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Networks Announce New Fall Lineups; Can `Revenge of the Sith` Live Up to Hype?

Aired May 16, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Small-screen secrets revealed.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: And counting down to "Star Wars" on the big screen. I`m Karyn Bryant.


BRYANT: "TV Secrets Revealed." It`s the start of our week-long series. Tonight, how the heck do they come up with these shows anyway?

HAMMER: Oprah`s big bash. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is there as she rolled out the red carpet to honor some legendary women you know, and some you may not.


HALLE BERRY: And when I saw the list, it just got better and better and better and better.


HAMMER: Stick around. You might learn something.

BRYANT: "Star Wars." The countdown begins -- the lines, the merchandise. But can it live up to the hype? Plus, the connection between Darth Vader and George W. Bush.

HAMMER: Chappelle`s no-show. The mystery behind his $50 million disappearing act solved. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT knows where he went and why.

BRYANT: "Everybody" says good-bye. Tonight, it`s the end of "Everybody Loves Raymond," a Brad Garrett gut-buster, and only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has it.




ROMANO: And if it happened today...



HAMMER: Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, and you`re at the top of the show.

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. You`re watching TV`s only live nightly entertainment news program.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, the secrets of the new TV season revealed. This is the week that the broadcast networks reveal what you`ll be seeing on TV this fall.

BRYANT: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be there for you every day, every step of the way. Today, NBC went first. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer is here with the inside scoop -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: We learn not only what`s out but also what`s in for the new season. It`s an annual ritual known as the up- front market, in which the networks sell commercial time ahead of the fall season. They do it by flying actors and producers into New York City to show off their best new shows.


JERRY O`CONNELL, "CROSSING JORDAN": The up-front -- for those of you at home who don`t know what it is, because I have to explain it to my mother every year -- this is basically the TV convention. It happens once a year, where all of the TV shows -- all the networks come here to meet -- so that the talent can meet the advertisers, the people who pay our bills.

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): "Crossing Jordan" actor Jerry O`Connell on what is going on in New York City this week, NBC the first of the major networks to unveil their upcoming fall line-up. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT spent the day with network executives and the stars to get the inside scoop. NBC revealed six new full-season shows: one comedy, two unscripted series and three dramas. In the comedy department, "My Name Is Earl," starring Jason Lee from the movie "Almost Famous."

(on camera): Tell me what goes through your mind, Jason, the day that you find out it`s been picked up?

JASON LEE, "MY NAME IS EARL": I`ve never experienced anything like it because I`ve only done movies, really, in the 10 years that I`ve been acting, and so it`s a whole new world for me.

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): The network is relying heavily on its "Apprentice" franchise. It`ll run two versions of the reality show, one starring Martha Stewart and the other with the Donald.


DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": Angie, you`re fired.


HAFFENREFFER: Don`t expect to hear that from Martha. She`ll have her own catchphrase, but execs are keeping mum on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has a phrase. We`re not going to reveal it just yet.

TRUMP: Well, I can only say that it`s different. It`s not, "You`re fired." I know what it is, but I don`t think it`s appropriate to say right now. But it`s a good phrase.

HAFFENREFFER: As for the dramas, NBC is adding "E-Ring" from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. It`s set in the Pentagon and stars Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper.

DENNIS HOPPER, "E-RING": It`s about the civilian oversight of the military at the Pentagon.

HAFFENREFFER: "Fathom" is the new action-adventure show starring Lake Bell from "Boston Legal".

LAKE BELL, "FATHOM": It`s sort of a mixture between sort of "Close Encounters" and "The Abyss." It`s about extraterrestrial creatures at the bottom of the ocean.

HAFFENREFFER: Also keep an eye out for "Inconceivable," set in a fertility clinic.

NBC faces its most challenging primetime season in two decades. The network has slipped from number one to number four in the ratings this season, its first without "Friends." Still, network bigwigs are keeping positive.

JEFF ZUCKER, PRESIDENT, NBC: I think that right now, the networks are so closely bunched that one show could mean the difference for anybody. Whether anybody has that one show, they probably don`t know here today.

HAFFENREFFER: Singer Amy Grant has been hired to front the unscripted series "Three Wishes," which helps people realize long-held dreams.

(on camera): Kind of nervous about a new show launch and all that, especially coming from a totally different career?

AMY GRANT, "THREE WISHES": I`m a little nervous because I kind of feel like somebody`s thrown the football and yelled to me, Go long! And I`m going, How long is long, you know?

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): NBC also ordered two new comedies for mid- season, "Thick And thin" with Jessica Capshaw and "Four Kings," about four childhood friends living in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the "Friends" of the new millennium.

