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The Little Mermaid Live! Music/Movie Hybrid Not Happening (Now) at ABC

The Little Mermaid Live! Music/Movie Hybrid Not Happening (Now) at ABC
The seaweed is always greener… in somebody else’s budget: ABC has postponed its planned “live action/animation hybrid television experience” of The Little Mermaid due to financial constraints, USA Today reports.

The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live! was scheduled to air on Oct. 3. Per the report, it is unlikely that the project will move forward, even though production had built sets and rehearsals were about to start.

“We are postponing the Little Mermaid Live special,” an ABC spokesperson tells TVLine. “We love the idea of doing a live musical and want to make it wonderful.
See full article at TVLine.com »

'Eisner' fails to draw many viewers

'Eisner' fails to draw many viewers
WASHINGTON -- Michael Eisner's star power failed to attract a large audience in front of the camera Tuesday in the debut of his CNBC talk show. The much-touted Conversations With Michael Eisner averaged only 95,000 viewers including a mousy 39,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demographic, according to data released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. That 9 p.m. time slot must have hurt even more for the former Wonderful World of Disney host and Disney CEO, who had a fairly substantial lead-in with a repeat of comedian Howie Mandel's Deal or No Deal. At 8 p.m., Deal averaged 518,000 viewers including 245,000 in the demo. Eisner's show, which featured an interview with Marta Stewart, dropped 82% of the Deal audience on CNBC. The premiere was down 23% in viewers compared to the first quarter, 25% compared to last Tuesday and 14% compared to the same day last week (and down 47% in the demo).

ABC building new mini for 'Little House'

ABC is preparing a six-hour miniseries based on author Laura Ingalls Wilder's enduring stories of American frontier life. Sources said that Ed Friendly, producer of the 1970s Little House on the Prairie TV series who has long shepherded the film and TV rights to the Wilder books, is executive producing the ambitious project. Feature scribe Katie Ford, whose recent credits include Miss Congeniality and CBS' Lucille Ball biopic Lucy, is on board to pen the script; David Cunningham will direct, sources said. ABC declined to comment on the project Friday. It's understood that the mini will air under the Wonderful World of Disney telefilm banner, probably as a sweeps-month event.

Storyline stays at Touchstone

Storyline stays at Touchstone
Emmy-nominated producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have renewed their vows with Touchstone Television, inking a two-year, seven-figure overall deal for their company Storyline Entertainment that covers TV series and first look for musicals and family-friendly fare earmarked for ABC's Wonderful World of Disney. Following the duo's success with the Oscar-winning musical Chicago, which they executive produced, Zadan and Meron said a lot of people were wondering whether the two would continue to be deeply involved in television, developing primetime series, but the pair didn't even hesitate. "Both Craig and I love the series life," Meron said. "It's very exciting. Your voice is heard as a producer. Series is a great, great business to be in, especially when you have partners like we do at Touchstone. They're just incredible people in comedy and drama, and (president) Stephen McPherson runs a great, great company."

CBC sticks to Canadian content

CBC sticks to Canadian content
TORONTO -- The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has unveiled a fall 2003-04 TV season that relies mostly on returning Canadian series and is virtually devoid of American programming. The public broadcaster will continue to air The Simpsons at 5 p.m. on weekdays to retain young viewers, and The Wonderful World of Disney will also continue to air on Sunday nights, even though ABC will air the long-running series on Saturday nights beginning in September. The CBC was precluded from moving the Disney show to Saturday night as it airs its popular Hockey Night in Canada on that night. The CBC virtually airs no other U.S. series, after it "Canadianized" its schedule a few years ago to fulfill its mandate as a public broadcaster.

