NBC's telecast of the Beijing Olympics last week left its competition in the dust as each day of coverage took one of the top-seven spots on Nielsen Media Research's ratings list. The "Beijing Closing Party" took an eighth. Overall, the network's primetime coverage averaged 23.3 million viewers with 27.8 million tuning in to Sunday's closing ceremonies. While the ratings of all of the other networks' primetime programs sagged under the weight of the Olympics' audience, the Fox and CBS coverage of preseason football was particularly hard hit, with each game drawing just over 4 million viewers. But the biggest loser of all may have been ABC/Disney's High School Musical: Get in the Picture, which debuted with critics' predictions of a sure-fire hit. But initial ratings for the show proved to be lackluster, and by last week fewer than 2 million viewers tuned in. Commented Washington PostTV writer Lisa de Moraes, "Since July, this show has managed to frighten off almost 50 percent of the crowd that was at least curious enough to watch the first episode."

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

. Summer Olympics (Tuesday), NBC, 16.3/27; 2. Summer Olympics (Monday), NBC, 15.8/26; 3. Summer Olympics (Closing Ceremonies), NBC, 15.5/25; 4. Summer Olympics (Wednesday), NBC, 15.2/26; 5. Summer Olympics (Thursday), NBC, 13.8/23; 6. Beijing Closing Party, NBC, 12.3/21; 7. Summer Olympics (Friday), NBC, 10.7/19; 8. Summer Olympics (Saturday), NBC, 10.3/19; 9. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 5.3/8; 10. NCIS, CBS, 5.2/9.


The decision by NBC Universal executives to counterposition MSNBC, their cable news station, as a liberal-leaning alternative to Fox News produced political sparks between the channel's anchors Tuesday that threatened to short-circuit their coverage of the Democratic convention. It began when host Joe Scarborough, apparently feeling isolated as the only openly Republican among the channel's lineup -- he is a former Republican Congressman from Florida -- took umbrage when correspondent David Shuster remarked to Scarborough that "your party, the Republican party" scorns those calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Scarborough shot back, "My party loathes me much more than your party, the Democratic party, loathes me." When Shuster attempted to continue, Scarborough interrupted, "What about your party?" Shuster replied, "I have no party. I'm a complete independent." Scarborough scoffed, "Oh, I feel so comforted by the fact that you're an independent. I bet everyone at MSNBC has 'independent' on their voting cards. 'Oh, we're down the middle now.'" Another exchange was replayed on Fox News later in the day, when Scarborough's remarks were interrupted by anchor Keith Olbermann, who seemed to be unaware that his microphone was on when he commented, "Jesus, Joe, why don't you get a shovel?" Fox commentator John Gibson then remarked that Scarborough and Olbermann "are supposed to be colleagues, and everyone around NBC except Tom Brokaw is afraid of Olbermann because of the way he got Dan Abrams fired." (Abrams remains an MSNBC host, but he has been replaced in his primetime slot by Rachel Maddow.)


Motion Picture Association of America chief Dan Glickman and Recording Industry Association of America president Cary Sherman are currently attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver lobbying on behalf of legislation that would create a cabinet-level copyright czar, according to Wired magazine. It quoted spokespersons for the two leaders as saying that they also plan to attend the GOP convention in Minnesota next week.


Stepping up its drive against johnnie-come-lately rivals, TiVo plans to announce an agreement with Entertainment Weeklymagazine that would let TiVo subscribers automatically record programs recommended by the magazine's staff, the Wall Street Journalreported. Terms of the deal between TiVo and the magazine, a publication of Time Warner's Time Inc., were not disclosed. TiVo has a similar deal already in place with Common Sense Media, which suggests programs for kids.