It looks as if execs at the CW want to give young viewers something to talk about: The debut episode of the network’s GOSSIP GIRL has been moved forward a week – to September 19 at 9 p.m. – meaning the show will now launch earlier than major competitors BIONIC WOMAN and PRIVATE PRACTICS, each of which is slated to debut the following Wednesday. Better still, the move will allow GG to capitalize on a lead-in that’s pretty much guaranteed to deliver good numbers in the desired demo as it will now follow the premiere of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL.
It’s open season on things that go bump in the night as the networks continue seeking out new programs with supernatural themes. FOX has greenlit production on an unusual concept dubbed THE OAKS which focuses on three couples who inhabit the same house at different periods in history, yet are connected by the spirts which haunt the abode. Variety reports that the script caused a bit of a bidding war between several networks, with FOX putting big bucks on the block. Not to be outdown, NBC has ponied up a nice wad of cash for their own spookfest: an untitled project from former OC writer John Stephens which focuses on cops who make a living by busting the undead.
Reality television is taking a beating this week. First, the issue of New York magazine which hits stands today accuses Bravo – home of such hits as PROJECT RUNWAY and TOP CHEF – of playing down and dirty with contestants. While the story praises the quality of Bravo’s offerings, it accuses the shows of putting contestants through the ringer and making them sign very restrictive contracts with long-lasting implications. Meanwhile, rude chef Gordon Ramsay may be in for a taste of what he so often dishes out on HELL’S KITCHEN now that he’s being sued by a Manhattan chef who accuses the foul-mouthed cook of staging scenes for his latest reality series. According to Martin R. Hyde, former general manager of Dillon’s restaurant, Ramsay hired actors to pose as diners and planted tainted meat in the establishment’s fridge and then blamed Hyde for it being there. The lawsuit goes on to allege that in filming his new show – an Americanized version of his Brit hit, RAMSAY’S KITCHEN NIGHTMARES – the tempermental chef humiliated Hyde to the point where he had to quit his job to avoid further abuse.