Sundays at 8: A fight to the finish

TURNED ON IN L.A. --Spring Preview

January 11, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

There's some bad news for fans of ABC's "Lois & Clark" and NBC's "seaQuest DSV." Although both new series are doing fairly well in ratings with young adults, one of them is probably not going to make it to the end of the year.

The reason is the two networks have locked into a counterprogramming battle and each says it will not back off by moving its show out of the head-to-head matchup at 8 p.m. Sundays.

"We're not going to blink," Don Ohlmeyer, NBC West Coast president, said over the weekend.

"That Ohlmeyer's a no-blink kind of guy. . . . But we're not going to blink either." Ted Harbert, ABC Entertainment president, said yesterday. "I guess we'll just battle to mutual destruction,"

Don't you love networkthink?

Football fallout

A feisty Ohlmeyer says he also has a message for first-place CBS: Now that it's no longer the NFL network, look out on Sunday nights.

Ohlmeyer says he thinks the loss of the football audience on Sunday afternoon could mean a 5 to 10 percent loss for CBS' blockbuster Sunday night lineup, which starts with "60 Minutes."

"I think '60 Minutes' grew over the years as the CBS audience for football grew," Ohlmeyer said.

"I mean, if you go back and look at it historically, that football lead-in helped to flow people into '60 Minutes,' and the show is now an institution.

"The institution is not going to disappear with football. But I must tell you, we're going to attack Sunday night as hard as we can attack it. . . .

"That's the strategy."

'I Witness' art

Ohlmeyer also gets the award for best quote so far on the press tour.

He was asked the following question: "Don, 'I Witness Video' is 85th in the ratings, and I don't think anybody in this room has ever said anything nice about it. What intrinsic merit is there in that program that you discern, which nobody else seems to?"

"Oh, I really kind of look at it as art," Ohlmeyer replied.

Thirtysomething for teens

The show will not air until the spring or summer on ABC, but you're going to be hearing a lot of word-of-mouth on "My So-Called Life," an hour drama from Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovits, who made "thirtysomething."

The show, which stars Claire Danes as a 15-year-old, was screened for critics yesterday and created quite a buzz. Think of it as a "thirtysomething" for teen-agers. And by the way, it co-stars Baltimore's Bess Armstrong as Claire's mom.


Late last week, Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers showed how much planning the networks put into matters of censorship.

The two were plugging their next "Hart to Hart" mystery, which airs Feb. 18 on NBC and includes a scene with the two of them in a hot tub.

They were asked what scenes they can do now that they couldn't do in the original "Hart to Hart" 10 years ago.

"I couldn't get on top of her," Wagner said. "No, I mean it. Standards and practices would not allow me to be on top of her in bed."

So how did they deal with that?

"Easy, I got on top of him," Powers said.

"There were very specific rules about him on top of me, but there was nothing at all about a woman being on top of a man. So that's what we did."

=1 And, so, are sex roles changed on television.

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