HAFFENREFFER (on camera): Who`s the most difficult one of the four of you to get -- to work with?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no! Why? Because I`m a diva?



HAFFENREFFER: And actor Chris Noth is returning to the "Law & Order" family. He`s joining the "Criminal Intent" cast, which is moving to Sunday night, opposite ABC`s "Desperate Housewives." And two new shows that we`ve seen -- rather, two shows that we`ve seen on NBC this season are being shelved. They are the reality show "Fear Factor" and the hospital comedy "Scrubs." Canceled entirely, "American Dreams," "Law and Order: Trial by Jury" and "Committed" -- Karyn.

BRYANT: Well, thank you, David. Well, stick around, because later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we`ll start our week-long series "TV Secrets Exposed." Tonight, we look into the mystery behind how the networks pick what pilots -- those are what sample shows are called -- how they`re made and how they make it to your television.

HAMMER: Tonight: Is there a link between President Bush`s war on terror and the new "Star Wars" movie, "The Revenge of the Sith"? Well, that was one of the burning questions for "Star Wars" creator George Lucas as the south of France became the Sith of France for the film`s premiere.


(voice-over): In Cannes this weekend, the storm troopers outnumbered the sunbathers as "Star Wars" episode 3, "Revenge of the Sith" made its debut at the Cannes film festival. Even though the movie takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it reminded some French audiences of right here, right now. The movie`s depiction of a troubled democracy and a war-mongering leader had them buzzing at Cannes about similarities to the war on terrorism and the Iraqi invasion. At one point, Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, says, "If you`re not with me, then you`re my enemy." That echoes President Bush`s famous post-9/11 ultimatum, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

But Lucas says he wrote the movie long before the troubles in Iraq.

GEORGE LUCAS, "STAR WARS" CREATOR: Well, when I wrote it, Iraq didn`t exist. You know, it was -- we were just -- we were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn`t think of him as an enemy, at that point.

HAMMER: Lucas went on to say it was the war in Vietnam that most influenced the "Star Wars" movies.

LUCAS: This really came out of the Vietnam era, and the parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we`re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.

HAMMER: Episode 3 ignited more than just war talk at Cannes. The other big question: What`s up with Natalie Portman`s hair? She didn`t have the out-of-this-world locks her character, Amidala, sports in the "Star Wars" movies. It turns out Portman shaved her head for a movie she`s working on. But at Cannes, she looked back on the fond memories she had of making the latest "Star Wars" trilogy.

NATALIE PORTMAN, "PADME AMIDALA": To get to work with the same people over few years is also really lucky because it`s always sad at the end of the film to say good-bye and know that maybe you`ll work together. But ending a film and knowing you`ll work together again was really, really a lucky opportunity.

HAMMER: While "Revenge of the Sith" is gaining rave reviews, Hayden Christiansen, who plays Anakin Skywalker, knows of one critic who didn`t have a good time watching it -- his own mom.

HAYDEN CHRISTIANSEN, "ANAKIN SKYWALKER": My mom actually just got to see the film not too long ago, and she was very disturbed by that. You know, getting to watch her son erupt into flames is a little unsettling.

HAMMER: On board the gigantic Queen Mary II, the Cannes film festival presented George Lucas with an achievement award. Ironically, Lucas admits he never thought "Star Wars" would be an achievement at all.

LUCAS: ... it would fail.

HAMMER: As we all know, "Star Wars" didn`t fail, and after being the toast of France, "Revenge of the Sith" is on course to conquer U.S. shores later this week.


And of course, "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" opens Wednesday in some European countries, Thursday here in the u.s.

BRYANT: Can`t wait. Well, even before the movie opens, we have not been able to escape the hype and the marketing of the movie because it is everywhere, from "Star Wars" pop-tarts and M&Ms to Chewbacca ring tones and even a "Darth Tater" Mr. Potatohead. The force of this movie will surely be with you. By some estimates, the current merchandising campaign for "Sith" will earn $500 million, adding to a total of $9 billion -- that`s billion with a B -- $9 billion of "Star Wars" merchandise sales since the start of the franchise in 1977.

Which leads to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. "Star Wars": Too much hype? You can vote at, or if you want to tell us more, e-mail us at, and we`ll share some of what you had to say later on.

HAMMER: Well, thanks to all of that "Star Wars" hype, one Web site has gotten almost 200,000 hits in less than a week. The on-line spoof, "Store Wars," was created by the National Organic Trade Association to promote organic food. The short film stars "Cuke Skywalker," "Ham Solo," "Obi wan Cannoli as well as some other fresh faces. Take a look at it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A growing resistance of the organic rebellion is fighting back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must learn the ways of the farm if you are to join the rebellion and rescue Princess Lettuce.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help me, Obi wan Cannoli. You`re my only hope.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, you`ll need to find friends to help you on your way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Ham Solo, captain of the Millennium Scallion. I hear you`re looking for...


