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Comings and Goings
August 4

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with the big news that Ben Silverman left NBC on July 27th as Co-Chairman of the NBC Entertainment Division. He was replaced by Jeff Gaspin, the head of NBC's Cable Division. Gaspin is expanding his reach to NBC/Universal Media Studios, according to a Broadcasting & Cable Report.

Silverman left to start a new company with Barry Diller's IAC, effectively returning to his entrepreneurial roots to launch a company like his former shop, Reveille, which he sold when he joined NBCU. The company's television assets are being restructured under Gaspin, who has been named chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment, effective immediately.

NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker tried to put a positive spin on things. “Ben came to me with this opportunity that was incredibly exciting for him,” he said. “That made sense for him now, and on the other hand I’ve been thinking a lot about how we should best be organized at NBC Universal. I thought it made most sense to put everything under one roof, much the way Disney is organized, and that’s why Jeff Gaspin made sense [for this role].”

Gaspin acknowledged the challenges, for broadcasting in general and NBC in particular, during an interview the day he was promoted. "You've got a secular issue for broadcasting; it's definitely a challenged business," he said. "NBC certainly is challenged, being in fourth place, and we need to make progress. But there is still a tremendous amount of value in every one of the broadcasters, and I have to help the NBC team unlock that value."

Silverman was the young gun in Hollywood, founding Reveille Studios in 2002. You may know him as the exec producer of The Biggest Loser, Nashville Star, and Blow Out among others. But I do not believe that Silverman left totally on his own accord, I think that he was "gently shoved".

Why? Because, while NBC's Reality slate of "America's Got Talent" and "The Biggest Loser" have been successes, you have had failures like "The Great American Road Trip", "I'm A Celebrity...". And while 30 Rock is a critical success, it is not a ratings one. Under Silverman, there was not one scripted drama or comedy that was a ratings success. Anyone remember the terrible remakes of Bionic Woman or Knight Rider? According to, you cannot find a non Law and Order or Reality NBC show in the Nielsen top 20. And the 10PM Jay Leno daily talk/entertainment show experiment which debuts in September has affiliates worried and scared, because of the potential ratings erosion leading to the local news.

Silverman's reign will be remembered for success in the reality division, but allowing scripted entertainment to fall by the wayside. The future at NBC doesn't look that good.

More details have been released about the 10th Anniversary of Millionaire 11 night run on ABC. In a press release, the show will debut August 9th (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) and will air for 11 nights, Sunday-Thursday at 8:00 p.m., with the finale on Sunday, August 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).

The 10th Anniversary edition will continue many of the strongest elements of the original show, along with some of the more recent modifications to the format that were streamlined over the show's lifespan in syndication. For example, the "Fastest Finger" element will return, and the lifelines will include perennial favorites "Ask the Audience," "Phone a Friend" and also "Double Dip" (which originated during "Super Millionaire"). Imported from the Meredith Vieira-hosted daytime version will be the new lifeline, "Ask the Expert," and substantially faster gameplay, featuring time limits on every question. Also, a celebrity will be playing one question for a shot at $50,000 for their favorite charity.

The experts announced are: ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, NPR's Mo Rocca, Wolf Blitzer from CNN, Rev. Al Sharpton, author Jodi Picoult, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Journalist, newscaster and author Gwen Ifill, Connie Chung, and Ken Jennings.

But we are also going to visit with some memorable contestants who will be in the audience to revisit with Regis and they are:

Sunday, August 9

Note: Much of the studio audience is comprised of former contestants

Robert Essig, (Bob-O), who won $1 million; Joe Trela, the third contestant to win $1 million and Ed Toutant, who won $1.86 million escalating jackpot

Monday, August 10--Robby Roseman, who was the first person to lose on the first question, winning nothing.

Tuesday, August 11--Kevin Olmstead, the show's biggest winner; won the escalating jackpot totaling $2.18 million.

Wednesday, August 12--Jason Block, one of the show's most memorable contestants; won $125,000

Sunday, August 16--John Carpenter, & dad the series' first-ever contestant to win $1 million; phoned his dad on the last question for his "Phone a Friend," just to inform him he knew the answer and was about to win $1 million.

Monday, August 17

Brian Fodera, second person to get the first question wrong, winning nothing

Tuesday, August 18

Doug Van Gundy, who won $250,000 in 1999 which, at that time, was the largest amount of money won in a single network game show appearance

Wednesday, August 19

Dan Doody, nicknamed "Doody" by Regis, he won $1,000

Sunday, August 23

Nancy Christy, first woman to win $1 million on the show.

This is going to be a fun 11 shows. Start watching August 9th.

Finally, we have a couple of quick notes on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune:

On Wheel, we have confirmation of the new "Free Play" space, which replaces the "Free Spin". According to's Carrie Grosvenor, if you land on Free Play you get to pick any letter - a consonant or a vowel. If the letter you choose is not in the puzzle, you continue on without losing your turn. If you happen to choose a vowel, the same thing applies, but it also won't cost you any money. Consonants are worth $500, vowels worth nothing.

Personally, I need to see this in execution. I am not as excited as I was when the Million Dollar Wedge was introduced last season. I will see what happens when the new season debuts.

Jeopardy just finished its 25th Season last week. Now while Wheel made a big deal out of the anniversary, Jeopardy's treatment of it was very understated. Outside of a few "Where are they now?" pieces and the introduction of a full HD Set at CES Las Vegas, it was hardly mentioned.

I understand that is the style of Jeopardy, but I thought there would be more mentions of it. Even with that, Jeopardy had another excellent season of answers and questions. I can't wait to see what the HD set looks like in Los Angeles.

Block Party Quick Hits:

--Condolences go out to the families of Alexis Cohen who auditioned for two seasons of American Idol, and David Hinkle who ran Sonalysts, Inc. who passed away this week.

--Shows are announcing premieres before the Television Critics Association Press Tour next week. Science Channel will roll out its new game show "Head Games" on October 3. "Seducing Cindy", a dating show featuring Cindy Margolis, premieres next year on Fox Reality. Travel Channel is searching for "America's Worst Driver", and G4 wants an "American Ninja Warrior."

--Kara Dioguardi IS coming back to American Idol, if reports coming out are true. Jordin Sparks campaigns for Paula Abdul. And The American Idol exhibit at Madame Tussaud's comes to Hollywood.

--Family Feud is coming to San Francisco on August 1st.

--The newest crews on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew are announced. The show premieres August 9th at 9PM.

--Deal or No Deal auditions on August 20th at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut from 1-5PM. You have to be a legal resident of the 50 US States and 18 years or older.

--The Indian version of Power of 10 gets renewed.

--Bob Barker goes to North Carolina to protest the treatment of bears by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

--Vin Scully plans to retire in 2010 from Broadcasting Dodgers games.

--Chris Harrison and Carrie Ann Inaba will be TV Guide's Red Carpet Correspondents.

--"Jessica Wild" wins an online contest to be on the next season of "RuPaul's Drag Race."

--"Launch My Line" reveals its cast. The show premieres Sept. 16th on Bravo.

--In an article in Variety, Michael Davies revealed that the new season of The Newlywed Game will be 65 episodes. He is also working on "The Million Dollar Pyramid", "The Dating Game", "Celebrity Mr. and Mrs." But the most interesting quote is this: "My No. 1 aim on this show is to celebrate 'Millionaire's' 10th anniversary," he said. "What we're not trying to do is get this back on the air as a regular series. If ABC says we should do his every August, that would be fantastic." Hmmm....

--Catch 21 gets a third season renewal. Big Saturday Night...does not.

Jason Block is going to ask that e-mails come in to