BC-TV-BRIEFS:ZP – entertainment, people (850 words)

Television news briefs

(EDITORS: Credit story to Zap2it.com, not Knight Ridder/Tribune or Knight Ridder Newspapers)




Tom Brokaw’s final night of duty on NBC’s “Nightly News” will be Dec. 1. The next night will begin the first telecast of Brian Williams’ full-time tenure at the anchor desk.

Last year, NBC announced that Brokaw planned to step down following the 2004 election, but at the time no official time-table was provided for the transfer of power. For an entire generation of television viewers, this will be the first network news anchor shift of their lifetime.

Brokaw, 64, has anchored “Nightly News” since 1983. According to media reports, there had been some question as to whether Brokaw would wait until early 2005 to cede his position to his long-time presumptive heir Williams.

Williams, a former CNBC anchor, has been positioned as Brokaw’s successor for nearly a decade and has frequently subbed on the news telecasts.

NBC’s “Nightly News” remains the highest rated network evening newscast, beating ABC’s “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.”


On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel is turning his lights, cameras and set over to filmmaker Quentin Tarantino for the night. The “Kill Bill” auteur will produce and direct a very special episode of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Tarantino, an Oscar winner for “Pulp Fiction,” is having a successful week. Between the successful DVD launch for “Kill Bill-Vol.1,” QT’s well-reviewed stint as an “American Idol” guest judge and the $25.6 million theatrical debut of “Kill Bill 2,” Tarantino, rarely press shy, has been ruling the publicity circuit.

It’s unclear what personal touches Tarantino will bring to “Kimmel Live,” but he’s expected to inject his signature camera angles and taste in music, even if he’s forced to tone down his love for bloody violence and blue language.

“I can’t wait,” Kimmel swears. “This could be the bloodiest talk show ever.”


University of Missouri senior Mike Hall won’t begin his gig as ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor until after he graduates in May, but it already appears that the sports network is looking for his successor. The network announced Monday that a second season of “Dream Job” is on its way, premiering in January 2005.

In its first season, ESPN’s original reality series averaged over a million viewers per week. Hall defeated 11 other finalists (and the more than 10,000 people who auditioned) for a one-year, $95,000 stint with ESPN.

“‘Dream Job’s’ success showed us that our viewers are receptive to the reality show genre when it’s done the right way,” says Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production. “The overwhelming consensus is that viewers want the chance to decide who we put on our air, and we enjoy giving it to them.”

In addition to a panel of semi-celebrity judges, “Dream Job” featured a healthy dose of fan participation via the Internet.

Stuart Scott, who hosted the show’s first season, is set to return.


A group of boxing champs and the networks that pay them are about to go toe-to-toe.

For the past several months, NBC’s Mark Burnett-produced boxing reality series “The Contender” has trumpeted its assortment of pugilistic participation, from Sylvester Stallone to George Foreman to Sugar Ray Leonard. Now, Fox is getting in on the action, partnering with high profile boxer Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions on “The Next Great Champ.”

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” says Mike Darnell, Fox’s reality programming guru. “So many unscripted series include contrived competitions where the participants “figuratively’ battle it out. But this time, the battle, and the punches are absolutely real and the winner could get a shot at a legitimate title holder.”

With a premise that sounds nearly identical to that of “The Contender,” the tentatively titled “Great Champ” will find a dozen boxing hopefuls (weighing in between 130 and 170 pounds) facing a series of challenges and training obstacles in route to a cash prize, a “possible title fight” and a contract with Golden Boy.

Along the way, they’ll receive help from one person from their real life (dubbed their “cornerman”) and sometime-singer, sometime-actor and sometime-championship boxer De La Hoya.

“We’re looking for talented, determined, courageous young boxers who want their chance at stardom,” De La Hoya says. “Once we find them, we will push them to their limits to see which ones have the heart of a champion. And, for the first time, the audience will get to see the daily sacrifices and struggles, the joy and pain in the career of a young fighter. We’ll show you how champions are made.”

With “The Contender” originally aiming for a January launch and Fox’s gift for swift turnaround on reality programming, “Great Champ” is likely to make it on air first, unless NBC accelerates production.

Auditions will be held over the next several weeks, beginning in Los Angeles and Miami this Friday.

(c) 2004, Zap2it.com.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-19-04 1559EDT

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