Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trib News Today

Tribune Picks Up HBO’s 'Entourage', 'Curb'
By Paige Albiniak - Broadcasting & Cable

Tribune Broadcasting has picked up HBO’s Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm for all of its 23 stations to premiere in fall 2010, according to Sean Compton, Tribune’s senior vice president of programming and entertainment, Scott Carlin, HBO’s president of domestic distribution and Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (WBDTD).

“I think these shows match up perfectly with some of our most successful shows, such as Two and a Half Men and Family Guy,” says Compton. “These HBO programs allow us to bring something fresh and original to the majority of our viewers, given HBO’s limited distribution.

Advertisers also will have their first chance to associate their brands with these shows.”
Curb and Entourage each will air as strips, running five days a week in late fringe. Each show will have one weekend run as well.

“Tribune stations have a long tradition of successfully programming adult sitcoms in late fringe,” said Werner. “Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage represent ‘A’ sitcoms for that audience. We are thrilled during these challenging times to have crafted an arrangement that offers stations flexibility and tremendous upside.”

Werner also points out that with the broadcast networks and TBS sticking with talk in late fringe, it makes sense for stations to counter-program with adult comedies. “Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage were produced specifically for the 10 p.m. hour on HBO. They are attuned to the late-fringe audience. For the syndicated marketplace, these shows are perfectly oriented towards independent TV stations that have run sitcoms in those time periods for decades with great success.”

Tribune has secured each show for three years in all-barter deals, with a three-minute national and four-minute local advertising split in each show.

“That’s an accommodation to the times,” says Carlin. “A few years ago, we would have gotten significant cash license fees and less barter for these shows. But the economics of the station business dictated coming up with a creative alternative to the old model. This way, Tribune gets to leverage an asset they have in excess right now, their inventory, without having to write a check. There’s tremendous upside for these guys because they can make a lot of money on the show without putting their own cash at risk.”

Meanwhile, HBO will earn $600,000-plus per episode on its sale of Entourage to MTV Network’s Spike and Comedy Central, according to sources. Entourage premieres on Spike in January 2010.

Entourage, executive produced by Doug Ellin and based very loosely on the life of movie star Mark Wahlberg, debuted on HBO in 2004, and will have 78 episodes ready to go when the show premieres in broadcast syndication. The show’s sixth season, in production now, will debut in the middle of this year.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, created by Seinfeld’s Larry David, debuted on HBO in 2000. Season seven is in production and expected to premiere on HBO this fall, making 70 episodes available by fall 2010.

As per Tribune’s contract with HBO, Tribune is not renewing HBO’s Sex and the City, and the show will leave Tribune’s air this fall. It will remain on TBS, however, which has licensed the show through 2012. After that, “I expect a very robust second cycle for that show,” says Carlin.

Broadcaster CW Weighs Giving Up Sundays

Hurt by Ad Slump and Competition From Cable, Network Moves to Put Programming in Affiliates' Hands

The CW is close to pulling the plug on its Sunday-night programming, echoing moves by other network broadcasters to trim costs as viewers defect to cable networks.

The network, a joint venture of CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc., said Tuesday that the plan would allow it to focus its "resources on Monday through Friday nights," when its viewership is heaviest. The deal would give local stations control over filling the Sunday schedule and selling ads beginning next fall.

The move is likely to be finalized within the next two weeks, said people familiar with the matter.

The CW's shift comes as broadcast networks are under increasing pressure to cut costs, with advertisers pulling back spending and viewers scattering to the nether reaches of the cable dial. General Electric Co.'s NBC, for instance, plans to replace its weekday 10 p.m. dramas with a new talk show from "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno starting in the fall -- a move NBC executives say allows them to devote more resources to developing shows for other time periods.

The CW, which targets younger women with shows like "Gossip Girl" and "America's Next Top Model," has averaged 1.8 million prime-time viewers for the season starting in September to April 26, a 25% drop from the same period last season, according to Nielsen Co. Sundays average less than half as many viewers as weekdays.

