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Issue 34

Discussion in 'The Alias Newsletter' started by Azhria Lilu, Mar 17, 2003.

  1. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

    Nov 18, 2002
    Derbyshire, UK
    The Alias Newsletter Sunday Edition

    A quick (although not short) article to get you hyped up for tonight’s

    ABC's Latest Mission? Hyping 'Alias' to crowds.
    NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Terrorists, torturers and a troubled family
    background aren't enough to stop super spy Sydney Bristow. Her greatest
    escapade is about to take place right after this year's Super Bowl.

    Whether she succeeds or fails in her mission that night is less
    important than how many people watch her do so - and decide to watch

    Agent Bristow is the lead character on "Alias," an adventure drama
    airing on Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) turnaround-mode ABC network, and her
    ultimate victory or demise hinges on executives at the Alphabet Network
    transforming the show from a cult fave to a massive hit.

    Putting "Alias" on after the Super Bowl - perhaps the best-watched TV
    event of the year and often a temporary rating booster - is part of a
    "big push" to ensure the program becomes "a big, long-running hit
    drama," says Steve Sohmer, the network's executive vice-president of

    Will "Alias" thrive or die? Ultimately, says Tim Spengler, an executive
    vice president and director of national broadcast at Interpubic Group of
    Cos.' (IPG) Initiative Media, "the unwashed masses across the whole
    country will decide."

    Gripping Episode

    Meanwhile, viewers can expect to be dazzled as "Alias" vies for their
    attention. The episode airing after the big football game "starts with a
    spectacular opening," says J.J. Abrams, the program's creator and
    executive producer, and ends with "the single most shocking thing you'll
    see on TV this year."

    Already, however, ABC has expressed concern over the drama's
    sophomore-year performance. "As well as the show does for us, it should
    be doing better, given the quality," said Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC's
    entertainment group, during a conference call after the November sweeps.
    "If anything, we've got to make the show more receptive to non-viewers."

    "Alias" stars Jennifer Garner as a twentysomething CIA operative who
    realizes she knows less and less about her family, friends and enemies
    the more and more she deals with them. Like the title, nothing on the
    program is what it seems. Bristow works for the CIA but spends her days
    spying on a rogue operation known as SD-6, which bills itself as a CIA
    offshoot in order to play on its employees' patriotic leanings. By many
    accounts, "Alias' is everything ABC needs - a clever fusion of
    espionage, family drama, gadgets, disguises, exotic travel, humor, a
    breakout starlet and spiraling subplots that keep loyal fans coming back
    week after week.

    The last element may give ABC pause. Like "24," an action series that
    takes place in real time on News Corp.'s (NWS) rival Fox, "Alias" can be
    tough to follow if a viewer skips an episode or two. "It's not a show
    you can watch passively or you can watch hit-or-miss," says Jack Sander,
    executive vice president of media operations for Belo Corp. (BLC), which
    owns four ABC affiliates. "You almost have to stay with it all the time.
    You couldn't have said that about 'ER' five years ago or so."

    Of course, complex storytelling isn't the only challenge. On TV, Sunday
    nights have become as competitive as Thursday nights. For most of this
    season, "Alias" has had to contend not only with "The Sopranos" on AOL
    Time Warner Inc.'s (AOL) HBO, but also "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" on
    General Electric Co.'s (GE) NBC and teen favorite "Angel" on WB, owned
    by AOL and Tribune Co. (TRB).

    "With 'The Sopranos' out of the mix, and 'Angel' moved to Wednesday, I
    think ABC will have a better chance of seeing what 'Alias' can do," says
    Pattie Glod, vice president of marketing and media for Limited Brands
    Inc. (LTD), which advertises for Victoria's Secret during "Alias."

    The network may need to know soon, suggests Kathryn Thomas, an associate
    director at Publicis Groupe SA's (PUB) Starcom Entertainment. Simply
    put, "Alias" isn't cheap, she says, costing between $1.5 million and
    $1.7 million an episode, according to one estimate. Because it is
    produced by Disney's Touchstone Television, ABC and Disney likely bear
    full financial responsibility.

    Show-Biz Economics

    "It's an expensive show to produce. Jennifer Garner has been made a star
    because of this, and will only get more expensive," says Thomas. "If
    they can't find a viable financial model this season," she adds, "Alias"
    could very well "go away."

    ABC disputes that notion. "The shows that are really expensive are shows
    that have gone through one cycle, and then have a chance to renegotiate
    their whole talent structure," says ABC's Sohmer. "I don't know whether
    it's expensive or not, but it's not expensive compared to 'The West
    Wing' and some of those others."

    Nevertheless, ABC might want to look into ways to make "Alias" pay off a
    little faster, suggests Thomas. A DVD of the first season could give the
    show a promotional boost - and a financial one. And repurposing "Alias"
    on cable's ABC Family channel may not be the best use of the program,
    she says; at times, "Alias" can be sexy and violent.

    For his part, Abrams is aware of some of the challenges. "There is some
    truth to the confusion factor, but I love the show so much that the last
    thing I would do is dumb it down," he says. "There is a difference
    between dumbing it down and eliminating unnecessary confusion." Viewers
    can expect subtle shifts in the storytelling, he says, that bring Sydney
    and her CIA handler, Vaughn, together romantically. What's more, the
    show will demonstrate more clearly who Sydney's enemies are, never an
    easy task.

    "Ultimately, the show is a mystery, and that's kind of the fun of it,"
    says Abrams, "but in a mystery, if you don't know who you are, it goes
    from being a mystery to being a mess. That, to me, is something we're
    going to be able to deal with."

    Expect lots of "Alias" promotion over the next few months, says Sohmer,
    on ABC as well as in print and on radio. Promotions for the show focus
    on "the foreground adventure, the caper," he says. "The adventure of the
    week is a real potboiler, with a beginning, middle and an end." Ongoing
    subplots take a back seat. After the Super Bowl, ABC hopes to attract
    new viewers, and then keep them. "You can look for us to be hammering
    away," he says, through February and March.

    Meanwhile, ABC might enjoy an added boost when the 20th Century Fox
    super-hero movie "Daredevil" comes out on Feb. 14 - "Alias" star Garner
    has a featured role as the knife-throwing assassin Elektra. "Getting her
    out on the talk-show circuit, getting her into promotional places could
    help a lot," says Belo's Sander. If so, then "Alias" may well be armed
    for its most harrowing assignment - staying on the air.

    Found on Yahoo! Finance.

    More news:


    Have a great Sunday and enjoy Alias!


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