David Letterman and the crew of “The Late Show” will put the notion of New York as the “city that doesn’t sleep” when the show tapes at 4 a.m. EDT next week.

Letterman will tape his May 14 show at 4 o’clock that morning, CBS says. It will be broadcast at its regular time, 11:35 p.m. EDT, that night. Typically, Letterman tapes his Thursday and Friday shows back-to-back on Thursday evenings.

Given that he’s the father of an infant, Letterman may be a little more used to being awake in the wee hours than he has been in the past.

“Late Show” executive producer Rob Burnett has a pretty simple explanation for the sweeps stunt: “Things seem funnier when you’re really, really tired,” he says.

‘Survivor’ pioneer headed to NBC

The man who championed “Survivor” at CBS is moving to NBC, where he’ll oversee the Peacock’s prime-time development.

Ghen Maynard will become NBC’s executive vice president for prime-time development, the network says. He’ll report to entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who held a similar title before being promoted earlier this week.

“Ghen is one of the smartest TV execs in town and has a keen eye for finding and nurturing a number of breakout hits,” Reilly says. “His contributions will make our No. 1 team even stronger.”

Cronkite to speak on MTV special

In the things-you-never-thought-you’d-see category, Walter Cronkite will appear on an MTV special later this month.

The legendary newsman will provide analysis of political issues that affect employment for young adults in the special “Choose or Lose: Work It,” scheduled for 10:30 p.m. EDT May 25.

“When I speak at colleges and universities across the country, I always am impressed and challenged by my conversations with young adults. That’s why I am so pleased to be a part of this special,” the 87-year-old Cronkite says.

“Over the years MTV has made a commitment to the political process, and this special further solidifies their strong connection to the issues facing the young adult audience.”

The special, part of MTV’s ongoing “Choose or Lose” political-awareness campaign, will document the interview process of five people seeking the same entry-level management job. Host Gideon Yago will also interview a former tech-support worker who recently lost his job to outsourcing, and follow the position to its new home in India.

“With college graduation approaching and millions of young adults looking for work, we felt that it was important to put this issue in perspective for the MTV audience,” MTV News boss Dave Sirulnick says. “The presence of Walter Cronkite in the special will add gravitas and a historical perspective to this complex issue.”

Cronkite, once hailed as “the most trusted man in America,” began his career as a newspaper reporter before moving on to CBS radio and anchoring the “CBS Evening News” from 1962-81. The target MTV viewer, however, is likely not old enough to remember his nightly broadcasts; he retired from his anchor position in March 1981, a few months before MTV debuted.



SPIKE TV HAS NEWS FOR MEN

Every day in every way, Spike TV is revealing just how testosterone-lite television used to be. Reality TV, apparently, was too girly, so Spike created “The Joe Schmo Show.” Award shows are aren’t manly enough, so Spike TV has presented trophies for video games and stunts. Now, the only cable network to actively alienate women has assembled its first slate of news and documentary programs aimed specifically at men.

Keith Brown, recently an on-air correspondent for the PBS news and public affairs magazine “Now with Bill Moyers,” has developed the network’s nonfiction offerings in his capacity as vice president of news and documentaries.

Naturally, sports are at the forefront of the Spike lineup.

“Hardwood Dreams 2” is a follow-up to the 1993 documentary from Michael Tollin (“Radio”). The original doc followed basketball stars at Los Angeles’ Morningside High School and the sequel will look at those same players 10 years later. Wesley Snipes will return as narrator and Tollin/Robbins will produce.

“Glory Days” comes from veteran HBO Sports producer Dan Klein (“Rebels of Oakland: The A’s. the Raiders, the 70s”) and examines how ultracompetitive athletes live off the playing field. The BBC documentary “Testosterone Boys” focuses on amateur weightlifters and “Viva Baseball” looks at how Latin American players have changed the sport of baseball.

Spike TV is also developing “The Precinct,” a six-episode take on police officers in a notoriously dangerous precinct, and “True Dads,” an examination of the difficulties of modern fatherhood.

“These programs hit on a number of themes that men are concerned about – family duty, body image, job stress as well as dealing with life challenges,” Brown says.



