RATINGS: SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY
Each of the four major networks could find something to celebrate about in last week's ratings. CBS could claim the biggest bragging rights as it continued not only as the most-watched network overall but also rose to become No. 1 among adults 18-49.. In addition, it nabbed the No. 1 spot on the program list with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which drew 28.3 million viewers. Thanks to post-season baseball, Fox was able to land in second place for the week (tied with ABC. Moreover, the games put the network in first place among men in all age demographics. ABC continued its amazing recovery, adding a fourth drama to its string of new hits. Besides last season's Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy, it now has Commander in Chief, the biggest new hit of the season, which finished eighth in the overall ratings. ABC also did well with the new Wednesday-night sitcom Freddie, which won its time period and placed 45th for the week. Finally, although NBC failed to place a single show in the top ten, its My Name Is Earl remained the most-watched new comedy, coming in at No. 23 overall. CBS finished the week with an overall average of 8.7/14. Fox and ABC tied for second with a 6.9/11. NBC finished fourth with a 6.4/10
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 17.4/26.0; 2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 16.1/23.0; 3. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.4/22.0; 4. Lost, ABC, 12.8/19.0; 5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 12.2/19.0; 6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 11.9/18.0; 7. NCIS, CBS, 10.9/17.0; 8. Commander in Chief, ABC, 10.8/16.0; 9. Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 10.5/17.0; 10. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.3/16.
COMMANDER IN CHIEF INCREASES ITS LEAD
The fourth week of ABC's Commander in Chief improved its ratings Tuesday night as it posted a 12.4 rating and an 18 share, making it the most-watched show of the night. Despite the series' success, producer Steven Bochco has been called in to act as its "show runner," displacing Rod Lurie, its creator. The New York Times reported last week that the reason for the change-of-command was concern over production delays that threatened to force the network to air reruns during the all-important November sweeps next month. During the same hour, NBC's My Name Is Earl drew an 8.4/12, the lowest yet for the sitcom.
ONE SPONSOR FOR SUNDAY'S 60 MINUTES
CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday will resemble a show produced during the early days of television when a single advertiser sponsored programs and when viewers saw only a single ad during a commercial break. Sunday's program will be presented in its entirety by Philips Electronics, which is paying about $2 million to be the sole sponsor -- about what all of its advertisers together would spend, according to today's (Wednesday) Wall Street Journal. As a result, each segment of the magazine show will be lengthened, allowing for "more content and less clutter" in the words of executive producer Jeff Fager. The program will include 6 1/2 minutes of ads for Philips, network promotions and local-station ads, instead of the usual 12 minutes. Fager told the Journal that he would gladly do such a deal "every week if I could."
TV REVIEWS: THE COLBERT REPORT
Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a companion piece to The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, drew 1.1 million viewers for its premiere on Monday, about the same number as The Daily Show itself, which preceded it. The audience was more than twice the size of Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn, which aired in the same spot a year ago. Critics generally lavished much praise on the initial show, in which Stephen Colbert plays a pompous news anchor, who's depressingly insecure beneath his public front. Beth Gillin in the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: "What makes the portrayal so funny is that it rings so true, and the show gives Colbert plenty of room to explore the comic tensions between a blowhard anchor and his gooey soft center." Matthew Gilbert in the Boston Globe called Colbert's debut "auspicious," and added: "While Stewart keeps one foot on Earth and rolls his eyes skyward, Colbert skyrockets into absurdity as an out-and-out parody of a celebrity commentator. With his blowhard vocal pattern and patriotic pretenses, he's a living, breathing caricature of Bill O'Reilly." But David Bianculli in the New York Daily News, while approving Colbert's parody of over-produced news programs, expressed disappointment with its avoidance of any issues of the day. "To be too relevant, perhaps, would be stepping on Stewart's toes," he wrote, "but to truly lampoon shows like O'Reilly, The Colbert Report has to mimic and play with not just the visual style of those shows and pundits, but their verbal substance, too." And Maureen Ryan observed in the Chicago Tribune: "The biggest question hanging over The Colbert Report is whether the show's sendup of the pomposity and fear-mongering of cable news blowhards will be as appealing in the long term as the satire of public figures and the news media as a whole in The Daily Show." Kay McFadden in the Seattle Times didn't find even the premiere appealing, writing that "too often, The Colbert Report went to heavy-handed lengths to make sure the audience got jokes that weren't very funny. The effect was like a chapter of Satire for Dummies."
