This Just In


A&E Won’t Hold Up Its Off-Net 'Sopranos’ Launch

Pasadena, Calif. — While James Gandolfini’s knee injury and Home Box Office’s strategy of not putting the show up against the National Football League playoffs have pushed the final-season start date of The Sopranos back from January to at least March, the actor’s mob chieftain character will still roll out into syndication early in 2007.

A&E Network said the postponement of the series’ final eight episodes will not deter its debut of The Sopranos in January, a time frame in which the syndicated version of the series was expected to draft on the publicity for the series send-off on HBO.

A&E spokesman Michael Feeney downplayed HBO’s scheduling change, saying there were other reasons a decision was made to begin The Sopranos’ exclusive syndication run in the new year.

“January has historically been a great time to launch shows in cable,” he said.

When A&E obtained The Sopranos for $190 million — a cable record $2.5 million per episode, it gained the right to begin airing the show in the fall of 2006.

No exact date has been announced for The Sopranos’ bow on A&E, although Feeney did say it would be in early January. A&E is expected to deploy a stacked scheduling strategy, running a pair of episodes in essentially their original length, typically around an hour apiece, twice a week. To accommodate commercials, A&E is expected to devote 2.5 hours to the block.

Feeney said A&E has written advertising deals for The Sopranos with a number of advertisers, but would not identify the sponsors.

A&E will begin stripping another high-profile series acquisition, CSI: Miami, weeknights in September at 8 p.m., following a Labor Day marathon of the forensic hit.

TNT’s 'Nightmares’ Is Tops Among Adult Demos

Atlanta — Turner Network Television said the July 12 debut of its Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King ranked as ad-supported cable’s No. 1 new original scripted series debut year-to-date among adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54.

Starring William Hurt, the debut episode, “Battleground,” which was sponsored by Hyundai but aired commercial-free, delivered a 3.9 household rating and more than 5.2 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen Media Research data. TNT executives said the show reached 2.52 million adults 18 to 49 and 2.88 million adults 25 to 54, eclipsing the marks set by the July 7 debut of USA Network’s Psych with those demos (see Programming, page 72).

The second installment, “Crouch End,” featuring Eion Bailey and Claire Forlani, followed and drew 4.8 million viewers.

Media Center Launches Ad-Distribution Network

Denver — Comcast Media Center was scheduled to launch an Ad Distribution Network today (July 17), designed to allow cable programmers to quickly distribute promotional spots to cable affiliates.

The ADN portal, which will be on display at the Media Center’s exhibit at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Boston this week, allows cable networks to publish and refresh their taggable cross-channel spots that cable operators run on local systems.

Lifetime, Griffin Think Up 'Project’ for Brit Clairvoyant

Pasadena, Calif. — Lifetime Television is enlisting Merv Griffin Entertainment to produce a series around English clairvoyant Lisa Williams that is slated to debut this fall.

The Lisa Williams Project (its working title) will delve into bringing messages from loved ones, answering questions and offering insights through encounters with everyday Americans.

The women’s network also announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that Lara Flynn Boyle will star in the original movie, The House Next Door, which tells the tale of a woman drawn to a home filled with a unique sort of evil. The film is slated to premiere this fall.

Also on the movie docket: Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, based on the memoir of the same name by breast cancer survivor and Lifetime director of corporate communications Geralyn Lucas. It will bow during National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October and star Sarah Chalke.

Meanwhile, executives announced that sister service Lifetime Movie Network will premiere its first original film, paranormal thriller Past Tense, starring Paula Trickey (The O.C.) on Aug. 12. LMN’s film showcase will also play home to Inspector Mom, starring Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) as a mystery-solving suburban soccer mom.