David Morse - Hack

David Morse - The Langoliers

Posted on Thu, May. 15, 2003

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Gail Shister | 'Hack' will still drive Philly streets, but on a new night

By Gail Shister
Inquirer Columnist

It's good news and bad news for Hack.

The good news: David Morse's Philly-based drama about a disgraced cop-turned-cabdriver will live to see a second season on CBS.

The bad news: It's moving to 9 p.m. Saturdays - the least-watched night of the week and considered a death sentence for many shows.

CBS was so undecided about Hack that executive producer Bob Singer didn't get the call until 11 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday - about 12 hours before the network announced its fall schedule.

"It was crazy, really nuts," says Singer. "I never know what goes on in those network rooms. As the night wore on, given the flurry of activity during the day, I thought our chances were improving."

The flurry was a series of calls to Singer from CBS suits, asking if he would lighten up Hack's gloomy tone. Particularly Morse's mortician-like Mike Olshansky.

"We do have Mike smile on occasion, but I know what they're saying. We can be good, complex and dark, and not necessarily have David in a constant state of unhappiness."

While a fan of Morse and his costar, Andre Braugher, CBS boss Les Moonves says he wants Hack to be more like CBS's 1985-89 The Equalizer, "where the good guys kick the heck out of the bad guys on Saturday night."

Hack scored so-so ratings at 9 p.m. Fridays this season. Having a totally incompatible 8 p.m. lead-in - Arsenio Hall's Star Search - didn't help.

In its new 9 p.m. Saturday address, Hack will be hammocked between 48 Hours Investigates and The District, both of which attract more Hack-friendly viewers than does a talent show.

Looking on the bright side, Singer says he's happier with Saturdays than Fridays.

"We have a chance to score there, given the parameters of Saturday night. You're competing in a universe where everybody has the same problem. You know you're not going to be a top 20 show, but that's OK if you perform well."

Production is expected to resume here the second or third week in July.

Double the fun. And if one Philly-set cop show isn't enough, CBS also has picked up Cold Case, about a Philadelphia homicide squad with a lone female detective (Minority Report's Kathryn Morris).

Hack's Singer isn't worried.

"There are plenty of L.A. cop shows, and NBC has made a cottage industry of New York cop shows [Law & Order]. Besides, the look of their show [Cold Case] will be entirely different than ours."

Cold Case, based in L.A., will do exterior shooting here "as regularly as possible," says executive producer Meredith Stiehm, a 1990 Penn grad.

Cold is the first series for Stiehm, an ex-writer for ER and NYPD Blue. "I'm thrilled. It's so overwhelming. It feels like a reward after putting so much work into the script."

With Cold Case, executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer now has four shows on CBS. The others: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; CSI: Miami; and Without a Trace.

Moonves labels Cold Case "one of our favorite pilots." Morris "is a potential big, big television star."

Cold Case will air at 8 p.m. Sundays, after 60 Minutes.

Coming home. Dan Aykroyd, an original member of Saturday Night Live's "Not Ready for Prime Time Players," will do his first SNL hosting gig on the season finale this weekend on NBC.

Aykroyd, 50, an SNL regular from 1975 to '80, drew raves for his impressions of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Tom Snyder, as well as such original characters as Beldar Conehead and Elwood Blues.

Musical guest isBeyoncé Knowles from Destiny's Child.

Short stuff.Paul Slavin, executive producer of Peter Jennings' World News Tonight, has been promoted to senior vice president of ABC News, a new title. As No. 2 to news division president David Westin, Slavin will oversee ABC's worldwide news-gathering operations as well as ABC News Radio, ABCNews.com, and ABC News special events... . Roxborough's Kim Delaney will star as a seismologist in 10.5, a four-hour NBC mini-series about a deadly earthquake hitting the West Coast. (Sounds like her career these days.)

Contact television columnist Gail Shister at 215-854-2224 or gshister@phillynews.com.



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