HAMMER: I didn`t get to see Chewbroccoli there. Did you see Chewbroccoli? You can find the full version of that, "Store Wars: The Organic Rebellion," at

BRYANT: Oprah wore red, but everyone else was in white-tie formal for her big bash over the weekend. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there, and we`ll tell you why everyone said it was the event of a lifetime. That`s coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, the $50 million man who pulled a disappearing act. Now we know where he is, and tonight we find out what`s going on with Dave Chappelle.

BRYANT: Plus, the long good-bye. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there with the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" today as they do one final victory lap.

HAMMER: Here comes tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In what Tom Cruise movie did Jason Gedrick make an appearance, "Cocktail," "The Outsiders," "Risky business" or "Taps"? We`re coming straight back with the answer.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. So once again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In what Tom Cruise movie did Jason Gedrick make an appearance, "Cocktail," "The Outsiders," "Risky business" or "Taps"? The answer, C, "Risky Business."

BRYANT: The star of the TV show "Fat Actress" is slimming down. On "Oprah" today, Kirstie Alley revealed how she`s been doing some four months after joining and becoming the spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Take a look at Kirstie before. There she is. And come on out, girl!


WINFREY: The moment of truth. How much have you lost so far?

KIRSTIE ALLEY, "FAT ACTRESS": Well, I haven`t weighed this week, but I think I`ve lost over 33 pounds.

WINFREY: That`s fantastic!



BRYANT: Kirstie says she`s at the halfway point and is planning to lose about 30 more pounds. Kirstie also thanked Oprah for, quote, "sort of saving her life." It turns out that after she was on "Oprah" the last time, Kirstie stayed in Chicago, holed up at the Four Seasons Hotel, and quit smoking.

HAMMER: Well, Oprah threw the party that everybody wanted to be at over this past weekend. Winfrey hosted a white-tie ball in honor of legendary women. And of course, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas is live in Hollywood right now with the details. Tell us all about it, Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Hey, A.J. You know, Oprah invited Halle Berry, John Travolta, I mean, Tom Cruise -- it was a Who`s Who list - - to help her honor pioneering African-American women at Saturday`s ball at the trendy Bacara resort in Santa Barbara. Oprah instructed all of her guests to wear black and white, and of course, she turned out in red.


(voice-over): Oprah Winfrey`s Legends Ball brought out the big names. Halle Berry, Tyra Banks, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Maria Shriver, John Travolta, Sidney Poitier, Usher and Spike Lee were just a few of her guests.

HALLE BERRY: Honestly, when I saw the list, it just got better and better and better and better as I read down it. So I was excited to meet everybody that was here. And even the young `uns that are here to honor the legends. I wanted to meet many of them, as well.

VARGAS: Oprah invited SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to be on the guest list for the exclusive affair which paid tribute to 24 legendary black women who Oprah said have paved the way in art, entertainment and Civil Rights.

WINFREY: People receive the most accolades and the most flowers once they`re gone. You know, I just don`t believe in funerals. I don`t believe in sitting there, everybody singing and crying. What I think is you give people their bouquets, their -- their beauty, their -- their -- your appreciation while they`re here. And so I don`t want to be guilty of that.

VARGAS: Among the attending honorees, writer and activist Dr. Maya Angelou, singers Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross and Tina Turner, actress Cecily Tyson, and Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Those who couldn`t attend -- singer Aretha Franklin, poet Tony Morrison and the woman whose defiance started the Civil Rights movement, Rosa Parks. Dionne Warwick was blown away by the company.


VARGAS: Diana Ross wanted to network.

DIANA ROSS: I want to trade numbers tonight. That`s what I want to do.

VARGAS: The evening had a different vibe than many star-studded parties.

JOHN TRAVOLTA: Like, we`re going to acknowledge people for works well done and being effective to society. So whenever there`s a bigger or better purpose for an evening, it always feels better.

KELLY PRESTON: Yes, there`s a calm also, but with an underneath excitement that`s really palpable, you know? I can`t wait.

VARGAS: The weekend started on Friday with a luncheon to introduce the legends to who Oprah called the "young `uns."

MAYA ANGELOU: It is amazing to see friends and look around and see women with whom I`ve made friendship 45 years ago, and then some of the young people there, Alicia Keyes and Mary J. Blige and these young chaps, you know?

VARGAS: One of those young `uns, Alicia Keyes.

