By ED BARK
PBS' first prime-time cartoon series will star likenesses of NPR's famed Car Talk hosts, Tom and Ray Magliozzi.
They're better known as "Click and Clack," so the show will be called Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns. The title was picked from contest emissions, er, submissions, which also included Transmission Impossible (like that one better) and Ken Burns Presents Car Talk.
"We kind of liked the idea of using Ken Burns' name in the title," says Ray in PBS press materials.
"At least, that way, a lot of people would have tuned in," adds Tom.
The 10-episode series is due this summer, PBS says.
***CBS has gone ahead and ordered two more editions of Survivor, which will bring the total to 18. Speaking in perfect press release-ese, returning host Jeff Probst says, "I still get excited to get on the plane and travel to another exotic location with another group of adventure-seeking, Type A personalities."
The 16th edition, Survivor: Micronesia, premieres on Feb. 7 in the usual Thursday 7 p.m. (central) slot.
*** Cable's Spike TV will counter-program Sunday's official Super Bowl halftime show with a ham 'n' egg eating competition. Eight top-flight competitors with cast iron guts first will mainline hard-boiled eggs. Then it's on to the spiral ham. Entrants include Joey Chestnut, Tim "Eater X" Janus and Tim "Gravy" Brown. Renowned hot dog eater Kobayashi is sidelined due to a jaw injury, Spike says. What a great country we live in.
***NBC is throwing another two reality series on the prime-time grill. My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, premiering on Feb. 18th, bumps the previously announced Baby Borrowers, which supposedly will air later. Dan Cortese (Veronica's Closet) is your host.
Then comes Amne$ia, a "thrilling comedy-game show" hosted by Dennis Miller. Almost forgot, it's due on Feb. 22.
***The commercial-free Starz cable network plans to turn the Oscar-winning Crash into a weekly series. Paul Haggis, who directed the feature film, will co-produce the series along with actor Don Cheadle. No cast has been announced yet, but 13 episodes have been ordered.
Haggis has had a tough time keeping a TV series afloat, even though several of his efforts have been of high quality. They include last season's The Black Donnellys for NBC, and Due South and EZ Streets for CBS.
By ED BARK
Former NYPD Blue star Mark-Paul Gosselaar and the show's creator, Steven Bochco, are re-teaming on a new TNT legal drama.
The basic cable network has ordered 10 episodes of Raising the Bar, with Gosselaar cast as "idealistic public defender" Jerry Kellerman. Co-stars include Gloria Reuben (ER) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle).
Bochco, who also helmed NBC's longrunning L.A. Law, will be making his first venture into cable TV. An announced marital drama for HBO fizzled several years back. TNT says that Raising the Bar will premiere later this year, pending resolution of the ongoing writers' strike.
***CBS is going into prime-time again with The Price Is Right, which will join the network's Friday night lineup on Feb. 22nd for the first of six specials. Drew Carey hosts, with the incumbent new series Moonlight being eclipsed.
By ED BARK
The NBC Universal Store reports selling more than 150,000 Dwight Schrute bobbleheads modeled after the vainglorious Rainn Wilson character on The Office.
That makes it the most popular item in the eight-year history of the store. It's also prompted the show's executive producer, Greg Daniels, to quip somewhat lamely, "Yes, they are fun, but they also serve a business purpose. People who want to manage by consensus can buy six and keep them nodding all the time to whatever they say."
Dwight retails for $19. If you want to order one, go here.
***A fine group of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are gathering on the Thursday, Jan. 24, two-hour edition of Fox's Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The "pretty pom-pommers," as Fox puts it, will surprise a Cowboys fan from Sunland, CA and "help him tackle questions about elementary subjects."
Said contestant can either team with the show's five resident "whiz kids" or huddle with the Cheerleaders in search of an answer. Which leads Fox to ask, "Will the cowgirls' beauty be a distraction or do they have the smarts to prevent his contestant from fumbling?"
Fox also has provided a sample 2nd grade level question facing the contestant: "Zero degrees Celsius is equivalent to how many degrees Fahrenheit?"
