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ABC to Give Media Buyers Scripts of Pilots for Upcoming TV Season

March 22, 2001|Bloomberg News

Walt Disney Co.'s ABC television network told media buyers it's sending them the scripts of pilot episodes for every new series that may run in the next TV season.

ABC, in what it described as an "unprecedented" move, will allow media buyers to sample new comedies and dramas that may be added to the new season, ABC Entertainment Co-Chairman Lloyd Braun said. The dramas will be sent now, and the comedies later.

ABC announced some of its 34 pilots for the new television season to advertising buyers at a promotional event on the set of the comedy improvisation show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" The presentation, which didn't show any samples from the pilots, leads into the so-called upfront market in May and June, when TV networks typically sell the bulk of their advertising time for the fall TV season.

"This year we want to put our money where our mouth is," Braun said. "I really think that when you read this material, it really lives up to the potential that you've heard about today."

The fact that they are sending the scripts to media buyers indicates ABC is confident of the new shows, said Tim Spengler, director of national buying at Initiative Media.

"The script is more important than the cast," Spengler said. "I think it was just demonstrating how comfortable they are with the development."

Some of the highlights of ABC's presentation were a new comedy called "Bob Patterson" that features "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander as a motivational speaker, a new Supreme Court drama called "The Court" with longtime film and TV actress Sally Field and a new legal drama called "Philly" starring Kim Delaney of "NYPD Blue."

Among so-called reality shows, ABC said it would premiere its new show "The Runner," created by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, on Labor Day. The show will follow a man who has 28 days to cross the U.S. without being caught. He will win $1 million if he succeeds. Over the course of the run, the bounty for his capture by viewers will rise.

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