LENO GETS A PASS FROM WGA
In a case of being conspicuous by omission, Jay Leno has been cleared of violating the Writers Guild's rules when he wrote his monologue during the WGA strike that began in November 2007 and ended in February 2008. The WGA sent members a message on Tuesday in which it presented the final decision of the trial committee that heard allegations against members who were accused of violating union rules by writing during the strike. It said that it took action against two members and one non-member. Leno was not among them. Members of the union had filed complaints against Leno for allegedly scabbing during the strike when he returned to the air as host of NBC's Tonight show in January 2008. In February of this year, Leno was brought before the trial committee and questioned about his writing activity during the strike. The decision of the committee not to take action against him is certain to revive the internecine battle within the union between members who believe it knuckled under to producers and those who believe the strike was ill-advised to begin with and was counter-productive. Many are rankled over the probability that Leno's new nightly show, which debuts on September 14, will contribute to the reduction of scripted programming on NBC, putting more writers out of work.
RADAR CATCHES OCTOMOM IN ITS SCOPE
Radar Online, which has led a shaky four-year existence since it emerged out of a lively print publication that failed (twice), may finally have found its calling -- as a producer of provocative TV news specials. Now a unit of American Media, which publishes the two leading U.S. tabloids, the National Enquirer and Star, Radar Online has put together a two-hour special about Nadya Suleman, the so-called Octomom, that it claims will be "jaw dropping." Fox plans to air it on August 19. "The access they got is amazing," Mike Darnell, Fox's head of alternative programming, told the Chicago Tribune. "They basically lived with her." Was she paid? Darnell said that although "we are not legally obligated," an account "in the six figures" was set up for Suleman's kids. In its report about the special, the New York Times commented that it "could reignite debate over the well-being of the children and the news media frenzy that surrounded their births."
ABC'S RATINGS FALL TO HISTORIC LOW
With The Bachelorette having concluded its summer run, ABC was left floundering in the ratings last week -- posting last-place averages among viewers overall and also among adults 18-49. Among the former group, ABC posted a 2.2 average rating; among the latter, a 1.1 rating. Today's (Wednesday) New York Times observed that only once had a broadcast network fared so poorly -- and that was a year ago when ABC posted identical ratings. However, the newspaper noted, "that was against the huge attraction of the Summer Olympics on NBC." NBC last week once again landed atop the Nielsen list of most-watched shows with the latest editions of America's Got Talent. Tuesday night's telecast attracted 12.96 million viewers, while Wednesday's drew 10.67 million. Nevertheless, CBS continued to show overall strength, despite the fact that it offered mostly reruns. It averaged a 4.1 rating and a 7 share. NBC followed with a 3.8/7, followed by Fox with a 3.2/6. ABC was literally out of sight with a 2.2/4.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. America's Got Talent (Tuesday), NBC, 7.8/13; 2. NCIS, CBS, 6.5/12; 3. America's Got Talent (Wednesday, 9:00 p.m.), NBC, 6.3/11; 4. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.1/12; 4. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 6.1/10; 6. So You Think Can Dance (Thursday), Fox, 5.7/10; 7. CSI: NY, CBS, 5.6/10; 8. The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 5.4/9; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 5.3/9; 9. The Mentalist, CBS, 5.3/10.
NEWS RATINGS OUTSHINE PRIMETIME
Among the nightly newscasts, the lineup remained fairly static. NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams once again wound up in the lead with 7.57 million viewers, well ahead of most leading primetime programs on any network. ABC's World News With Charles Gibson remained in second place with 6.51 million viewers, while the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric trailed with 5.10 million.
THIRD NIGHT OF MILLIONAIRE IS A SLUMDOG
The return of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is not giving the struggling ABC network any relief. Sunday and Monday's installments drew 7.2 million -- not bad for a summer show but millions below what the Regis Philbin-hosted series drew when it was launched a decade ago. Tuesday's episode, however, tanked, drawing just 5.9 million total viewers and winding up in fourth place behind a repeat of NCIS on CBS; Hell's Kitchen on Fox; and a repeat of America's Got Talent on NBC (in that order).