DESPERATE NO LONGER
The desperately missed women of Wisteria Lane returned Sunday night and validated themselves as the reigning rulers of the ratings. ABC's Desperate Housewives drew 28,170,000 viewers represented by a 19.2 rating and a 26 share, according to Nielsen overnights. The show also pulled a 12.2/26 among adults 18-49. The figures exceeded the impressive debut of the series a year ago by 16 percent. The show also provided strong coattails for its lead-out, Grey's Anatomy, which registered a 13.3/20. Earlier in the evening, ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition pulled a 6.4/10 at 7:00 p.m. while a second hour of the show at 8:00 p.m. drew a 10.3/15. CBS was helped by a nearly one-hour long football overrun in the 7:00 p.m. hour that scored a 14.6/24. The season premiere of 60 Minutes, which followed, led the 8:00 p.m. hour with a 12.1/18.

N.Y. TIMES OMBUDSMAN SIDES WITH GERALDO

The public editor of the New York Times, who, according to the newspaper, "serves as the readers' representative," or ombudsman, has sharply criticized executive editor Bill Keller for his refusal to publish a correction of a column by TV writer Alessandra Stanley in which she accused Geraldo Rivera of nudging a hurricane rescue worker out of the way to that he could be seen on TV helping a woman in a wheelchair. Byron Calame wrote in Sunday's edition: "My viewings of the videotape -- at least a dozen times, including one time frame by frame -- simply doesn't show me any "nudge" of any Air Force rescuer by Mr. Rivera." Calame wrote that he had received an email message from Keller indicating that the nudge might have occurred off-camera, "a line of reasoning that raises, for me, a basic question of journalistic fairness. ... I find it disturbing that any Times editor would ... rely on assumptions and refuse to correct an unsupported fact." As for Keller's further comment that Stanley was "writing as a critic, with the license that title brings," Calame concluded: 'nudge' is a fact, not an opinion. And even critics need to keep facts distinct from opinions."

WILL SMITH SHEPHERD FOX-TV NEWSCAST?

Shepard Smith's star appears to be on the ascendance following critical praise for his coverage of the two Gulf Coast hurricanes. Associated Press writer David Bauder observed in a profile of Smith on Sunday that with Fox News chief Roger Ailes becoming chairman of Fox Television Stations, speculation has arisen that he may launch a nightly newscast for the broadcast network. Smith, Bauder commented, "would be the obvious choice to anchor." Asked about such a possibility, Smith replied, "It would be so cool ... and if they wanted me to do it, I certainly wouldn't turn them down."

CNN SAYS IT'S NOT TALKING TO RATHER ABOUT ANCHOR POST

CNN has denied reports that appeared on the Internet over the weekend that the cable news network was in talks with Dan Rather. A spokesman for the cable network told the blog What's Happening at CNN, "We are not in discussions with Dan Rather and it should come as no surprise that we're very pleased with our lineup of Aaron [Brown] and Anderson [Cooper] from 10 to midnight since we're beating Fox at that time in the key [18-49-year-old] demo." The rumor may have been touched off by Larry King's announcement last week that Dan Rather would be sitting in for him over the weekend during CNN's coverage of Hurricane Rita. As it turned out, King handled the hurricane watch on his own and gave no explanation for Rather's absence.

ROONEY ON THE BROADCAST NEWS FRATERNITY

On CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday, Andy Rooney devoted his segment to showing the enormous turnout of news people -- colleagues and rivals -- for the memorial service earlier in the week for Peter Jennings. "What you probably don't know is what a close group the reporters are who give this country their news. They may not always be liked or respected by viewers but they like and respect each other. They are closer than are the people in any other business or profession," he maintained. After showing some of the news luminaries, Rooney then concluded: "It was the most illustrious gathering of news people that has ever taken place. A terrorist attack on Carnegie Hall that day would have wiped out broadcast news. If ABC wants to pay a lasting tribute to Peter Jennings they could provide one hour of prime time news every night of the week without commercials. Call it The Jennings Hour."