ABC has 'Hope'; WB 'Fearless'

ABC has 'Hope'; WB 'Fearless'
ABC was plotting an extensive makeover of its primetime lineup during the weekend, while the WB Network was looking at more modest changes to accommodate an eclectic batch of new series. Both networks will present their 2003-04 lineups to advertisers Tuesday in New York. On the comedy side, ABC has picked up the Faith Ford-Kelly Ripa starrer Hope and Faith, from Touchstone TV and Industry Entertainment; It's All Relative, from Paramount Network TV/Touchstone TV/Storyline Entertainment; The Big House (previously the untitled Kevin Hart project) from 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV; and the 20th TV/Brad Grey TV untitled Tom Hertz sitcom for midseason. Sources said ABC was planning to revive its TGIF family-friendly branding initiative for its Friday night lineup, with some new additions anchored by returning comedies George Lopez and Life With Bonnie. There also was talk that the Wonderful World of Disney telefilm showcase would move from the Sunday 7-9 p.m. berth, possibly to Saturday. And at long last the jury has returned on The Practice. David E. Kelley's Emmy-winning drama has been picked up for an eighth season after lengthy negotiations between the network and 20th Century Fox TV. Sources said the deal calls for the network to cut the show's license fee by at least half -- ABC had been paying an estimated $6.5 million per episode -- but the show is guaranteed a return to its old Sunday 10 p.m. time slot after suffering through a disastrous move to Monday 9 p.m. in late January. Also making the cut is the Dick Wolf remake of Dragnet, which inherited Practice's Sunday 10 p.m. slot for its debut but is now believed to be headed to a tougher neighborhood, Saturday 10 p.m.

ABC has 'Hope'; WB 'Fearless'

ABC was plotting an extensive makeover of its primetime lineup during the weekend, while the WB Network was looking at more modest changes to accommodate an eclectic batch of new series. Both networks will present their 2003-04 lineups to advertisers Tuesday in New York. On the comedy side, ABC has picked up the Faith Ford-Kelly Ripa starrer Hope and Faith, from Touchstone TV and Industry Entertainment; It's All Relative, from Paramount Network TV/Touchstone TV/Storyline Entertainment; The Big House (previously the untitled Kevin Hart project) from 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV; and the 20th TV/Brad Grey TV untitled Tom Hertz sitcom for midseason. Sources said ABC was planning to revive its TGIF family-friendly branding initiative for its Friday night lineup, with some new additions anchored by returning comedies George Lopez and Life With Bonnie. There also was talk that the Wonderful World of Disney telefilm showcase would move from the Sunday 7-9 p.m. berth, possibly to Saturday. And at long last the jury has returned on The Practice. David E. Kelley's Emmy-winning drama has been picked up for an eighth season after lengthy negotiations between the network and 20th Century Fox TV. Sources said the deal calls for the network to cut the show's license fee by at least half -- ABC had been paying an estimated $6.5 million per episode -- but the show is guaranteed a return to its old Sunday 10 p.m. time slot after suffering through a disastrous move to Monday 9 p.m. in late January. Also making the cut is the Dick Wolf remake of Dragnet, which inherited Practice's Sunday 10 p.m. slot for its debut but is now believed to be headed to a tougher neighborhood, Saturday 10 p.m.

Eisner: Magic kingdom set to embrace digital

LAS VEGAS -- In a signal that the Walt Disney Co. is prepared to work with the high-tech industry, company chairman and CEO Michael Eisner on Monday expressed a new willingness to embrace the digital delivery of movies and television shows. In a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters during the association's annual trade show here, Eisner struck a markedly different tone than he has in the past. Instead of berating the high-tech industry for using piracy as its "killer app," Eisner said the company was prepared to take a leading role in digital delivery of its products. In his speech, given after the NAB placed The Wonderful World of Disney in the Broadcast Hall of Fame, Eisner warned the entertainment industry not to succumb to a fear of digital delivery of its products. The speech signals a shift for the company, which has been seen by Washington policy-makers and the high-tech community as the entertainment industry's most strident opponent of the high-tech industry's attempts to digitally distribute movies, music, television shows and other copyrighted works. "At Disney, we are mindful of the perils of piracy, but we will not let the fear of piracy prevent us from fueling the fundamental impulse to innovate and improve our products and how they are distributed," he said. "As Walt Disney demonstrated again and again, every time a new entertainment technology has emerged, it has revealed itself to be a great source of opportunity to those who embrace it."

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