i>DEAL DRAWS MORE VIEWERS THAN DEMS

Those who were expecting the Democratic convention in Denver to be a cut-and-dried affair were controverted Monday night by the poignant appearance of Senator Ted Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, at the podium to endorse the Obama-Biden ticket. As television cameras panned the crowd of delegates, many of whom were wiping away tears, Kennedy declared "Nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight." The first day of the convention turned into a tribute to veteran Massachusetts senator, which included the showing of a film, directed by documentary maker Ken Burns, about Kennedy's career, and remarks by Caroline Kennedy, who introduced her "Uncle Teddy" to the crowd. NBC drew the most viewers for the first-night coverage with an audience of 4.85 million. ABC was second with 3.78 million, followed by CBS with 3.52 million. Combined, the three networks attracted 12.15 million viewers. Earlier in the evening the season premiere of NBC's Deal or No Deal drew more viewers -- 12.30 million. (Cable ratings for the convention were not immediately available.)

26.3 MILLION WATCH OLYMPICS CLOSE

Sunday night's closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics drew 26.3 million viewers, up 27 percent over the the closing night of the Athens Olympics in 2004 and 38 percent over the Sydney Olympics in 2000, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. The ratings service also confirmed that the NBC telecasts turned out to be the most-watched event in U.S. television history, beating the Atlanta Olympics of 1996 by 11 percent, with 214 million tuning in at one point or another during the 17-day event. An average of 27.7 million viewers watched each night.

IDOL TO SEAT FOURTH JUDGE

American Idol producers, who had vowed to spruce up the show to lure back viewers, announced the first of its changes on Monday -- the addition of a permanent fourth judge, songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Although the final nights of last season's competition remained among the season's highest-rated shows, many of the earlier episodes were well below the series' average audience. (Nevertheless it averaged 28.1 million viewers, higher than the average audience for last week's Olympic Games.) In its report about DioGuardi's addition to the judging panel, Reuters commented Monday, "Self-assured with a matter-of-fact, no-nonsense style, DioGuardi is expected to provide a counterweight to the sometimes gushy, even vacuous on-air persona of [singer Paula] Abdul." Abdul later said during a radio interview, "I am concerned about the audience and acceptance." Speaking with reporters on Monday DioGuardi remarked, "I'm just somebody who's really honest and gives my opinion, and if I feel the need to be hard with someone in order to get that across, I will be. And if I feel I need to be softer and more nurturing with some of the contestants, I'll be that."

WINFREY REMAINS TOP-PAID TV PERSONALITY

No one comes close to rivaling Oprah Winfrey as the highest paid talk-show personality. In the latest Forbes magazine list, Winfrey holds the top spot with $275 million a year, nearly four times the amount that the second person on the list, radio shock-jock Howard Stern, earns each year ($75 million). Third place wound up in a tie between David Letterman and Judge Judy Sheindlin, who each earned about $45 million, while Dr. Phil McGrath rounded out the top 5 with $40 million.

PTA WANTS TO KNOW WHAT'S IN 90210

The Parents Television Council, which single-handedly launched the letter-writing campaign that induced the Federal Communications Commission to intensify its regulation of television indecency, has suggested that the CW has not screened the pilot episode of the new 90210 series because it contains scenes that the network doesn't want sponsors to know about. The PTC is currently campaigning against the CW's Gossip Girl. (The CW is actually using quotes from the PTC's attacks in its ads to promote the show.) In a statement, the CW said, "Withholding the advance screener for 90210 has nothing to do with content concerns and everything to do with strategic marketing for the most anticipated new show of the fall season."

Brian B.