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State of the Art for Movie and TV Pilot Testing

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the broadcast brass hunkered down in their respective headquarters reviewing pilots last week are getting their annual reminder of where true power lies at this time of year.

It's not with parent-company power brokers like News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who are known to partake in the occasional pilot screening. Nor is it the lowly twenty-something assistants just lucky enough to be in the room -- though their opinion often matters more than the chairman's because they're in the target demographic.

In many cases, what really matters in the screening rooms is research. Scores gleaned from audience samples, whether from outsourced test facilities or cable-system narrowcasts, become valuable currency as broadcasters decide which shows merit series orders for the schedules, set to be announced next week.

Beverly Bolotin, president of testing company ASI Entertainment, believes that data grading viewer feedback on everything from specific characters to their overall impression of a show helps evaluate a program's prospects. However, when you visit ASI's corporate website, you can't help but wonder -- this is the leading 'state of the art' company that's helping to guide the multi-billion dollar U.S. entertainment industry? Amazing, but apparently true.

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