Last month, cable networks spent four days presenting their
programming highlights at the Television Critics Association winter tour in Pasadena,
Calif. Here are highlights of some of their announcements.
Comedy Central unfurled its ambitious plans for four
new series, including one that will follow its hit, South Park, on its schedule --
another politically incorrect show called The Man Show.
Comedy Central has ordered 22 episodes of the weekly
series, which takes an unapologetic look at things that men like, do and think. It debuts
June 16 at 10:30 p.m., and it is hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla.
The network's other new programs are Strangers with
Candy, a live-action narrative series; Frank Leaves for the Orient, about a guy
who decided to abandon the States to live in Japan; and game show Vs., in which
teams are tested on their knowledge of pop culture. Comedy Central has also renewed four
series: Upright Citizens Brigade, Bob and Margaret, Win Ben Stein's
Money and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.
Officials for Odyssey Channel disclosed some details
about their network's April 4 relaunch under Hallmark Entertainment and The Jim
Henson Co., which recently acquired 45 percent of the service.
Odyssey president Margaret Loesch announced that the series
Donna's Day with Donna Erickson, which is now on PBS, will join the
network's lineup in April. Erickson, a columnist and author, does a show targeted
toward mothers, which offers ideas on activities for children.
Actor Alec Baldwin will serve as "the voice" of
Odyssey, providing voice-overs to introduce different programming strands on the network.
Loesch said Odyssey wants to expand from its current
faith-and-values programming to offer fare for "today's family," which is
well beyond the definition of the traditional nuclear family.
She added that her research had found that the public is
looking for quality and compelling family entertainment, but what's on TV now is
either too young to appeal to adults or, conversely, has inappropriate language or themes
TV Land has acquired 30 crime-stopping dramas for its
lineup, and it will salute them with a 171-episode marathon that will air throughout
February, officials said. Among the show joining TV Land's roster are Dragnet,
Adam 12, Kojak, Baretta, It Takes a Thief, Ellery Queen, Get
Christie Love and Toma.
A&E Network used the TCA tour as the platform to
officially announce that CBS veteran Harry Smith will become the primary host for Biography.
Smith appeared on a panel at A&E's presentation.
A&E also highlighted its spring debuts for two projects
-- two-hour film The Scarlett Pimpernel, which will air March 7 at 9 p.m., and four
two-hour stand-alone adaptations of Horatio Hornblower,the first of which
will make its North American premiere in April.
The Scarlett Pimpernel features Richard E. Grant,
Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Shaw. Horatio Hornblower stars newcomer Ioan
The History Channel will premiere Save Our History:
The Underground Railroad -- which it bills as the real story of the railroad, rather
than the myth -- Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. Actress Alfre Woodard will host the special, which
features archival photos, slavery engravings, re-creations and slave-diary entries read by
History will also air the four-part miniseries Tales of
the FBI, a look at the tactics that the agency employed under J. Edgar Hoover to
investigate several celebrated cases, Feb. 7 through 11 at 9 p.m. as part of its
On the first day of what's commonly mistaken for the
new millennium (it's actually Jan. 1, 2001), kids from all over the world will have
rein over Nickelodeon, which will spend all 24 hours of Jan. 1, 2000, airing
children's visions of the future -- all part of a yearlong project called
"Nickellennium," according to officials.
For 24 commercial-free hours, Nick will replace its regular
lineup to air a documentary filmed around the world by filmmaker Linda Schaffer. Comments
from kids of non-English-speaking countries will be subtitled or dubbed for Nick's
U.S. audience. More than 2,000 children are expected to weigh in on topics that matter to
In addition to unveiling several new original movies, the
relaunched Fox Family Channel said it has two new primetime sitcoms coming to its
schedule. They are Big Wolf on Campus, about a high-school jock who is bitten by a
werewolf and who then must live with the consequences, and Misguided Angels, about
two rejects from heaven who have to re-earn their wings by coming back to Earth. Both
comedies are slated to debut in April.
Using state-of-the-art medical imaging and advanced filming
techniques, The Learning Channel's eight-part miniseries, Intimate
Universe: The Human Body, will tell the story of human biology from conception to
death, officials said. The miniseries -- co-produced by TLC and the British Broadcasting
Corp. -- is hosted by Dr. Robert Winston, one of Europe's most renowned fertility
experts. The first four episodes will make their North American debuts April 18 and 19
from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., with the final four premiering Aug. 1 and 2 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
FX has ordered 13 episodes each of three new original
series: Fast Food Films, a primetime series that uses clips of classic movies to do
short-form parodies; The X Show, a talk show; and The Dick and Paula Celebrity
Special,an animated weekly half-hour primetime series.
Bravo touted its first original miniseries, the
eight-hour, $20 million The Count of Monte Christo.It stars Gerard
Depardieu and premieres over four nights, from June 21 through 24. The miniseries was
filmed for four months on location in Paris, throughout France and in a 19th
century Marseilles that was re-created in Malta, with 3,500 extras required to replicate
that bustling seaport. The Count is being co-produced by TF1, Mediaset and Taurus
Films, in association with Roissy Films and Bravo.
The network also pushed its previously announced original
series with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, The Awful Truth, which premieres
Disney Channel has a handful of original movies in the
works for this year: Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, about a
13-year-old girl who has lived on a space station and is sent back to Earth; Can of
Worms, about a outcast teen who gets his wish when aliens come to Earth to help him; The
Thirteenth Year, about a boy who develops scales and can breathe underwater; Johnny
Tsunami, about a 13-year-old Hawaiian surfing sensation who is forced to move to
Vermont; Smart House, about a young computer whiz; and Genius,about
a 14-year-old genius who is sent to a new town for college.
In addition to its telefilms, Disney also has a new series
debuting in April called Z Games that will encourage kids to combine TV viewing and
online usage, officials said.
Cable News Network this year has two millennium series
on its schedule, including the 10-part documentary Celebrate the Century, which
begins May 2, and the 10-part series Millennium, which begins in October. In a
third project, CNN is partnering with corporate sibling People magazine to create
an 11-week CNN NewsStand limited series tying in with the publication's 25th
anniversary. That series will start airing March 23.