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FX Eyes Series Shorts

Pasadena, Calif.— FX will create a mini-episode of gritty cop series The Shield to air on-demand and on video-broadband platforms prior to the show’s sixth-season premiere in early 2007, according to president and general manager John Landgraf.

The show, which will be dubbed The Shield 5.5, is similar to the Rescue Me 2.5 video short released in May prior to the third-season premiere of Denis Leary’s popular firefighter series. That show, which featured Leary and the show’s cast, drew 1.5 million viewers through on-demand cable and on the Internet via AOL, network executives said during their Television Critics Association session July 12.

It’s unclear whether The Shield’s full cast will appear in the short video. The network ordered 10 episodes for its sixth season and 13 episodes for its seventh and final season.

KOPPEL LAUDS DISCOVERY

The Discovery Channel name opened more doors of interview subjects internationally than did the name ABC News, journalist Ted Koppel told television critics here during the Discovery presentation on July 12.

Speaking via satellite from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, where he’s working on his Discovery series, Koppel said that in the Middle East, people didn’t see ABC News. “But you say, 'Discovery,’ and they light right up. There’s a whole world of goodwill out there for Discovery.”

Koppel lavished praise on the network when he was asked what it is like doing important news on a “smaller platform” than ABC. He noted that his reporting could reach millions of people internationally through Discovery’s more than 160 affiliates.

He said he hopes the channel’s international cachet will help him and his crew to get into Iran in the fall so that he can report on that nation’s growing nuclear program and its distrust of America.

E! TOUTS 'THE VINE’

E! Entertainment Television’s seven-month-old “The Vine” broadband-video player is now generating 1 million streams per month — one of several announcements unveiled June 11 at a TCA presentation.

CEO Ted Harbert added that The Vine — which currently offers hundreds of video clips from the linear network’s original series — will unveil a slate of original series of its own later this summer.

As for the linear channel, E! later this year will debut Starveillance, a claymation series that will feature re-enactments of real or possible events between celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s first date, according to Harbert. “One of our priorities at E! is to add more comedy to our schedule,” he said. “We’ve done well with The Soup, and we think Starveillance is next.”

The network also renewed the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie starrer The Simple Life for a fifth season.

Style sister network reached a multitiered programming and marketing partnership with singer and actress Beyoncé revolving around the performer’s clothing line, House of Dereon. As part of the agreement, Style will premiere later this year an exclusive behind-the-scenes chronicle of the apparel line.

WEATHER WARMS UP

First, The Weather Channel warned us about impending natural disasters. Now, it wants to educate us on global warming. The network will launch a multiplatform content initiative under the umbrella term Climate Watch to delve into the issue, TWC Cos. president Debra Wilson said at the network’s TCA presentation July 11.

TWC also will debut The Climate Code with Dr. Heidi Cullen, a weekly series premiering in October that will explore the issues surrounding the earth’s warming.

The show comes on the heels of the network’s weekly series, It Could Happen Tomorrow, which examines the impact of potential weather disasters in major metropolitan areas.