“PLAY FOR A BILLION’ COMES TO ABC

ABC, already mired in a dismal fourth place season, is picking up the leftovers from its fifth place competition. The network will partner with Pepsi on a September “Play for a Billion” special.

Last September, airing on The WB, “Play for a Billion,” drew 4.3 million viewers and nobody actually won a billion dollars. ABC’s installment will air Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. EDT and Damon Wayans will replace Drew Carey as host.

Although there’s no word on whether Carey’s monkey will return for the new special, most of the ground rules appear to be the same. Once again, 200 people will take part in the final showdown for a billion dollars, with the million taking home a guaranteed million. Last year’s winner was Richard Bay, a 42 year-old high school teacher from Princeton, W.Va., who missed out on the magic billion dollars but still seemed happy enough to have become an instant pre-tax millionaire.

“We are thrilled to partner with ABC on what could be a record-breaking event,” says Dave Burwick, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Pepsi-Cola North America. “ABC’s lineup of popular comedy shows and talented stars will introduce millions of viewers to our promotion and give Pepsi drinkers the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Coke drinkers, apparently, need not apply.

ABC will tie the Pepsi promotion into its “Summer of a Billion Laughs.” During a seven week period, ABC will run a series of sweepstakes to offer seven viewers the chance to be part of that pool of 200. Thus, Coke drinkers will have to watch “My Wife and Kids” if they want to win the big bucks.

“Pepsi “Play for a Billion’ is designed to be among TV’s most eagerly anticipated events this year,” adds a hopeful Dan Longest, senior vice president, integrated marketing and promotion, at ABC.



ABC PREPARES TO BURN OFF “DREW CAREY’

The end is coming for “The Drew Carey Show.”

Some casual viewers may not have been aware that the long running comedy still existed at all. The show, a regular ratings winner for ABC in the later years of the last millennium, has been on the shelf since ABC burnt off a pile of episodes last summer to an ever-dwindling audience. The final demise of “Drew Carey” will begin this summer.

Starting June 2, ABC will air two episodes a week of “The Drew Carey Show” starting at 9 p.m. EDT. The season premiere is titled “Drew Hunts Silver Fox.”

Even if nobody’s watching, the show will burn through its 9th season at some point this summer, approaching the series finale, which was taped several weeks back.

Drawing 17 million viewers per week at its peak, ABC signed an expensive and long-term deal with the show’s producers, Warner Bros. Television, back in 2001. The show’s ratings had already begun to slide by that point, but they would get lower.

Last year, “Drew Carey” averaged fewer than 6 million viewers a week, hardly the kind of return a network wants for a show costing a reported $3 million per episode.

Carey’s improv comedy series “Whose Line is it Anyway?” also still has episodes in the can, but those may never be seen. Meanwhile, the comedian is at work on “Green Screen,” an innovative pilot for The WB, combining improvisational comedy and post-production animation.



SHOWTIME CLEARS “QUEER’ FOR SEASON FIVE

Things are so happy and gay at Showtime that it would be quite queer for the premium cable network to cancel one of its most popular dramas. In that spirit, Showtime has picked up a fifth season of the button-pushing drama “Queer as Folk.”

The latest season of “Queer as Folk” came out on April 18 and while Showtime doesn’t release ratings information, the network describes the drama as one of its highest rated shows.

“Since its premiere in 2000, “Queer as Folk’ has distinguished itself not only as a valuable signature series for Showtime, but it has significantly helped change the television landscape by portraying gay men and women as fully dimensional characters,” says Showtime Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt. “It is responsible for blazing the trail for other gay-themed programs to thrive. Its fifth season will be no less impactful, as we continue the compelling stories and relationships that have made this series so indelible.”

Based on a controversial British drama, the American “Queer” stars Michelle Clunie, Robert Gant, Thea Gill, Gale Harold, Randy Harrison, Scott Lowell, Peter Paige, Hal Sparks and Sharon Gless.

Executive-produced by Ron Cowen, Daniel Lipman and Tony Jonas, “Queer” focuses on the lives and loves of a group of gay men and women living in Pittsburgh.



(c) 2004, Zap2it.com.

Visit Zap2it.com at http://www.zap2it.com

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-05-06-04 1603EDT



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