That seems pretty steep. When I was a second-grader you could go to the head of the class for knowing the answer to, "What color is an egg white?"
***NBC is readying another new reality show, this one called Celebrity Circus. The Peacock says you can thrill to the sights of celebs performing "alongside avant garde professional circus troupes in a visually arresting format."
This rekindles fond memories of CBS' old Circus with the Stars specials, where you easily could separate A-listers from lesser types. On one edition, Bob Newhart got to spin plates while evangelist turned two-bit TV star Marjoe Gortner was strapped to a car hood and driven through a flaming wall. He got to wear a helmet, though. Honest.
By ED BARK
CBS has ordered a slew of strike-induced specials and series as the TV season increasingly refuses to follow the script.
Garth Brooks: Live In L.A!, premiering on Friday, Jan. 25th, stars the unretired country star in the first of five charity concerts from the Staples Center. CBS is getting a truncated one-hour special that supposedly gives viewers "unique access" to portions of the opening show.
Then on Feb. 15th, it's Celine Dion: That's Just The Woman In Me, a one-hour collection of greatest hits and cuts from her new CD "The Prayer." Taped from a Jan. 12th performance in L.A., the special also features Josh Groban.
The Eye network also has these dollops in mind for future broadcast:
Secret Talents of the Stars -- Perhaps we'll find out that Joey Lawrence can shoot an apple off of Kathy Griffin's head.
Game Show In My Head -- From Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg (Punk'd, Beauty and the Geek), it's a weekly half-hour in which contestants are required to make asses of themselves in return for "big money."
America's Top Dog -- "Big money" again is in the balance in a "dog-eat-dog" competition that tests a canine's relationship with "the person who has raised and trained it."
With shows like this, why not greenlight Oops, I Pooped My Pants? The contestant creating the biggest stink gets an all-expense paid trip to the 2009 People's Choice Awards.
***NBC has renewed its new version of American Gladiators for a second season after surprisingly muscular ratings for early episodes. Your hosts will still be Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali
By ED BARK
CBS hopes to make a big splash -- and slash -- by adding the first season of Dexter to its strike-depleted prime-time lineup.
The graphic serial killer drama, which recently ended its second season on corporate cousin Showtime, will be slotted at 9 p.m. (central) on Sundays, beginning Feb. 17th. Starring Michael C. Hall as blade-wielding Dexter Morgan, the series will be edited for broadcast television.
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler says the Golden Globe-nominated drama will "be new and original programming for most CBS viewers. It's also a great match with our existing lineup, affording us the opportunity to promote this critically decorated series in CBS's top-rated crime dramas."
Dexter's second season finale set a Showtime record with 1.2 million viewers, a paltry sum by broadcast network standards.
***Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, whose late night shows operating without writers, plan to be each other's guests this Thursday (Jan. 10).
They apparently have gotten to know and like each other in recent weeks. That's a big thaw for Kimmel, who mimicked and derided Leno while promoting the Jan. 2003 premiere of his ABC late nighter.
Leno lately has been under fire by the Writers Guild of America for writing his own monologue jokes since NBC's Tonight Show returned on Jan. 2nd after a two-month layoff caused by the strike.
Comedy Central's two late nighters, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, are scheduled to be back in business on Monday (Jan. 7), both absent their writing staffs.
***Cable's new Fox Business Network is still barely in view, even though it's been on since Oct. 15th.
The heavily promoted venture, currently available in about 30 million homes, is averaging a sub-scant 6,300 viewers on an average weekday, according to Nielsen Media Research. Its now entrenched rival, CNBC, averages 283,000 viewers at any time of the day between 4 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those amount to prime-time hours for a business news channel.
Comparatively, just about anything televised on a broadcast channel in D-FW is a ratings juggernaut compared to Fox Business Network. Programs with just a 1.0 rating are averaging 24,356 total homes in D-FW. In most cases, the number of in-home viewers watching a given program would be close to double that total.