ALICIA KEYES: We were all just in one room and admiring each other and celebrating each other and so grateful to meet each other. So to have that opportunity was, like -- I felt like I was just traveling in this big bubble of a dream. And in a way, I thought I was going to wake up and it was going to be over.

VARGAS: Brandy told us it was very emotional.

BRANDY: We all cried together. We laughed together. We ate together. We drank champagne together. It was just -- in slang, it was off the hook.


VARGAS: A good way to put it, Brandy. Oprah said it was like a wedding and the Oscars all at the same time. Way to throw a party, hey, A.J.?

HAMMER: That`s right. It looks like it was an amazing event. Thanks very much, Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood.

And still ahead right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we begin our week-long series, "TV Secrets Exposed." Tonight, the TV pilot. No, not the kind that flies a plane, the kind that says whether or not a series goes on the air. Who decides and what -- who decides what gets made and what you`ll see? Well, we`re going to tell you all those answers.

BRYANT: Plus, the truth behind the delay of the $50 million deal. What is up with Chappelle? Stay tuned.


BRYANT: The $50 million comedian speaks. Tonight, we finally know what happened to Comedy Central star Dave Chappelle, who disappeared last month, just weeks before the scheduled debut of the third-season of his show. now, the man who tracked him down, "Time" magazine senior editor Chris Farley, who`s here with us live right now. Chris, what happened to Dave?

CHRIS FARLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, you know, it turns out that he thought the deadline was too tight. You know, he`s all about quality control. He`s all about protecting his vision of the show. Comedy Central wanted him to deliver the show May 31. They wanted the show to go on the air then. He didn`t want to do that. He fought against that. They resisted it. He took off for South Africa.

BRYANT: Because there certainly have been rumors that he was on drugs or that he was losing his mind. What do you have to say about that?

FARLEY: He denied all of it. And during most of this, I was actually on the phone with him. So we`re seeing these reports going on, he`s in a mental institution. I`m, like, Well, he`s on the phone with me, seeing these reports he`s partying, and I`m hearing, like, a Muslim prayer in the background. I`m, like, That doesn`t sound like a party.

So a lot of these reports were -- in fact, all of them are pretty much false, and you got to question the sources. Talking to him, he said he`s not crazy. He said he`s not on drugs. He`s not in a mental facility. And just to check it out, to make sure he wasn`t calling from, like, you know, 50th Street and 6th or something, we actually sent a reporter to Durban, South Africa, to talk to him in person. So I didn`t just talk to him on the phone. We had somebody on the scene talk to him, and also took pictures of where -- of how he was doing.

BRYANT: Now, certainly, though, it seems like there`s not a clear-cut explanation, though. Partly, maybe, he wanted to make sure he put out the best show he could, and partly it`s pressures of the people around him, right? Is there a clear explanation?

FARLEY: Well, he`s an artist. How clear-cut are you going make it? I mean, it`s as clear-cut as you`re going to get with someone whose mind is as radical and as out there as a guy like Dave Chappelle. He`s going make decisions that to the rest of us might seem a little bit funny. I mean, he`s a funny man. He`s a comedian. And this is -- might strike a lot of people as a little bit strange. It certainly struck his partner, Neal Brennan, who`s his writing partner, been with him for 14 years -- he didn`t even know what was going on, and he, I think, rightfully so, was a little bit upset over the way this went down.

BRYANT: Is he coming back?

FARLEY: Well, he says that he is going to come back. Just when he`s going to come back is a little bit up in the air. He says it`s soon. But you know, the one thing I`ve learned is you really can`t predict what Dave Chappelle`s going to do next. But I expect to see him somewhere in the States, you know, maybe in a few weeks, maybe in a few days.

BRYANT: Now, what about Doug Herzog, who is in charge of Comedy Central. Does Doug want Chris back?

FARLEY: Well, I...

BRYANT: I mean, Dave. I`m sorry. You`re Chris.

FARLEY: Yes. I talked to Doug Herzog, the president of Comedy Central, about the future of the show, the future of Dave Chappelle. He said right now, "The Dave Chappelle Show" is not going to be on the air for 2005. But -- and there`s a big but -- he said he wants to work with Dave Chappelle, thinks Dave Chappelle`s comedy genius. And there`s so much money wrapped up in the show from DVD revenues, you have to believe they`re going work things out and things will end more or less happily.

BRYANT: All right. Well, Chris Farley, thank you for joining with us the inside scoop on that. You can read Chris`s full article on Dave Chappelle in "time" magazine. It`s on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Well, they`ve been talking all day, and we`ve been listening. Now, as we do every night on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the best from today`s talk shows. On "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Ellen gave Jennifer Lopez a thoughtful housewarming gift -- a very retro one, to say the least.


ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST: It`s a very special picture. And we just did our prom show recently. And it`s something that I thought, Well, what am I going to do with it? Who`s going to really want it and appreciate it?


DEGENERES: Jennifer, Marc -- so -- and I`ll help you hang it wherever you want to put it in your house.


DEGENERES: It`s a nice full frame.

LOPEZ: I`m going to say this actually works with my decor! So we`re lucky!


HAMMER: I hope she`s got a good spot for that in the house. Tomorrow on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Britney Spears and Kevin Federline talk about the debut of their new reality show.

BRYANT: Well, their show is called "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic," and it`s an up close and personal look at the lives of the pop star and her husband. Tonight, we`ve got a first look for you, as we watch Britney get ready for a concert, and she hopes there`s no Kevin catastrophe.




SPEARS: Because! (INAUDIBLE) watching my show. So we got to look extra pretty. Watch me fall when I`m walking on the chairs!

FEDERLINE: Don`t say that.

SPEARS: What if I did?

FEDERLINE: You`d get up.

SPEARS: I`d get up and I`d laugh. Oh, no!


BRYANT: "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic" premieres tomorrow night on UPN.

HAMMER: Well, it`s a ringing endorsement for the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there, and that story is coming up.

BRYANT: Plus, Ben Folds unfolds a new album. We`ve got your guide to new music coming up in "People" magazine`s "Picks and Pans."


HAMMER: Tonight, its something every TV show shares.

BRYANT: Show signs-off.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 31 minutes past the hour. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: And I`m AJ Hammer. Here are tonight`s hot headlines.

BRYANT: Blanchett`s baby is recovering. Kate Blanchett`s one-year old son Roman is being treated for a minor burn. He was visiting his mom on the set of her movie "Babble" in Morocco.

"Star Wars" politics, George Lucas is denying that there are references to the war in Iraq in the last "Star Wars" movie "Revenge of the Sith." However, at the Cannes film festival in France this weekend, he did say that the Vietnam war did have a strong influence on the film.

Martha, monsters and motherhood, NBC lifting the curtain on its fall primetime schedule today. A total of six new shows including a drama set in a fertility clinic and one about a mysterious sea creature and an apprentice spin off starring Martha Stewart. Not picked up - "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "The Contender" and "American Dreams."

HAMMER: Well, this is the week all of the big broadcast networks reveal what you`ll be watching this fall on television and this is the week that SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be bringing you our very special series, TV secrets exposed, looking at everything from star salaries to how people get picked for reality shows.

Tonight we begin with TV pilots, those sample shows that are made before they can actually be green lit to become a series. Joining us live to talk about it, CNN`s senior terrorism and national security analyst, Ken Robinson, because he is the co-creator behind the pilot drama for NBC, "E- Ring," which was just picked up today as it was announced. Ari Karpel is the senior editor at "Entertainment Weekly" and Craig Tomashoff, who`s the senior editor at "TV Guide." Craig, I want to start with you. What is the biggest secret that would really surprise most people about this whole pilot process?

CRAIG TOMASHOFF, SR EDITOR, TV GUIDE: I think AJ I`ve always looked at the pilot process, it`s like a sausage. You like sausage, you just don`t want to know how they get it made. Pilots are sort of the same thing because it is such a -- it is a long process. We`re sitting here today going wow, look, they`ve got these shows but it is six, eight months in the making. It is a long process. A lot of thought goes into it. You wouldn`t think that watching the show sometimes, but a lot of thought goes into these things.

HAMMER: Is there one big secret that comes to mind for you?

ARI KARPEL, SR. EDITOR, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Yeah. Actually the process is incredible, the amazing thing is is that if a show is dead, it is dead. Nobody wants a network`s forgive the term sloppy seconds. If a show - basically if it tests poorly with audiences, no matter how much the networks love it, the writers love it, the producers love it, it is gone. And they can`t shop it around to other networks next season.

HAMMER: It could be a big show with lots of huge stars, everybody is all excited about it, doesn`t test well, in the can.


HAMMER: Wow. All right. Well, Ken, first of all, congratulations because it is terrific. Thousands of people submit their ideas. A few scripts get commissioned and a handful of pilots get made and you actually got one through. So congratulations on that. What is the secret, as you got one approved, what is the real secret to getting a pilot on the air?

KEN ROBINSON, CO-CREATOR, NBC`S E-RING: Luck. And after luck it is teaming with the right people. I personally teamed with Jerry Bruckheimer television. And Jerry Bruckheimer television understands story. They understand character and the development process, my studio was Warner Bros. And so by teaming with the right groups of people, being able to take the story and the characters and bring what is on the page on to the air, and that`s a difficult process.

