VIEWERS RETURN TO THEIR SETS FOR OLYMPICS

NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games is driving many viewers back to their television sets, according to an analysis of Nielsen ratings by Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting and reported in today's (Friday) New York Times. According to the study, NBC's average nightly primetime audience of 28.7 million is not only made up of viewers who have abandoned their regular programs on the other networks but also by viewers who do not ordinarily watch broadcast television. The Times quoted Jack Wakshlag, head of research for Turner, as saying, "Almost 40 percent of the viewing is coming from increased people-using-television (PUT) levels." Wakshlag added, "There aren't that many events that drive PUT levels. ... The Super Bowl does it for a night. This has done it for several nights."

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD SINGER TO PERFORM ENCORE -- LIVE

The two children at the heart of the Beijing Olympics bigXgest cheating scandal -- when one lip-synched a song recorded by the other at the opening ceremonies -- will make an appearance together on stage during the closing ceremonies, the Hong Kong Standard reported today (Friday), citing unidentified organizers. An official told the newspaper that, given the original controversy, having the two girls, Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke, appear together for the August 24 production would be in the "national interest" of China. At the Aug. 8 opening production, seven-year-old Yang was reportedly removed from the show and replaced by nine-year-old Lin because the older girl looked prettier. Yang's recording of the song "I Sing for My Country" was lip-synched by Lin, setting off a barrage of international criticism. The Standard also said that the closing show will include a duet by Placido Domingo ߷and Chinese singer Song Zuying and a performance by "a 350-man kung-fu troupe."

WITH OLYMPICS, TELEMUNDO'S RATINGS SOAR -- BUT UNIVISION STILL DOMINATES

NBC-owned Spanish-language Telemundo has increased its audience more than 20 percent since it began primetime coverage of the Summer Olympics. Nevertheless, its viewing audience remained dwarfed by rival Univision. Telemundo said Thursday that its audience was averaging about 451,000 viewers a night. Telemundo President Don Browne said in a statement, "The response from our viewers clearly confirms that our sports division is delivering the most relevant and engaging Spanish-language Olympics coverage to U.S. Hispanics." Nevertheless, the Olympics were no match for Univision's hit telenovela Al Diablo Con Los Guapos (rough translation: Let the Handsome Go to the Devil), which drew 5.1 million viewers on Monday night, 4.8 million on Tuesday and Wednesday, 4.6 million on Thursday, and 4.2 million on Friday.

SECOND-PLACE IDOL CONTESTANT AHEAD IN RECORD SALES

David Archuleta, who was thought to be a sure bet to win last season's American Idol -- but came in second to David Cook -- may be beating Cook where it counts -- in record sales. Billboard magazine has placed Archuleta's debut single "Crush" in second place on its Hot 100 singles chart. That bested the third-place debut of Cook's "The Time of My Life" in June. The trade publication observed that "Crush" marked the biggest bow by an Idol contestant for a song never performed on the show. The two Davids are due to challenge one another again in November when their first album CDs are released.

FOX NEWS BARS CONSERVATIVE AD

Despite its reputation as a conservative political platform, Fox News Channel has turned down an ad by American Issues Project, a conservative nonprofit group, that attacks Barack Obama's connection to William Ayers, a member of the radical Weatherman groupۙ during the Vietnam War era. The Associated Press reported Thursday that a Fox News spokesperson had confirmed that the news channel had declined to run the ad but would not say why. The ad includes the line, "Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?" Obama has previously said that he deplored Ayers's actions during the '60s and that by the time he met him he was a University of Illinois professor. He said he had served on a board with him that also included "Republicans, bankers, lawyers."

BROKAW ANCHORS AGAIN

Tom Brokaw will be returning to nightly news anchoring beginning Monday when he takes over the 4:00-5:00 p.m. hour on MSNBC during the Democratic and Republican conventions. The NBC-owned cable news network released details of its planned coverage Thursday indicating that it plans to devote 20 hours per day to live coverage of each of the party gatherings. The conventions will also mark the debut of Rachel Maddow's program in primetime. Dan Abrams has been moved to the 11:00 a.m. hour.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR DALLAS REUNION

Tickets to attend the Nov. 8 reunion of the cast of Dallas went on sale today at $100 to $1,000 apiece, the Dallas Morning News reported. The newspaper did not indicate what a $1,000 ticket would buy that a $100 ticket would not, nor did it indicate who would be receiving the profits. Stars of the show, including Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy are due to attend the bash at the Parker ranch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the show's debut.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.