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Fast Track

Now the News

It ain't like it used to be, but the evening newscasts at the Big Three networks averaged 27.8 million total viewers for the 2002-03 season, down 3% from the 2001-02 season (which was up because of 9/11) but up 1% from the 2000-01 season. NBC Nightly News averaged 10.25 million viewers, up fractionally. ABC's World News Tonight averaged 9.58 million total viewers, down 2%, while The CBS Evening News was down 7% to just over 8 million.

In the morning, Good Morning America had a lot of good mornings last season. Enough, in fact, to score its best viewership numbers in a decade, according to ABC. For last season, the show averaged 4.7 million viewers, up 2%. Today at NBC still leads with 6.2 million, but the gap is closer than it has been in seven years, says ABC. CBS's Early Show came in third with 2.7 million viewers, up 5%.

It's the Business

Denis Leary will star in Rescue Me, a one-hour drama pilot about a New York City firefighter coping after 9/11, being produced for FX. Leary will also serve as executive producer, along with Peter Tolan and Jim Serpico, and Leary and Tolan created and wrote the pilot. A deal is in place for FX to pick up the show for a full order if the net elects to do so. ...

Melissa Gilbert was reelected president of the Screen Actors Guild last Tuesday, beating out Kent McCord and Gordon Drake. Gilbert won with 50% of the vote; McCord got 42%; and Drake 8%. ...

Comedy Central is importing Irish comic Graham Norton to host a new hour series. Norton has signed a two-year deal that includes a U.S. show and a standup special. He will also host four episodes of Reel Comedy, which looks at hot new comedy films. Norton's show will be a talk/variety hybrid and will be produced and aired in the same week. Comedy is ordering 13 episodes to start, slated to debut in June. …

Startup cable net SíTV has inked carriage deals with Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. SíTV, slated to launch Feb. 25, will carry English-language programming with Hispanic appeal. Under the deals, according to SíTV Co-chairman Jeff Valdez, the network is being treated as a general entertainment service, rather than placed on a Hispanic tier. ...

New Line TV
is syndicating UPN's episodes of the remake of 1960s classic The Twilight Zone. The show aired as an hour on UPN last season—and then suddenly vanished. But, according to David Spiegelman, New Line TV senior EVP, domestic TV distribution and marketing, it will be offered in syndication as 44 half-hours that can be aired as single shows or two half-hours back to back. The show is being sold on a barter basis for a 15-month window starting in June.

Media-sales firm WorldLink will handle national syndication ad sales for Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's syndicated comedy block comprising Grace Under Fire and Roseanne. WorldLink also is taking over ad sales for CWM's veteran sitcom Cosby. The two-comedy block debuts this fall in 78% of the country.

Sign Off for 'The Big Guy'

Gordon Jump, who played bemused radio-station manager Arthur Carlson on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-82), died in Los Angeles last Monday of complications brought on by pulmonary fibrosis. He was 71. In 1989, Jump began appearing as the lonely repairman in Maytag appliance commercials. He retired from the role in July.


A headline element on the cover of the Sept. 22 edition misidentified ad executive Joe Uva's company. Uva is president and CEO of OMD Worldwide, New York.