IMUS SUSPENDED, BUT STILL ORNERY
A day after receiving a two-week suspension from MSNBC, New York radio station WFAN, and the CBS Radio Network for a racially insensitive quip about the Rutgers women's basketball team, shock jock Don Imus shot back at his critics. Appearing on this morning's Today show on NBC, Imus, while again apologizing for his remarks, attempted to explain that he was jokingly using the kind of language black men often employ to disparage women. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who appeared on the program with Imus -- and demanded that he be fired -- agreed that such language is often used in the black community but that did not excuse Imus. Later, on his radio-TV program -- his suspension does not take effect until the week of April 16 -- Imus said that he had refused to debate Sharpton on the program because he felt that program host Matt Lauer was "going to be on Reverend Sharpton's side." He also complained that the report about the incident that aired on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Monday night was "disgraceful." Meanwhile, there was little mention of the remarks made by Imus's executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, who seemed to instigate the controversial comments during the April 4 broadcast (a video of which quickly found itself onto YouTube and other video websites). McGuirk used language from Spike Lee's School Daze to refer to the women's teams as "Jigaboos versus the Wannabes." Imus's defenders pointed out that the Lee film never touched off a similar uproar. Meanwhile, analysts observed that Imus's future probably depends on how advertisers react to the incident. In an interview with ABC News, Robert Thompson, director of the Center for TV and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said that broadcast executives will now assess "what they expect he can deliver in the future and, if they fire him, who do they put in that time slot? How do they come anywhere close to delivering that same audience?"
DANCING WALTZES TO RATINGS WIN
ABC's Dancing With the Stars once again danced off with top ratings Monday night, but the return of the much-taken-for-granted The King of Queens kept CBS in the ratings race. The first hour of Dancing at 8:00 p.m. registered an 11.9 rating and a 19 share, while the final segment at 9:00 posted a 12.6/19. The network's ratings plunged with the start of The Bachelor, which followed, drawing only a 6.7/10 against an 8.6/13 for The King of Queens. Meanwhile, the premiere of NBC's improv comedy Thank God You're Here opened with a third-place 5.8/9, falling in the 10:00 p.m. hour to a 4.4/7.
TRAGEDY STRIKES COMEDY REALITY SERIES
Joseph Simmons, the father on MTV's Run's House, said that he rejected a suggestion by MTV executives not to include scenes of the birth of daughter Justine's baby, who died two hours after being delivered. "How could I let the TV cameras in when me and my family were out bowling and laughing and not let them in when we suffering and grieving? Life does not work like that,'' Simmons, founder of the rap group Run-D.M.C., told Newsweek magazine. The scenes appeared in Monday night's episode. Although the actual birth was not recorded, the reaction by Justine's other children was. "This is reality in its most unhappy form," Newsweek commented, asking whether the family isn't "exploiting their own tragedy?" Simmons concedes that the show will likely draw more viewers, but he said it will also show how the family had to get on with their lives. "This is not just reality TV," he said, "this is honesty TV."
NBC GIVES CRITICALLY PRAISED BARKER THE BOOT
Not all critically praised but ratings-challenged TV shows this season wind up being renewed. After NBC extended the lives of 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights, it has effectively killed off Conan O'Brien's Andy Barker, PI, starring Andy Richter. (It will air the final two episodes on Saturday.) When New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan reviewed the show last month, she remarked that with Rock and Lights, NBC was presenting shows "so engrossing and so creatively untrammeled that it's almost suspicious. Have the rules of network TV changed? Does no one need to make money anymore? We may be in a golden age. Watch these shows while you still can, meaning now."