office, and never received a call back.

TNT officials last week wouldn't comment beyond the statement issued about Breaking News
last year.

"The network decided, in assessing its upcoming programming opportunities and resources, that the original series Breaking News
would no longer be a part of our upcoming schedule," TNT said a year ago.

One factor, reportedly, was that Ancier felt that both Breaking News
and Bull
were flawed in that their protagonists, journalists and investment bankers, were figures that the general public didn't sympathize with — and that newsrooms and brokerage houses didn't present opportunities for life-and-death drama.

Bull's
ratings had been a disappointment, as well.

Breaking News —
about a 24-hour news network, called "I-24" that is owned by a big conglomerate — also apparently made officials at TNT's sister channel, Cable News Network, uneasy.

Stern said CNN officials had asked to see a copy of the Breaking News
pilot.

"There was a confluence of factors: the [America Online Inc.]-Time Warner [Inc.] merger, a new regime took over, and CNN was having trouble," Stern said. "And Bull
had not gone well in the ratings. That was a workplace drama. This was a workplace drama."

But Stern said it all turned out for the best.

"The irony is after all this time and travails … Bravo's audience is probably a more appropriate one for this than TNT's," Stern said. "Bravo is known for having an intelligent audience."

MIGHT ADD NEW ONES

Depending on how Breaking News
does, Bravo might be interested in trying to produce new episodes of the show, according to Berwick. Stern said that some of the Breaking News
cast members have expressed a desire to return.
Actor Ken Olin is executive producer, and also directed some episodes.

Bravo will pair Breaking News
with another series on journalists, Dick Wolf's Deadline,
which aired on NBC before it was cancelled.
Bravo will air all 12 episodes of Deadline, seven of which have never been seen. Oliver Platt stars as a columnist who works for a New York newspaper.

Deadline
will air on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., immediately after Breaking News,
starting July 24.

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