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IN THE KNOW / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

They're Not Reruns, but Barely Run

June 15, 1998

What do "Michael Hayes," "Timecop," "Prey" and "C-16: FBI" have in common? All four drama series were introduced this season, will air original episodes this week and have already been canceled. Why do the networks trot out leftover episodes of shows that failed ratings-wise the first time out? Chalk it up to economics: When networks order programs, they pay the production company a fee for each installment. The only way to recoup even part of that expense (in network-speak, to amortize those costs) is to run the programs and garner whatever advertising they can for them. Networks occasionally televise pilots that didn't get ordered as series as well, seeking to recover some of those costs--a practice CBS once employed under the heading "CBS Summer Playhouse," which was nicknamed "Amortization Theater." While such programming is technically new, you wouldn't know it based on the record-low ratings for "Prey" and "C-16" in recent weeks. NBC, meanwhile, keeps trying to splash perfume on its reruns with a campaign reminding viewers that they probably missed episodes of even their favorite series, so the repeat showings are "New to You." Most of those programs, at least, will be back next season.

It's Her World, We Just Live in It

Are record buyers still thirsty for Brandy? Further evidence will come Wednesday, when SoundScan reports first-week sales figures for the 19-year-old singer-actress' new album, "Never Say Never," but early indications are positive. Her duet with Monica, "The Boy Is Mine," has topped the national singles chart for three weeks and sold nearly 1 million copies in advance of the album's June 9 release. The tremendous response to the single has quieted fears among some in the record industry that the star of the UPN sitcom "Moesha" might have sacrificed her pop momentum by focusing most of her attention on her acting career during the four years since the release of her 1994 debut, "Brandy," which sold 3 million copies and spawned three Top 10 singles. "It's one of the biggest singles of the year," Violet Brown, urban music buyer for the Wherehouse Records retail chain, says of "The Boy Is Mine." Brown says Brandy's profile remained high during her absence from the pop scene because of "Moesha" and her starring role in ABC-TV's successful version of "Cinderella," so fans never lost track of her. "She's remained very visible," Brown says, "and I think her fans have been patient because they knew she would come back with a strong album, and she certainly did. . . . This record should be around for a long time. Many, many singles can come off this album."

--Compiled by Times staff writers and contributors

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