HAMMER: We`re looking at a little bit of E-RING right now so it`s going to show up this fall. And basically when did you get the word that your pilot was being picked up?

ROBINSON: We started getting signals that they were very pleased with it throughout the process. They`ve initialed notes that they gave us when we wrote the script. The feedback that they were giving us from dailies and then we got official word two days before the weekend.

HAMMER: OK. How many pilots are actually made versus how many actually make it to air every year?

KARPEL: I`ll give you an example. NBC had ordered up about 16 dramas and seven comedies this season. And only six of it are going to make it to the air.

HAMMER: So they actually go through the process of making full half hour or hour shows for each of these pilots which can cost millions of dollars each.

TOMASHOFF: That`s why everybody gets very nervous right around this time of year because a lot of money is sunk into it and as I said, it is -- to get those test results back and you just realize you`ve sunk a lot of money into something that people aren`t going to watch, you get a little nervous. But at the same time, people take chances. "Desperate Housewives" was a chance a year ago. "Lost" was a chance a year ago and I think that`s how you win at these things too, is - the only way you win is being gutsy and saying, you know what, let`s roll the dice.

HAMMER: And there are lots of people who for their entire lives have gone through this process of trying to get stuff on the air and it never happens. You my good friend on the other hand this is the first time out that you submitted an idea and you somehow managed to thread that needle.

ROBINSON: Well, again, there is just as much luck as there is inspiration and perspiration in the process. And also dedication on the part of the people you put together. We were able to get a great cast, Dennis Hopper, Benjamin Bratt who brought an enormous amount of clout to the process. They`re proven entities and their understanding of the character. It`s a thousand things that come together. And there is no shame. One hundred and twenty of these are made. And very few are chosen and some great, test great -- some pilots that test great do poorly and some that do poorly do great when they get on the air. They have to find the audience. This is not success yet. It`s not until the audience says wow, I want to invite you into my home.

HAMMER: Talk about that testing process that you actually went through because I think there is another secret right there. A lot of people don`t realize, the pilot gets made and then it is in front of focus groups and test groups of all demographic range. What are some of the things you observed through that process?

ROBINSON: The interesting thing to me was they took the script and they broke it down by line and they put numbers and assigned numbers to it and then they gave the test audiences male and female, they got demographics in the 18 to 49 categories and gave them kind of a pleasure button to hold and if they were being pleasured by what they observed or what they heard, they would turn it up and if they disliked something this he would turn it down. You literally line by line can watch the process move up and down which is very scary in the room.

HAMMER: So this is where star power could come into play. You Benjamin Bratt on board. How important is star power to a process being successful or do you really want to go for unknown sometimes?

KARPEL: It is one of many factors that can make or break a show. It is -- there are many. And if you have a great actor and a proven star, it doesn`t mean the show is going to take off. Look at Geena Davis a few years ago or Tori Spelling. (INAUDIBLE)

TOMASHOFF: It doesn`t always work.

HAMMER: All very interesting stuff. Congratulations again to you Ken and Craig and Ari, thank you very much for dropping by and filling us in. It`s fascinating stuff. All this week SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes in depth to bring you our special series television secrets revealed. Now tomorrow, we`re going to talk about scheduling. How do the networks decide when you will actually see your favorite shows?

BRYANT: Jane Fonda`s return to the big screen paid off for this weekend at box office. "Monster-in-Law," Fonda`s first movie in 15 years, debuted in first place, according to final numbers out this afternoon. Will Ferrell`s new movie "Kicking & Screaming" opened in second place. "Unleashed," starring Jet Li and Morgan Freeman debuted in third. "Kingdom of Heaven" was in fourth place. And "Crash" rounded out the top five.

HAMMER: Well, if you went to the movies over the weekend, you probably had to sit through a few commercials beforehand, maybe even a few dozen and if you`re bothered by the ads, you are certainly not alone. On Friday`s "Tonight Show," "Desperate Housewives`" Marcia Cross and Jay Leno pitched a fit of sorts about having to sit through all those ads before the movies.


MARCIA CROSS, ACTRESS: I have a huge beef about the fact that there are now showing commercials in movie theaters.


CROSS: OK and it is - It started years ago, very suddenly. I would be in the back and I would - well not necessarily always in the back and I would yell no commercials with no shame. Lately I started yelling again because I feel we`re paying the money and it`s an art and it is important. And who makes these decisions? They just -- things happen. And we`re just sheep.


