TALENT SHOWS TAKE THE LEAD

Their ratings numbers may have paled compared with those for American Idol, but the summer-season finales of NBC's America's Got Talent and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance drew some of the biggest audiences of the summer. The "results" show of Talent and the final "performance" show the night before were the top-rated entertainment shows of the week, according to Nielsen Research. Nevertheless, they ended up behind CBS's 60 Minutes, which, due to a ratings anomaly, actually drew a smaller audience. The two-hour finale of Dance came in at No. 5. For the week. CBS once again headed the list with an average 5.0 rating and a 9 share. NBC placed second with a 4.3/8. Fox was close behind with a 4.1/7, while ABC trailed with a 3.9/7.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. 60 Minutes, CBS, 7.8/15; 2. America's Got Talent (Thursday), NBC, 7.3/12; 3. America's Got Talent (Wednesday), NBC, 7.2/12; 3. (tie) CSI: Miami, CBS, 7.2/12; 4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 7.1/12; 5. So You Think Can Dance (Wednesday), Fox, 6.7/11; 6. Without a Trace (Thursday), CBS, 6.7/12; 8. House, Fox, 6.6/11; 8. (tie) Without a Trace (Sunday), CBS, 6.6/11; 10. Cold Case, CBS, 6.3/10.

BIOPIC ABOUT IDOL CONTESTANT PULLS HUGE RATINGS

A biopic about former American Idol contestant Fantasia Barrino was watched by 6.6 million viewers on the Lifetime Television cable channel in its debut last week and by an additional 12.4 million by the time reruns played out during the week. The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, ranked second for the week with a 5.0 cable rating, behind the 5.6 rating for TNT's The Closer. Also performing strongly on cable for the week was Comedy Central's Roast of William Shatner, which drew 4 million viewers.

ECHOSTAR LOSES ANOTHER COURT BATTLE

EchoStar Communications, already reeling from a court decision that many of its settop digital recorders violated TiVo's patents, lost another major legal battle Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay a lower-court order requiring EchoStar's DISH Network to stop offering subscribers signals from stations outside their local markets. At least 630,000 DISH subscribers are reportedly affected by the ruling. In a statement, EchoStar said that it would "continue to explore every possible option available to avoid unnecessary disruption to our customers who watch distant network channels."

GMA LANDS INTERVIEW WITH KARR'S EX-WIFE

In its mano-a-mano battle with NBC's morning leader, the Today show, Good Morning America has scored a major "get," landing an interview with with Quintana Shotts, an ex-wife of John Mark Karr, the man who confessed last week to killing JonBenet Ramsey. Shotts married Karr in 1984 when she was 13 and he was 19 but filed for an annulment nine months later, saying in her complaint that she was "fearful for her life and safety." The interview was scheduled to air today (Wednesday). Meanwhile, it was announced Tuesday that Sam Champion, the dapper weatherman for WABC-TV, ABC's owned station in New York, will become the "weather anchor" and "weather editor" for GMA beginning Sept. 5, the same day that Chris Cuomo is due to make his debut on the morning show as its news anchor.

COURT ORDERS PROBE OF CBS NEWS STORY

Federal Judge Thomas Ellis III has ordered the Justice Department to determine how CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl got information about an FBI investigation into the alleged leak of classified information to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAF), from "a mole working at the highest levels of the Pentagon," the New York Sun reported Tuesday. On the same day that the report aired, Aug. 27, 2004, the FBI confronted the two men, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were charged with conspiracy to acquire classified information. The court-ordered investigation triggered concern by First Amendment advocates. Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Sun that a pattern has emerged: "Justice goes back and ... gets affidavits from everyone saying, 'No. It wasn't me." Then, the court would demand that "Lesley Stahl or her producer identify who their confidential source is." Commenting on the Sun's report, Vaughn Ververs, who runs the CBS blog Public Eye, said, "The ongoing trend of investigators trying to force reporters to give up confidential sources looks like it may end up hitting closer to home for us."

TV GUIDE CHANNEL PLUGS JOAN RIVERS' 1000TH RED-CARPET INTERVIEW

Although some may wonder who's been doing the counting, TV Guide Channel said Tuesday that Joan and Melissa Rivers will be conducting their 1000th red-carpet interview Sunday during the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. (They'll begin at No. 982.) "Don't miss an unforgettable Hollywood moment," the channel said in a news release. ... Tune-in for all the fashion hits and misses, along with unpredictable and hilarious commentary from Joan and Melissa."

FROST'S TV INTERVIEW WITH NIXON BECOMES HIT PLAY

On the heels of George Clooney's successful film drama about the clash between CBS News personality Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph McCarthy on television in 1954, a successful stage drama has been mounted in London about the 1977 TV encounter between former President Richard M. Nixon and British interviewer David Frost. The play, Frost/Nixon, which has a limited run through Oct. 7, stars Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. Theater critic Nicholas de Jongh, writing in the Evening Standard, gives the play high praise and singles out Langella for special acclaim, calling his performance "amazing ... one which nobody interested in great acting should miss." Michael Billington in the Guardian also lauds the performances, and concludes: "I felt I had not only got a glimpse into the characters but became nostalgic for an era when television itself had a theatrical weight and power." Television screens in the back of the stage play an important role in the play itself. Looking at the live Nixon on stage, he appears "composed," Simon Edge notes in the Daily Express, but looking at him as a television camera captures him in closeup, "he is red-faced, sweaty and bug-eyed ... [revealing] the reductive power of a TV close-up. It is perfectly done." Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph concludes that Frost/Nixon "memorably nails the moment when politics and showbiz became inextricably intertwined."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.