Thursday, August 10, 2000

PBS chief promises more live programming

        New PBS President Pat Mitchell, the former CNN executive, is making her mark on the Public Broadcasting Service. Her first big programming initiative will be a three-hour live election special from five cities on Nov. 1.

        Newshour with Jim Lehrer and Frontline will join forces for the first time, and work with National Public Radio on Time to Choose: A PBS/NPR Voter's Guide.

        “It's the kind of programming that you're going to be hearing more about from us. We need to be doing more of this — more live, more relevant, more vital, and more news and current affairs focus,” she says.

        PBS also will profile candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore through their friends and families on The Choice 2000 on Oct. 10.

        Moving "Masterpiece:' Masterpiece Theatre could be moved to a new night, away from the networks' Sunday movies, after PBS tests a “more viewer-friendly schedule” in seven cities in October.

        Test cities are Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, which represent 10 percent of all U.S. households.

        “Our hope is to roll out a new and improved schedule based on what we find in this pilot project as early as April,” says John F. Wilson, PBS senior vice president. “It's not a question of "if.' It's only "when.'”

        WIZF-FM news: WIZF-FM (100.9) picked up the syndicated Doug Banks Show from Dallas for morning drive this week. Mark Gunn moved to afternoon drive. Former sidekick Kym Zahn anchors morning news.

        Gray lines: WCET-TV will air two John Gray pledge specials today and Saturday, but the author will not be in the studio Saturday as promised in the station's Options guide.

        The author's two specials are: How To Get What You Want, and Want What You Have (8 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Saturday) and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (9:30 p.m. today and 5:30 p.m. Saturday).

        Enquirering Mind: This Enquirering mind wants to know: Will CBS counter-program the tape-delayed Summer Olympics by repeating Survivor?

        Australia is 15 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time, so most prime-time Olympics competition will be taped highlights at least 12 hours old. Results will be publicized through the day on radio, TV, ESPN, CNN and the Internet.

        Even NBC plans to announce results during the 7-9 a.m. Today show (which will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Sydney time).

        So will CBS repeat the blockbuster Survivor for the millions who missed episodes?

        “We're keeping our cards close to the vest right now,” a CBS spokesman says.

        Kiese-watching: Ray Romano couldn't accept the Family Television Award (8 p.m. today, Channels 12, 7) for best comedy, because the Everybody Loves Raymond cast is taping the season opener in Italy. It will air in October.


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