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September 06, 1998

Your cover of four network chieftains holding remote controls reminded me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned ("Change Is on the Air," by Brian Lowry, Aug. 30).

ABC Entertainment Chairman Stu Bloomberg claims that cable's recent production of "Moby Dick" would have been low-rated on his network, when in truth it would have reached a much larger audience. Discussing the viability of "Dawson's Creek," Bloomberg failed to mention that ABC is reportedly trying to clone that show with a project from its creator.

I've read a lot of articles about the decline of network television, and all I've seen the people in charge do is disperse spin control. I noticed how none of the heads of NBC, CBS or ABC even mentioned the success of "The X-Files," a show they would have never supported nor probably understood.

Someone once described insanity as "repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result." The upcoming fall season trumpets the return of "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." I rest my case.


Tujunga Canyon


What a self-congratulatory exercise Messrs. Ohlmeyer, Bloomberg, Hill and Moonves indulged in as they theorized on the present and future of television.

To blame the remote and cable alternatives for the sorry state of network television seems delusionary at best. People have abandoned network television because it has become contrived, cliched and predictable. This week's "Everybody Loves Raymond" plot is next week's "Dharma and Greg," ad nauseam.

And NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer, citing "ER," "Friends," "Frasier," "Homicide" and "Law & Order," should be ashamed to have the nerve to exclaim: "When the history of television is written, the '90s will be kind of the Golden Age of quality programs." Lucky if the '90s will be thought of as the Bronze Age. How insulting to the true Golden Age of the likes of Paddy Chayefsky and "Playhouse 90," "I Love Lucy," "Your Show of Shows" and later "All in the Family," "Mary Tyler Moore," etc.

No, what network television needs is creative executives who don't continue to give the same stars and writers millions to try and re-create their old hits and then are surprised when they fail. Sirs, the 411 is you need to hire intelligent, talented staffs with vision who develop with courage, reinvent and surprise. Then we'll come back to you. Till then, it's cable, video and the Internet.

P.S. An exciting season ahead? "L.A. Doctors," Nathan Lane as a womanizing opera singer, and Faith Ford leaving the big city and going home to find closure in her life. How novel! I'm switching to Nick at Nite!


Santa Clarita


After reading remarks of the heads of CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox that TV is and will be better than ever, I'm wondering if I'm plugged into the same planet and why my friends and library card are seeing so much action. I'm tired of those assembly-line half-hour shows with the interchangeable leads and the 7-year-olds trying to sound like Oscar Levant.



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