CABLE SHOW OUTDRAWS ALL THE NETWORKS'

NBC's America's Got Talent got No. 1 on the Nielsen ratings list last week, tying with CBS's 60 Minutes but edging out the news magazine in total number of viewers and beating it handily in the key 18-49 adults category. The show drew 10.83 million viewers. However, had cable shows been included in the list, the Disney Channel's High School Musical 2, which drew 17.2 million viewers on Friday -- the largest audience ever to watch a show on basic cable -- would easily have come out on top. Overall, CBS continued to chalk up wins for drawing more viewers to its primetime summer schedule than any other network. However, all of the networks remained in the summer doldrums for the week. CBS averaged only a 4.5 rating and an 8 share. Fox placed second with an average 3.8/7. NBC was close behind with a 3.5/6, while ABC trailed with a 3.0/5.The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. America's Got Talent, NBC, 6.6/12; 1. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.6/12; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 6.4/11; 4. Without a Trace, CBS, 6.3/11; 5. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 6.1/10; 6. So You Think Can Dance (Thursday) , Fox, 5.9/10; 7. NCIS, CBS, 5.8/10; 7. Singing Bee, NBC, 5.8/10; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 5.7/10; 9. CSI: NY, CBS, 5.7/10; 9. Hell's Kitchen, Fox, 5.7/9.

AUTHORITIES PROBING CBS'S KID NATION

CBS on Tuesday defended itself against mounting criticism that the network may have violated child labor laws and placed children at risk during the production of the forthcoming reality show Kid Nation. Following a complaint by one of the 40 children who participated in the series -- in which kids create their own "society" in a town in New Mexico -- CBS sent a statement to the Los Angeles Times disputing the "course of action being taken by one parent in distorting the true picture of the Kid Nation experience." The statement insisted that CBS and the producers had instituted safety procedures "that arguably rival or surpass any school or camp in the country." The network has argued that child labor laws did not apply to the production because the children, ages 8-15, were not employees of the production company. "The cameras are following people through an experience," a CBS lawyer said, adding that the $5,000 that each of them received (plus additional amounts for competitions) was "not tied to specific output or tasks." Nevertheless, today's New York Times reported that the New Mexico attorney general's office sent a warning to producers while the show was being taped that they might be violating child-labor laws.

COURIC BIOGRAPHY DEPICTS HER AS PRIMA DONNA

Writer Edward Klein's unauthorized biography of Katie Couric includes charges that she deliberately undercut colleagues on the Today show -- restricting Ann Curry's interview assignments and deliberately prolonging her own interviews so that they would eat into Matt Lauer's airtime. Unveiling excerpts from the book, Katie: The Real Story, due to be published next Tuesday, the New York Daily News said that it contains the allegation that Lauer threatened to quit Today if NBC renewed Couric's $65-million contract. The book also says that since the precipitous decline in the ratings for the CBS Evening News, Couric's editorial control over the program has diminished. Meanwhile, Couric's predecessor, Dan Rather, said during an interview on Fox News Tuesday that Couric's job is safe so long as Les Moonves remains the head of CBS. "Katie Couric was his hire and you can bet that he will play defense as hard as he possibly can," Rather said.

NO AVOIDING ADS ON NEW YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Hinting at a possible solution to the question of how to put television shows on the Internet and get viewers not to skip commercials, YouTube said Tuesday that it will begin offering professionally produced videos in which ads are overlaid on the bottom 20 percent of the picture. The ads will be featured on some user-generated videos as well, with the producers in all cases sharing the revenue with YouTube.

FANTASIA: FIRST IDOL TO BECOME BROADWAY STAR

Fantasia Barrino has become the first American Idol winner to prove her worth on Broadway. Reporting on her success since taking on the role of Celie in the musical production of The Color Purple in April, the Associated Press observed today (Wednesday) that Fantasia has "revitalized" the show, "boosted a box office that had started to slump and, some say, improved a successful commercial production that was lacking critically." Scott Sanders, one of the show's producers, told the A.P.: "When you bring in someone who is a household name, it brings out the cynics who think that it is just stunt casting and those who actually understand that she is a very talented woman who is going to take a big leap. ... It's turned out to be an incredible win for everyone." Because she found playing her role so taxing, Fantasia told the wire service, she had been reluctant to sign on for an additional four months. She was persuaded to do so, she says, by the intervention of Oprah Winfrey, one of the show's producers. "She just began to tell me how much I touched her and all the things that she felt," she said.

TRIBUNE SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE SALE

As expected, Tribune Co. shareholders have approved the proposed $8.2 billion buyout of their company by financier Sam Zell. The company owns numerous newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times as well as 23 TV stations, including Los Angeles powerhouse KABC-TV. Shares of the company rose nearly $1 Thursday, closing at $27.98. The company's stock has been hit fiercely in recent weeks, dropping as low as $25.26. Zell's bid amounts to $35 per share. He said Tuesday that he expects to remain in the deal. "Despite the recent upheaval in the credit markets, my view of the company as an investment has not changed," Zell said in a statement.

STANLEY MYRON HANDELMAN DEAD AT 77

Comedian Stanley Myron Handelman, a frequent guest on variety and talk shows in the '60s and '70s, and a fixture in Las Vegas for many years, died in Panorama City, CA on August 5 following a heart attack, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday).

Brian B.