BBC WON'T GIVE RAW TAPES TO POLICE

The BBC has refused to turn over to London police raw videotapes of its interviews with two Muslim clerics who are being investigated for allegedly attempting to incite violence. Excerpts from the interviews with Abu Uzair and Abu Izzadeen were broadcast in August on the BBC program Newsnight. In the broadcast Uzair declared, "We don't live in peace with you any more. The banner has been risen for jihad inside the U.K." In the same program, Izzadeen commented that the London bombings would make people "wake up and smell the coffee."

FOSTER MOVIE IS TOP-FLIGHT

The box office took flight over the weekend as two new movies performed far better than analysts' predictions. Disney's Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster,premiered with $24.6 million, while Warner Bros.' animated Corpse Bride, widening its release, earned $20.1 million. Daily Variety observed that it was the first time that two new films opened with more than $20 million in September. The two hits helped push the weekend box office 39 percent above the figure for the same weekend a year ago, despite the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of theaters were closed because of Hurricane Rita. (Houston, which was evacuated, is the fourth-largest market in the U.S.) A third new film, Roll Bounce, opened with $8 million, putting it in fourth place, just behind last week's box-office winner, Just Like Heaven, whose gross declined 40 percent to $9.8 million. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Flightplan, $24.6 million; 2. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, $20.1 million; 3. Just Like Heaven, $9.8 million; 4. Roll Bounce, $8 million; 5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose, $7.5 million; 6. Lord of War, $4.9 million; 7. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, $4.3 million; 8. The Constant Gardener, $2.2 million; 9. Transporter 2, $2.15 million; 10. Cry Wolf, $2.1 million.

SAG ACTIVIST ELECTED PRESIDENT

Alan Rosenberg, who headed the Membership First faction of the Screen Actors Guild that had demanded that it take a more aggressive stance in negotiations with producers, was elected president of the union Friday. He will succeed Melissa Gilbert, with whom he frequently clashed in recent months -- particularly over what he regarded as the union's "soft" stance on DVD residuals. He defeated a Gilbert ally, actress Morgan Fairchild, and independent candidate Robert Conrad. In a statement, Rosenberg said, ""I ran a campaign that offered a simple and straightforward promise -- I will fight like hell to get actors their fair share."

WINFREY INVESTS $1 MILLION IN COLOR PURPLE BUSICAL

Oprah Winfrey, who first came to public notice when she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, has agreed to invest more than $1 million in a Broadway musical version of the story, the New York Times reported today (Monday). In an interview with the newspaper, Winfrey remarked, "It's been a secret dream of mine to be part of Broadway. ... I hope to be able to do for this production some of what I've been able to do for books -- that is, to open the door to the possibilities for a world of people who have never been or even thought of going to a Broadway show." The musical, to be titled Oprah Winfrey Presents: "The Color Purple," is due to begin previews on Nov. 1 and have its official opening at the Broadway Theater on Dec. 1.

CANADIAN ACTOR'S FILM WINS AT MONTREAL FESTIVAL

A French-Canadian actor, who turned to screenwriting when he couldn't get work for 18 months, then insisted on directing and acting in the movie when his script was sold, won the Golden Iris Grand Prize at the first New Montreal FilmFest for his L'Audition. Luc Picard also won the prize for best acting in a Canadian feature. In an interview with today's (Monday) Montreal Gazette, Picard, one of Quebec's leading actors for years, recalled that his months of unemployment "caused me all kinds of anxiety. It doesn't make you feel any better to say you're famous when you're 40 years old and you're sitting at home without any work."

FUTURE OF HIGH-DEFINITION TV GROWS BLURRY

The impending high-definition format war between Toshiba's HD-DVD system and Sony's Blu-ray may take on a third combatant, a Chinese standard called AVS, Home Media Retailing magazine reported on its website Friday. The trade publication indicated that China had decided to launch a rival system, which will initially be available only on the Mainland, so that Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers would not have to pay fees to license the high-definition technology of either of the two Japanese systems.