ABC is adding another new show to its lineup, and it's sort of a symbol of the direction network television is headed.
"American Detective" debuts Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. (Yes, it's what we'll be seeing in place of "Twin Peaks.")The network calls it a "hard-hitting, one-hour reality series that focuses on the jobs, actions and private existences of the men and women who protect the public with their ongoing battle against society's criminal element."
Maybe they just ought to call it "Private Top Cops."
We're seeing more and more of these reality series on the networks these days - Fox's "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted," NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries," CBS' "Top Cops," "Rescue 911" and "True Detective."
These shows aren't necessarily big hits. (Although "Unsolved" and "911" qualify.) But they are inexpensive to make - a major consideration these days.
The budget of an hourlong reality series tends to be at least a third less than the average hourlong drama series. Thus, the networks can get something on the air that will make a profit with lower ratings and leave more money in the budget for the other shows.
So be prepared to see the unreal world of television become more and more "reality" based.
CBS LAYOFFS: CBS, the one-time Tiffany network, is beginning yet another round of layoffs.
The network's bottom line is looking redder and redder, so about 400 employees are being let go.
It's the sort of story television editors have written about before, and you've undoubtedly seen before. And other than perhaps a silent "Thank goodness it's not me," it's the sort of story that seems rather impersonal.
Until now. Among those getting pink slips is one of my favorite people in the television business, Axel Peterson.
A great big cuddly bear of a man, Peterson is one of four people laid off in CBS' West Coast media relations office. And after 35 years with the network.
Always cheerful, always upbeat - despite the gloom and doom that has enveloped CBS for years - Axel was never too busy to be helpful, even to a novice television critic still trying to figure out what was going on.
Over the years, he's sometimes been the only thing standing between CBS and utter disaster as far as public relations go.
I'll miss him.
He deserved better than this. And here's hoping his next employer appreciates him more.
HALL OF FAME: Desi Arnaz, Leonard Bernstein, James Garner, Danny Thomas and Mike Wallace will be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame.
All are deserving. Arnaz not only for his role of Ricky Ricardo but for his pioneering of the three-camera comedy, his use of film (which more or less invented reruns) and his production of shows like "The Untouchables" and "Our Miss Brooks."
Bernstein for his young people's concerts and four Emmys.
Garner for his roles in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," as well as numerous outstanding TV movies.
Thomas for his Emmy-winning role in "Make Room for Daddy" and "The Danny Thomas Show," as well as for producing shows like "Andy Griffith," "Dick Van Dyke" and "Mod Squad."
And Wallace for his long career in broadcast journalism - he's won 11 Emmys - culminating with "60 Minutes."
But the recognition is long overdue. Each should have been enshrined years ago - and it might have been nice if Arnaz, Bernstein and Thomas weren't being honored posthumously.