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Litefeatures NBC is slipping lower than third place; Atari zaps Peacock network rw The bie ioke in network tplpvi 1 11 these days is that NBC, the third-place network, soon may slip to fourth place behind CBS, ABC and Atari. Indeed, although the Peacock Network has improved the quality of its nighttime programming considerably this season, NBC still ranks dead last in the viewer derby. But Grant Tinker, the network's board chairman, and Brandon Tartikoff, his program chief, thus far are refraining from launching an overhaul of the NBC prime-time schedule. There are two reasons for their patience: (1) it costs a ton of money to kill programs hat still have four to six episodes remaining in the can, and NBC no longer has eash to burn; and (2) Tinker is hoping that NBC's comparatively decent program lineup eventually will start appealing to the mass audience. "Rhoda," "WKRP in Cincinnati" and "The White Shadow," among others.
Here's, a rundown of some of the outstanding behind-the-scenes talent that gives NBC the feeling that things will get better very soon: Jim Brooks, Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels Among them, they were responsible for the MTM and Newhart comedy shows, plus "Rhoda" and "Phyllis." They later created "Taxi" for ABC, and that's the project they now produce for NBC every Thursday night. Steven Bochco He wrote some of the better "Lou Grant" episodes and also produced a sharp detective series called "Paris," starring James Earl Jones. Now he's the co-creator and godfather of "Hill Street Blues." Les and Glen Charles and James Burrows After Brooks, Weinberger and Daniels launched "Taxi," the Charles brothers wrote and produced many episodes. Today this trio produces "Cheers," the elegant comedy that precedes "Taxi" each Thursday night. Gary David Goldberg He wrote a lot of scripts for "Lou Grant" and "The Bob Newhart Show." After failing to score a Nielsen hit with a respectable comedy called "The Last Resort," Goldberg now is the creator, producer and head writer of "Family Ties," which is slowly rounding into shape as a nice Wednesday night comedy series.
Bruce Paltrow and Mark Tinker For three, years these two guys nurtured "The White Shadow," the excellent light drama series about lower-income high school kids. Now they've combined to produce "St. Elsewhere," a heavier dramatic show about life and death in a tough big-city hospital. Michael Gleason and Robert Butler Glea-. son is a veteran MTM producer; Butler directed many of the original episodes of "Hill Street Blues" in 1980.
This season they're the guardian angels behind "Reming- ton Steele," the sexy little private-eye caper on Friday nights. Besides those outstanding talents, NBC has lured four more former stalwarts of the MTM program factory Hugh Wilson, creator of Max Tash, who produced nearly two years of "WKRP" segments; and Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses, who wrote and produced a couple of seasons of Newhart episodes and two years of "The Tony Randall Show." Wilson and Tash will put together a weekly comedy series called "The Wrong Man." The title character will be a fellow who, to his own astonishment, becomes our nation's vice president. koff have to count on is a lot of hope and the knowledge that NBC's stable of program producers is about as good a collection of creative talent ever collected under one roof. In fact, if you check out the personnel who are creating, producing and writing NBC's weekly nighttime programs, you'll find a tremendous number of people who rose to TV glory at MTM Productions, the outfit Tinker formerly headed, which gave us the Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart shows, Right now, however, all Tinker and Tarti- Think thin acSL An Incredible Offer From Furniture City A VI UVJ FOR. ONE FULL YEAR PURCHASE ANYTHING EV OUR STORE Prices Have Not Been Raised To Cover This Offer.
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They were thinking of it in a reverential, evangelical light here in the nation's capital recently when the Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co. unveiled the new product for an audience of more than 1,000 employees, suppliers and the press who didn't exactly go bananas with appreciation until the Tab girl, Lisa Parker, appeared on stage under the big red and white Diet Coke Sign. "I want all you loyal Tab drinkers to know, Coca-Cola's not turning their backs on Tab," said Parker, who once sashayed through a popular Tab commercial in her bikini. Tab, a one-calorie' cola, was introduced by Coke in ,1962. Why is the company bringing out a new diet cola to compete with it? Because, Coke says, the diet-soda market is expected to double in size by (1990, and is now growing three times as fast as the regular soft-drink market.
So there's room for one mete. 4nd Tab has been directed primarily to women, whereas Diet Coke will be pitcherto men and to women. The difference was also explained this waV: Tab is for the beautiful people anfl Diet Coke is for real people. What the; real beautiful people will drink is apparently up to them. Diet Coke had its first appearance in New York earlier this year (some of 4s smuggled cans of it back home in oui luggage), debuts in ten U.S.
markets this month, and by the end of next year will be everywhere, assuming of course that supermarkets can find space for it on their already over-crqwded shelves. Americans will learn of the new taste sensation throught a powerful advertising campaign, and, surprise surprise, television has been selected as the primary medium for that. Diet Coke makes its debut in each market witji a pair of spectacular spots for whjch production costs reportedly totaled $1.5 million, which is more than enough to produce an entire one-hour television show. The spots, called "Premiere," were shot, in part, at Radio City Music Hall, where the famous Rockettes are seen dancing around a gigantic Diet Coke can, in a ceremony that is going to remind some people of a Busby Berkeley movie and others of a pagan priapic rite. A chorus sings, "Introducing Diet Coke! You're gonna drink it, just for the taste of it Intercut with this extravaganza are views of hired celebrities seated in the audience.
They burble over with enthusiasm and gurgle down plenty of Diet Coke as part of the frenzy. The celebrities include Susan Anton, Telly Savalas and, rising from his seat to blow a kiss toward the stage, Bob Hope, who certainly does not need the money. In an eight-week period that starts Monday, a Coke spokesman said, 91 percent of all households in this area will be exposed to the Diet Coke commercial an average of 29 times. The Diet Coke campaign isn't just another advertising wingding. Coca Cola is very serious, and a little nervous, about the whole thing, because this is the first time in 96 years that the! trademarks "Coke" and "Coca-Cola'' have been extended to a product: other The Real Thing itself.
James J. Harford, president of the mid-Atlantic franchise, referred to Coke's trademark as its treasured family name. Thus, he told the Washington crowd, "We've gathered here tonight to launch the most significant new product; in the history of the Coca-Cola company and in the history of this industry." And Michael W. McNally, vice president for marketing of Coca-Cola, said the Diet Coke campaign is part of a three-pronged cola brand assault on the market of the '80s. As if this weren't enough of a media event, the crowd was shown examples of how New York TV stations covered New York media event held in honor of Diet Coke.
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