NEW YORK — Alison Danzberger looked into her crystal ball and predicted two hits and five possibles among the 20 new network television programs to go on the air next fall.
She also thinks NBC has a chance to beat CBS and become the top-rated TV network next year.
Danzberger is vice president and director of broadcast operations at Ketchum Advertising U.S.A., and part of her job is to put together a roadshow giving the agency's clients an idea of what they can get for their ad bucks.
Television being a high-risk business, when Danzberger talks about hits, she means shows that will last the season.
The hits she nominated were ABC's "The Insiders" and "The Twilight Zone" on CBS.
" 'The Insiders' is a 'Miami Vice' type program," she said, "done by the same people who did 'Miami Vice.' The same quality is there. The problem is that the actors don't have the same physical appeal as the two in 'Miami Vice,' but they work extremely well together and I think that once people tune in, they will find it a great show. It's perfect counterprogramming to 'Stir Crazy' (CBS) and 'Highway to Heaven' (NBC).
"As for 'Twilight Zone,' the 8 o'clock time period on Friday night has been begging for new programming--something innovative. And 'Twilight Zone' is done very well--it has that blend of entertainment with something a little frightening that the old 'Twilight Zone' had."
Her nominees for marginal hits--shows that at least have the potential for lasting a full season--are "Dynasty II: The Colbys of California" (ABC), "J.G. Culver" (ABC), "Helltown" (NBC), "Amazing Stories" (NBC) and "Alfred Hitchcock" (NBC).
She said "The Colbys" was not a sure thing, even though it is a "Dynasty" spinoff.
"It also has a lot going against it," she said. "Emma Samms as Fallon is no Pamela Sue Martin . . . She doesn't have the physical appeal.
"Also it will be running opposite 'Simon & Simon,' which is very stiff competition. 'Simon & Simon' tied for sixth place last season in over-all audience. Also, 'Dynasty II' gets no benefit from a strong lead-in--that's 'The Fall Guy,' a tired show. And the lead-out won't help--'20-20.' "
The other ABC possible was "J.G. Culver."
"We were disappointed in the pilot, as was ABC," she said, "but Robert Wagner is such a big television star, and it's in a good time period on Saturday night."
The ad executive said she thought "Helltown" would flow nicely out of its lead-in, "Highway to Heaven," and make a good programming counter to "Dynasty."
She liked the combination of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" and "Alfred Hitchcock" on NBC, but said Hitchcock could hurt the Spielberg show. Audiences would get the feeling that they'd seen the Hitchcock stories before--quite correctly, if they were fans of the original "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
She shook her head over "Misfits of Science," the show about some freaky superheroes that was a pet project of NBC President Brandon Tartikoff.
"I'd love to say that it's terrific," she said, "and the concept was great, but it fell apart in execution."
Danzberger called the lineup of new shows "a little bit more disappointing than in prior years," but welcomed the inclusion of anthology programs that would bring top talent to television--actors, writers and directors who shun series television because they are unwilling to commit the time it demands.
"We also feel very strongly that NBC has a real shot at being No. 1 next year," she said. "Although CBS won this year for the sixth consecutive year, the real winner was NBC, which after being No. 3 for 10 years finally pulled itself into second place."
She pointed out that NBC had the advantage of younger programming than CBS or ABC--the oldest show NBC has on the air is the 5-year-old "Hill Street Blues."