TV or Not TV. . . .
THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: The November sweeps end Wednesday, and NBC wins again
but the most astonishing performance comes from "Cheers" and its amazing endurance in its eighth season. The stratospheric ratings for "Cheers" in its new NBC episodes are unaffected by rerun saturation such as KTLA's 11 p.m. repeats of the sitcom seven nights a week. That's right--every night, or hadn't you noticed?
VERDICT: The question about CBS' "The Famous Teddy Z"--set in a Hollywood talent agency--was whether they'd buy it in Peoria. Hollywood loved it. Peoria didn't. Actually, there's probably not a lot of identification with it in Bakersfield or Riverside, either. So much for the wisdom of the Bel-Air circuit.
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: With NBC transferring "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" and its re-enactments from the news division to the entertainment department after tonight's broadcast, ABC is boasting that it would never put on such journalistic flimflam. The network has a better idea--carefully labeled news fiction, you could call it. On Dec. 7, ABC airs "The Blue X Conspiracy," with real-life U.S. and Soviet government officials taking part in a crisis game--set in 1991--of what might happen if an American President were hit "with an incapacitating poison gas." Just call it pre-enactment.
FAREWELL TOUR: Those romantic potboilers that CBS has a penchant for are probably in for a long, long rest after last week's production of "Till We Meet Again." They seem somehow quaint and outdated in an era when Farrah Fawcett is socking it home in "Small Sacrifices."
THE HOWLING: Nobody ever said NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff wasn't funny. Proof: He's scheduled "The Goddess of Love," 1988's camp classic with Vanna White as Venus reborn, for a rerun New Year's Eve. Talk about turning a sow's ear into a silk purse. This could become a New Year's Eve tradition, a kind of TV "Rocky Horror Show" to go with the champagne and "Auld Lang Syne." Perfect. But what a way to end the '80s.
SCROOGED: CBS has issued a warning that it's going to rerun "A Very Brady Christmas" on Dec. 22.
TRIBUTE: But what a fine idea for CBS, in this year of Lucille Ball's death, to schedule her 1956 "I Love Lucy" Christmas show for Dec. 18. The network says it hasn't been seen in 33 years. Explains CBS Entertainment President Kim LeMasters: "Because it contained flashback sequences from earlier 'I Love Lucy' episodes, it was not included in the 'Lucy' syndication package." In any case, a must-see for couch potatoes.
FLIP SIDE: Too bad CBS isn't thinking as creatively in all areas. It's the only network not involved with cable, which is like walking the high wire without a net in these days in which a new TV world is emerging. Surely someone at CBS knows that cable now comprises about 22% of the private market value of all U.S. media assets and that broadcasting is just a hair ahead with about 23%.
FINAL CUT: Bad move by CBS in dropping film director Peter Bogdanovich's splendid video reviews and movie nostalgia from the network's "This Morning" series. The cut was made by executive producer Erik Sorenson, former news director here of last-place KCBS Channel 2. Why does it seem nonsensical that a recent local news honcho should have any say-so in the career of the director of "The Last Picture Show"?
TIPOFF: Sorenson, after dropping Bogdanovich, is bringing in KCBS' entertainment reporter, Steve Kmetko, to cover Hollywood for "This Morning." Kmetko will continue on KCBS as well. But does Sorenson's immediate tapping of his old KCBS staff give credence to insider speculation that he might also recruit KCBS anchor Jim Lampley and/or Bree Walker for the network's morning show?
ZAPPING: Best video I saw all week was Spike Jones and his City Slickers tearing into "The Sheik of Araby" on the Nostalgia Channel.
TRIAL: Couple of Emmy winners, Daniel J. Travanti ("Hill Street Blues") and William Daniels ("St. Elsewhere"), star next Monday in NBC's "Howard Beach: Making the Case for Murder," about the ugly New York racial incident. Travanti plays the prosecutor of three white teen-agers, and Daniels is their defense attorney.
PLOT: The way it's shaping up for the return of "Beauty and the Beast," the child born to Catherine (Linda Hamilton) and the man-creature Vincent (Ron Perlman) won't be seen for a while after the series comes back Dec. 12, says a CBS source. That's one way to hold and build an audience after Catherine dies and there's a funeral for her in a follow-up episode Dec. 13.
ENCORE: Isn't it about time for a new series from "Moonlighting" creator Glenn Caron? Look, that was great stuff until it went off the track. Caron once described David (Bruce Willis) and Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) like this: "He plants his feet and looks her in the eye and tells her what's what. He doesn't crack open a bottle of white wine and say, 'Let's discuss this.' She feels free to snap back at him. That's kind of fun." Indeed.
BEING THERE: "Sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you're really strangers." Mary Richards, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
Say good night, Gracie. . . .