SCIENTOLOGY SUES PARODY WEBSITE
The Church of Scientology has warned a satirical New Zealand website that it will take legal action against it unless it stops using the domain name www.scienTOMogy.info. The website claims it is devoted to "exposing Tom Cruise's moronic behavior in his relentless crusade to promote" Scientology. In an interview with today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, attorney Helena Kobrin, representing the controversial organization, said: "You can't use someone else's trademarks to promote your own agenda. ... Changing one letter is the trick of the infringer to try to get around the law, but the law makes it very clear that you can't do that." However, the courts have held that a trademark may be legally parodied if a reasonable person is not likely to confuse it with the original. The site itself says that it is not connected with the Church of Scientology and offers a link to the actual Scientology site. It also states that it "is purely satirical ... and is completely non-commercial."
VIACOM ADVANCES DATE FOR SPLIT-UP
Viacom has moved up the date on which it plans to split in two. It said Tuesday that the split will be completed by the end of the year instead of in the first quarter of 2006. The company had previously announced that one company, which will continue to be called Viacom Inc., will be composed of the Paramount movie studios; Paramount Home Video; and the company's cable networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, and Comedy Central. It will be headed by Tom Freston. The other company, headed by Les Moonves, will be called CBS Corp. and include CBS and UPN; Paramount Television; Infinity Radio; Paramount Theme Parks, and Viacom Outdoor.
WERE CAA MOGULS SPIED ON?
An ongoing investigation into the activities of private detective Anthony Pellicano may disclose that one or more of the partners at the CAA Agency had hired the detective to spy on colleagues, the New York Times indicated today (Wednesday). According to the report, Kevin Huvane and Brian Lourd, two top partners at the talent agency, were questioned by the FBI last year and asked whether they knew that the then agency head, Michael Ovitz, had hired Pellicano to investigate them and if they knew that their phones had been wiretapped. Ovitz's lawyer, Bart Williams, told the Times that although the FBI had questioned his client, they had not asked him whether he had hired Pellicano to secretly tape Huvane and Lourd. "In fact, it's come to our attention that Mr. Ovitz was taped by Anthony Pellicano," Williams told the Times. "If one thing's become clear to me, it's that Anthony Pellicano consistently peddled information about Michael Ovitz to third parties."
INDIAN MOVIEGOERS PREFER ONLINE TICKET BUYING
Seventy-two percent of Internet users in India prefer to purchase their movie tickets online, according to a survey by Internet and Mobile Association of India. Forty-one percent of those who prefer online ticketing said they prefer to see movies in multiplexes (although there are only 73 multiplexes in the entire country).
WERE-RABBIT HOPS TO BIG OPENING IN U.K.
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit earned more in its first weekend at the British box office than it did in the American, according to the British trade magazine Screen International. The animated film, made by the U.K.'s Aardman Animations, earned $16.6 million in its first weekend, compared with $16 million at the domestic box office. The population of the U.S. is approximately five times that of the U.K.
UNESCO BEATS BACK "CULTURAL IMPERIALISM"
UNESCO, the cultural agency of the United Nations, is expected to pass a convention Thursday aimed at American "cultural imperialism." The measure would allow countries to treat films, TV and music as "cultural exceptions" in trade talks, thus allowing countries to continue to place trade restrictions on them and limit their distribution. According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, the U.S. filed 27 amendments to the measure, which it criticised as "flawed," "ambiguous," and "protectionist." It was backed only by Israel.