HAMMER: Well, if you do hear somebody yelling in the theater, it could be "Desperate Housewives`" Bree. So far only Loews theaters publish show start times that account for those ads.

BRYANT: Just a short time ago, the UK premiere of "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith." "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and Anakin Skywalker himself, Hayden Christensen, braved the London rain. The last "Star Wars" opens this Thursday. But some hard core fans today just couldn`t wait. They paid up to $450 each to watch all six "Star Wars" films in a row. That`s 14 hours together people, in case you are counting.

HAMMER: So with all the "Star Wars" stuff going on, we`re asking you here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT our question of the day. "Star Wars," too much hype? Keep voting by going to If you got more to tell us, send us an e-mail to and we`ll share some of what you had to say coming up at 54 past the hour.

BRYANT: "Everybody Loves Raymond" is everywhere in New York. I spent some time with the emotional cast today as their show signs off and we`ll show that to you next.

HAMMER: And should you open up your billfold for Ben Fold`s new CD? Find out in the showbiz guide to new music. That`s on the way.


NIKKI COX, LAS VEGAS: Hi. I`m Nikki Cox and I`m currently addicted to "Strange Love" on VH1. I suppose because I`m a romantic at heart.


BRYANT: Tonight is the night. The very last episode of the hit show "Everybody Loves Raymond" airs. I caught up with the entire cast today to see how they`re spending the last of their time together as the Barone family.


RAY ROMANO, PLAYS RAY: Oh, baby, does that feel good.

BRYANT (voice-over): Sure, they`re a little dysfunctional. But the family that has kept America laughing for nine years is saying good-bye tonight to America and to each other.

PETER BOYLE, PLAYS FRANK: I`ll be all right. I won`t cry. I won`t break down.

BRYANT: On the eve of their last episode, the cast came to New York City to watch the final EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. Where will you watch tonight, together separately?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Together. The cast, the writers.

ROMANO: Writers, friends and family and one hooker. Just, you know, we`re going keep it mellow.

DORIS ROBERTS, PLAYS MARIE: I`m hoping to have a glass of champagne at my hand at the time and be thankful for nine glorious years.

BRYANT: It is no surprise that everybody really does love Raymond. In a world where reality shows and crime dramas reign supreme, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND is still America`s top rated family sit com with 12 Emmys and more than 200 episodes under their belt. Why stop now?

ROMANO: We stopped because we did 210 episodes and we said a lot and did a lot. We just creatively thought we reached our peak and the end of the line.

MONICA HORAN: Phil always says after you fin, a great meal, you don`t sit there and say, oh, I wish I could do that meal again you say oh my God, it was amazing, I`m glad I had it. And that is really I think how we feel.

BRYANT: The whole crew headed down to the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate the day by ringing the closing bell, a suitable close to their own very memorable ending.

PATRICIA HEATON, PLAYS DEBRA: When we first got here to New York City, I felt very slightly melancholy because it is where I started out and so to come back with this kind of triumphant finish to our show is wonderful and kind of sad. You have a dream fulfilled, but that also means the dream is over.

BRAD GARRETT: Sure I`m going to be sad. But it is a good sad. You know what I mean? It is like when the psychotic girlfriend finally leaves one day when you`re getting the paper.

BRYANT: He may have been sad, but it didn`t stop him from keeping me in stitches.

GARRETT: Look at that tug boat bringing in ray`s wallet. That`s his residual ship.

BRYANT: The camera loves you.

GARRETT: You know what I heard? The camera wants to see other people. You know how when you hear the camera loves you, this is what I heard, the camera just wants to be really good friends.

BRYANT: Obviously Brad, there is still a lot of comedy left in you.

GARRETT: Well, that`s the medication you hear. That`s the Mydol backing up on me. Well, you know, this is the way I keep from crying today.

BRYANT: I know this has got to feel good knowing that you`re going to work and you`re still making something good, not that you`re dragging and you`re going --

GARRETT: That was the point. It`s one thing to be on a hit and we`re all very fortunate to have this job for nine years. To be on something you`re proud of, it`s something that people respond to is really great. We`re going to miss it - I`m going to miss you a lot.

BRYANT: And everybody will certainly miss Raymond. He was killing me today, Brad Garrett. You can catch the last episode of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND tonight on CBS.

HAMMER: Now on to a season finale, a New York City firefighter, well, the New York City firefighters at large are known as New York`s bravest, of course. Tonight one of them braved 39 days on an exotic island, to pocket one million bucks.

41-year-old New York City firefighter Tom Westman is the winner of the tenth edition of the CBS reality show. He says he`ll use the cash towards college for his kids and to fix up his house. The next "Survivor," "Survivor 11," is going to premier in September and it`s going to take place among the Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

BRYANT: Ozzy mouths off to a puppet. That is coming up in laughter dark.

