USA, Sci Fi, Bravo experience success
USA Network will use new segs of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” to build a Thursday beachhead, while Sci Fi Channel is readying a modern update of a Homerian classic.Announcements of these moves — along with word of a fourth-season pickup for Bravo hit “Top Chef” — will be made this weekend at the NBC Universal cable portion of the TV Critics Assn. press tour. Jeff Gaspin, the conglom’s prexy of cable and digital content, is also expected to deliver a clear message about the health of the division. Bottom line: The Peacock may be plucked, but NBC U’s cable properties continue to soar. NBC Universal will release a ratings analysis of the January-June Nielsen data showing that its three major nets — USA, Sci Fi and Bravo — contributed 67 of basic cable’s top 100 individual primetime entertainment telecasts (in total viewers). While many of those telecasts were WWE wrestling, Peacock properties also scored with shows such as “Monk,” “Burn Notice,” “The Starter Wife,” “Top Chef” and airings of the Jerry Bruckheimer pics “National Treasure” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” More impressively, NBC U cable skeins, including “The Starter Wife,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “The 4400,” made up eight of cable’s top 10 primetime entertainment series in adults 25-54 during the first half of the year. (Discovery’s “Planet Earth” drew boffo ratings but isn’t counted as a series.) More recently, all three NBC U cablers notched their best-ever second-quarter primetime demo ratings. “It’s no secret that cable has been driving a lot of the profits of this company, and we’re very proud of that,” Gaspin told Daily Variety, crediting USA/Sci Fi supremo Bonnie Hammer and Bravo topper Lauren Zalaznick for much of the success. Hoping to build on the early 2007 momentum:
- USA has slotted “Law & Order: CI” in the 10 p.m. Thursday timeslot, pitting it against NBC’s “ER” and CBS’ “Without a Trace.” Skein, which is moving from NBC to cable this fall, will start its seventh season on Oct. 4.
- Sci Fi is developing the six-hour miniseries “Going Homer,” from “Farscape” alum Ben Browder and Andrew Prowse. Taken from the Odyssey, project will revolve around a 12-year-old, Homer Ulysses Jones, who sets off on a journey from L.A. to New York in order to escape a custody battle. Homer is able to see what others can’t: Greek and Roman gods are here on earth, walking among mortals. Some gods will aid his journey, while others will seek to kill him in order to prevent him from getting home.
- Bravo has ordered a fourth season of “Top Chef” and has decided to set the next installment of the show in Chicago. Casting will take place in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco and L.A.