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April 15, 2000

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The End of I've Heard That Song!

       Whew! And I'm not talking about a revival of Tom Kennedy's old show.
       Where on earth do I start? I'm on spring break now and I anticipate the full week will be required to restore my mental faculties. How does one talk about ending a show which has been a pride and joy for four years, as I've Heard That Song! has been for me?
       Thursday night, we gave away our final $1,000 to a college student who genuinely needs the money. He easily collides with light fixtures, dumps in dunks and hangs on the rim and has a girl friend who nags him to dress neater.
       The idea for I've Heard That Song! germinated around a swimming pool in the summer of 1996. I always wanted to be on Name That Tune because I played so well at home. Never happened. So, I spent two hours---with the idea of developing a concept which would be a production teaching tool for my students. Eventually, the idea of a music trivia game which involved a panel (in order to involve local "celebrities") and two players.
       We knew our budget would be lower but First American National Bank, one of our great boosters, agreed to finance our first six shows. They stayed with us the entire four years and, ultimately, eight other underwriters came on board. My students assisted in selling the show as projects in their fall Broadcast Sales and Management class.
       Over the four years, 65 students have been on the production staff of the show. Four are now directors professionally in television, one at CNN. Eleven are now either producers, reporters, or videographers in television stations. Three are with production houses around the Southeast. More than 30 are still in school. The rest are in other areas of mass media. Our current director, Brent Green, was hired to direct the morning news at our local ABC affiliate a full year before graduation.
       That has been the genuine joy. Seeing young people challenge themselves and master talents which we all hope will serve them well as professionals. Public television picked us up in our second season and we've enjoyed a wonderful relationship.
       Many in our audience and in our community are now asking why we're ending the show after four years and 88 episodes. Dogged if I know. We're moving into a new facility on our campus in January and I'm told we'll be in too much chaos to tape in the fall. I'll let you know in the fall whether we were.
       For now, it's been a great run and a chance to do something a bit unorthodox for a university campus. We eventually hope to be back in something, unless it's a revival of You're in the Picture.
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       Paranoia is, to say the least, the most expensive and elaborate quiz show ever mounted for cable television.
       Casual viewers who like their games extremely simple, a la Millionaire, won't like it. However, the virtual set, the high-tech monitor wall and the extensive computerization will delight the kids, teens and young adults.
       The most impressive element to me is the interactive participation at home. I played along on the computer and the real-time synchronization with the show clearly amazes me. I've had a few reports from people of glitches where some answers on the computer were not correctly awarded; however, consider the nature of this show and you have to figure these are going to be problems eventually solved.
       The biggest glitch, of course, was when the studio computers flashed first contestant Bart Broadnax as going for $80,000, when the pot should have been $72,500. The producers did the right thing by awarding Bart $80K.
       That's where I see this show's biggest peril: going live every night. At one point, an attempt to go to the telephones failed. The incorrect purse on the computer was another. That's one reason WWTBAM and Twenty-One shied away from live telecasts.
       Peter Tomarken is back like an old friend . One couldn't help but be amused when he was headed for a break and said, "Stay tuned for more of Paranoia on Game Show....uh...."
       Older viewers will find this show too complex and too busy. However, I think it has the potential to be the top-rated show on Fox Family. The biggest drawback: airing at 4 o'clock on the West Coast.
       However, tell me....is it just me, or does anyone else have the feeling this is a farm system test run for big Fox? Hmmmmmmm?
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       Twenty-One will not air on May 1 or May 15, so the final episode left in the can will not air until either May 8 or May 22. If you want to express yourself on the show's potential future, send an e-mail to programming@nbc.com. Variety seems to think the show will now return but a lot of people who work on the series are still on pins and needles about its status....The $1,064,000 Question is not on CBS' May sweeps schedule, so some believe if the pilot goes well with Greg Gumbel, the game will get a summer berth....Here is the schedule for the Celebrity Millionaire and Championship Millionaire: the celebs will go May 1-4, the championship playoff will be May 21, 22 and 24 with selected top winners getting one more run at Regis. However, only the three millionaires could potentially top David Legler's record of $1.765 million....I need spotters who can help me monitor winnings next Friday night on Greed and Paranoia and the following weekend for the same two shows and the Sunday Millionaire. Please e-mail our address if you can help. This is primarily to keep our top winners' list up to date. I will need names and amounts. On Greed, if you have a closed-captioned TV, turning the CC on helps get correct names when the announcer is difficult to hear....Paranoia will be in a category of non-network series but we again will limit the list to winners of $200,000 in cash or more.

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