The network appears to be making progress with its target audience. On weeknights an average of 467,000 women between 18 and 34 watched through its shows' commercials within three days of airing, up 6.6% from the year-earlier period, the network says. The measure, which includes delayed viewing on digital-video recorders, is what networks and advertisers use to set prices.

Many CW affiliates have been pushing the network to surrender Sundays, where it has never had much success, say people close to affiliate groups. Last fall, it turned over the evening to independent producer Media Rights Capital, whose shows, such as "Easy Money," bombed. Since November, the network has been airing reruns and old movies in the slot.

Giving up Sundays alone won't alone make the CW profitable, according to a person close to the situation. The network lost about $57 million in 2008 and is projected to lose $69 million in 2009, according to estimates from Deana Myers, a senior analyst for media-research firm SNL Kagan.

TV stations seem happy to program Sundays locally. Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Co.'s Tribune Broadcasting, which owns 13 CW affiliates, says he expects to expand local news and add movies. Doug Gealy, president of Acme Communications Inc., which owns five CW affiliates, says he is also looking at local sports.

Write to Sam Schechner at

Courant's Top Two Editors Leaving The Newspaper
The Hartford Courant

The top two editors of The Hartford Courant, both longtime journalists at the newspaper, will leave their jobs today and be replaced by an interim editor, the newspaper's new senior vice president announced Monday.Cliff Teutsch has been the editor and Barbara T. Roessner has been managing editor since 2006.

Roessner's position was eliminated, and she was not offered another job at the paper. Teutsch said he chose to leave.Naedine Hazell, who has held several editing positions at the newspaper, most recently as the top editor of The Courant's website, will be interim editor, said Jeff Levine, senior vice president in charge of news content at The Courant and WTIC-TV, Channel 61.

Hazell, 50, will report to Levine, who began in his newly created position last week.The changes come one month after Tribune Co., which owns The Courant and WTIC-TV, replaced former publisher Stephen D. Carver with Richard Graziano, general manager of WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV, the Chicago company's two Hartford-area television stations.

Under Graziano, who oversees the newspaper and TV stations, The Courant and WTIC-TV Fox 61 are merging into one news operation and will occupy the Broad Street building where The Courant has been located for many years.

Teutsch, 59, of Simsbury, who joined the Courant in 1980 as a reporter, called The Courant "one of the great places to do journalism" but said he no longer felt the job fit him."Important work demands to be done here by an editor who is in synch with those above him," Teutsch said in a memo to the staff. "My best assessment is I'm not that editor ... leaving now is my call."

Roessner, 55, of West Hartford, has been with the newspaper since 1978."Cliff and Bobbie have been guiding forces here at The Courant for more than two decades. I have known both of them for several years and have always been impressed with their passion for quality journalism," Levine said in a memo to the staff.

Teutsch and Roessner presided over a tumultuous period in The Courant's 245-year history, including deep staff reductions and a wholesale redesign — along with work that gained national recognition. The series "Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight," showed that the military was sending unfit soldiers into combat and led to reforms in Congress and the Pentagon.

Roessner, a former columnist, said she was not leaving of her own initiative."I don't think I'm capable of leaving this place voluntarily," she wrote to the staff. "I'm so invested here on so many levels."

Roessner said in an interview that she considers the integration of the paper, the television stations and their websites "long overdue. We've lost so many people," she said of The Courant. "We've been in a long period of contraction. This is going to be a new era of expansion."Levine said there are no plans for further job cuts at The Courant, which has shed 45 percent of its news employees since the start of 2008.

The selection of a permanent editor for The Courant is "still to be worked out," Levine said."If we do not create a business model that allows us to succeed and thrive, the important work that journalists do could be in jeopardy," Levine said. "Newspapers haven't adapted well to the Internet, to the way readers use media."

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