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''Joan'' again

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 20, 2005

''Joan of Arcadia'' may have completed its run for CBS, but some of us can't let it go. Well, me anyway. And I wasn't all that happy with the show's second season.

''Joan'' came up during a press conference for ''Ghost Whisperer,'' the series taking the ''Joan'' time slot this fall. Making the change weirder: ''Joan'' was about a girl who talked to God, and ''Ghost Whisperer'' is about a woman who talks to the dead. With CBS ever more in the chase for the young-adult demographic, CBS boss Leslie Moonves reportedly -- and now notoriously -- said, ''Talking to ghosts may skew younger than talking to God.''

(At a CBS press event Wednesday night, Moonves insisted that the comment was tongue-in-cheek.)

''We want to say we all love (''Joan''),'' said ''Ghost Whisperer'' executive producer Kim Moses. ''We have relationships with the producers and creators and have a high regard for it, and we don't look at ourselves as replacing that. We look at ourselves as getting a slot on the fall schedule, and we're in complete different worlds.''

(By the way, I'll have a column in Thursday's Beacon Journal about ''Ghost Whisperer's'' ties to self-described ghost-buster Mary Ann Winkowski of North Royalton.)

Earlier, at a press conference with CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler,several questions came up about ''Joan.'' (I told you we can't let it go.)

The cancellation ''was a big disappointment for all of us, me personally,'' said Tassler. ''We lost probably 24 percent of our audience the middle of the first year. We never got them back. We went through massive marketing campaigns, promotional campaigns. We just couldn't get them back.''

This was something of a surprise. For many of us ''Joan'' watchers, it seemed that the show went into decline in its second season, when a grimness and pessimism set in. But, with her saying the change came earlier, I asked if she knew why viewers left.

''If you could tell me where that audience went, I would love to know,'' Tassler said. ''I don't know.''

Tassler -- generally cautious to a fault in her press conference -- avoided attempts to get her to respond directly to the Moonves quote. Pressed on whether ghosts skew younger than God, she finally said, ''Right now the (new) show appeals to all demos.''

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