HAMMER: And former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant has a new CD out, but should you plant down your plastic for it? We`re going to find out in the showbiz guide to new music. That`s on the way.


BRYANT: Time for the showbiz guide where throughout the week we help you decide where to spend your dollars on movies, music, DVDs and more. Tonight, "People"`s picks and pans new music. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Robert Plant and Ben Folds. Should you buy their new albums? Joining us from "People" magazine is senior editor Julie Dam. Julie, thanks for joining us and let`s get right down to it with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

JULIE DAM, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: He`s one of the most prolific people out there in music right now. And just because he didn`t release anything last year, he decides to release three albums this year. This is actually his first and it is a double album in fact. It is his usual alt country, but now that he`s working with a band again, there is a little bit more uplift in the lyrics, but there is also plenty of heart break. So a good album. It is our critics` choice this week.

BRYANT: You personally like it as well?

DAM: It is good.

BRYANT: All right. Well let`s talk about Robert Plant. Obviously everybody knows this is a former Zeppelin frontman.

DAM: Right. This is his first album in 12 years and it is also his fifth decade in the music business, and believe it or not, he`s keeping up with the times. There`s a little bit of electronic in there. There`s a little bit of Middle Eastern music, a little bit of African music. With mixed results but he`s trying.

BRYANT: And how old he is now? I remember seeing Robert -- 56. You have to give him credit for that.

DAM: Exactly.

BRYANT: In the wake of the Rolling Stones announcing yet another tour. Robert, good for him. So Ben Folds, people might remember Ben Folds Five and that Ben worked with two other Bens not too long ago.

DAM: Right, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller. And he`s actually touring with Ben Lee again this summer. And the tour is called odd men out. So there is, you know, and that`s the way he is. It is a little eclectic. It`s piano based pop but it`s also -- he has weird Al singing on this album and this is the guy, after all who produced William Shatner`s album last year. He`s a little all over the place.

BRYANT: Well, three picks, thank you, Julie for joining us. For more picks and pans, you can pick up a copy of "People" magazine at news stands everywhere.

HAMMER: It`s time now for the show`s biz, a look at what is going on in the business of entertainment., part of our family, says today it will offer free video beginning on June 20th. Viewers will be able to watch hourly news casts, business, sports and entertainment on demand. A premium pay service is going to launch in the fall.

BRYANT: It is time to get your laugh on in laughter dark. We`ll do it every night. We bring you the late night laughs you may have missed. Bobby meets Ozzy, the wise cracking Muppett meets the wise cracking prince of darkness on Friday`s "Jimmy Kimmel Live."


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: You did or you did not work together?

MUPPETT: No. No. We almost worked together but when Kermit came in wearing a cape, Ozzy almost bit his head off.

KIMMEL: Oh, my gosh.

MUPPETT: It was --

KIMMEL: Thank god.

MUPPETT: Scary. Yeah. It`s all better now, right?

KIMMEL: Bobby, how do you like it here in Los Angeles?


KIMMEL: The last time this happened, there was a terrible tragedy as you can see.


BRYANT: Tomorrow on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," from the "Hitchhiker`s Guide to the Galaxy," actress Zooey Deschanel and "Lost`s" Malcolm David Kelly.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. "Star Wars," too much hype? Here`s how the vote`s going so far. 56 percent of you say yes there is too much hype, 44 percent say no, so it is kind of an even split. You can still vote at tonight if you`d like.

BRYANT: It is time to see what is playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow.

HAMMER: And to do that, we have to send it over the marquee guy. Take it away marquee guy.

ANNOUNCER: Tomorrow, it`s a high stakes game of chess where a checkmate means you might be checked out of Hollywood.

Piecing together a primetime lineup. How do your favorite TV shows get scheduled? We spill more TV secrets tomorrow. Also tomorrow, "American Idol" is going on tour and we`re big groupies. Idol finalists on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. So pack your bags and hop on the bus, Gus, or whatever your name is. Tomorrow, this is the marquee guy. Remember this, life is like a highway and I plan to ride it all night long.

HAMMER: We just stole that line from Tom Cochran.

BRYANT: That`s right.

HAMMER: Now you saw "Star Wars." But it is opening up on Thursday. Are you going to have to go back and see it since you missed the last 20 minutes?

BRYANT: Yes, I`m going back. I`m probably going back a few times AJ. I`m like that when it comes to "Star Wars."

HAMMER: All right. We`ll see it a few times. That`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m AJ Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant. Stay tuned for the latest from headline news.


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