Inside Moves

NBC ‘Will’ figures won’t fly

Monday’s premiere of ”Will & Grace” beat ”Ally McBeal?” Well, not exactly, though that’s the impression the untrained eye might take from an NBC press release Tuesday.

Though the Peacock web missive declared ” ‘Will & Grace’ Debut Tops Premiere of ‘Ally McBeal’ by 30 Percent,” that night’s episode of ”Ally” actually topped ”Will” by 2 shares in the Monday 9:30-10 p.m. overnights on which the NBC release was based (11.0 rating, 15 share vs. 9.2/13). ”Ally” also beat ”Will” by 4 shares in national adults 18-49 results issued by Nielsen later that day (7.5/17 vs. 5.9/13).

But in fact, the NBC release was comparing the 1998 premiere of ”Will” to the 1997 premiere of ”Ally,” or rather, it was attempting to, but mistakenly used numbers from ”Ally’s” premiere-week episode last year, which was actually the show’s third telecast.

If NBC had used the actual ”Ally” premiere of two weeks earlier, the improvement by ”Will” would have been a mere 1 percent. A Fox spokesman, not charmed by the NBC release, also notes that according to Fox’s records, the 30 percent figure is off even when using ”Ally’s” third episode: Fox gets a 24 percent gap between the ”Will” and ”Ally” year- apart numbers.

An NBC spokesman pointed out and apologized for the release’s factual error, but defended its overall thrust, saying it wanted to make a point to reporters who might have otherwise dismissed ”Will’s” promising though somewhat modest opening-week numbers, not realizing they’re comparable to where ”Ally” started.

”Ally,” in fact, debuted last year with major gains (up 38%) in what had been a tough timeslot for Fox, and then blossomed into a true hit by midseason. ”Will,” though definitely a promising newcomer, is actually down 14% from year-ago NBC results.

Some of the network’s grumbling competitors also note that it’s NBC that’s been spearheading campaigns in the past year to decrease the number of pot-shots the webs are taking at each other and to encourage the press to cover the networks with greater accuracy and fairness.

As far as those NBC rivals are concerned, the Peacock was not advancing those causes with its Monday release.

— Tom Bierbaum

Partner not dreamy over Playa deal

Apparently not all interested parties were happy with the deal announced Monday for DreamWorks to build its studio and headquarters at Playa Vista.

Robert Maguire, whose Maguire Thomas Partners was the site’s original owner and still has an equity interest in the project, sent a letter Sept. 16 through his law firm, Hennigan, Mercer & Bennett, stating that measures “including any necessary resort to litigation” will be taken if the Summary of Principal Deal Points (the legal term for Monday’s agreement) was executed.

Now that the deal seems to be going forward, a Maguire representative said “we’re exploring all of our options.”

— Bill Higgins

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