NO OLYMPICS, BUT NBC STAYS ON TOP

The ratings weren't quite Olympian, but NBC managed to dominate all three hours of primetime Wednesday night, first with a two-hour edition of America's Got Talent, which averaged 10.13 million viewers, peaking in the final half hour with 10.65 million, then going on to attract 5.63 million for its coverage of the Democratic National Convention at 10:00 p.m.. Somewhat surprisingly given its usual last-place finish, CBS News's convention coverage came in second with 3.59 million viewers, while ABC News's attracted 3.31 million.

ABC UNVEILS FIVE NEW SHOWS

Although some network executives had decided to forego the time-consuming and costly process of filming pilots for prospective new shows and instead go on "gut instinct" on what would likely be popular, ABC decided to stick pretty much with the same shows it aired last season. (The debuting exceptions: Life on Mars, Opportunity Knocks, and the animated The Goode Family.) However, on Wednesday, it said that it had ordered five series that would likely be introduced at mid-season and that it would probably add other shows to that list. ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said in a statement, "It was worth taking the time to go through the pilot process to really do it right." The network unveiled three new dramas -- Castle, Cupid and The Unusuals -- and two new comedies -- Better Off Ted and Single With Parents.

THE CW UNZIPS 90210

Just days after the Parents Television Council, the group campaigning for tighter "decency" standards on network television, accused the CW network of refusing to make available screeners of its upcoming 90210 series in advance so that advertisers could determine whether the content was suitable, the CW said that only TV critics would be unable to view the show prior to its debut. Advertising Age quoted a CW spokesman as saying, "We never said the show would not go through the normal channels. It will be going through the normal screening services before it premieres on Sept. 2."

ABC NEWS PRODUCER ARRESTED IN DENVER

A reporter/producer for Brian Ross's ABC News investigative unit was arrested in Denver Wednesday while he and a cameraman were taking pictures of Democratic senators attending the Democratic convention meeting with potential campaign donors. The arrest of Asa Eslocker was captured by his cameraman and was featured on ABC's World News With Charles Gibson -- and the clip was quickly posted on numerous websites. Eslocker's arrest took place on the sidewalk in front of the Brown Palace Hotel, which claimed that the sidewalk is private property and that Eslocker was trespassing (although several pedestrians are also seen walking on the sidewalk). Eslocker was apparently unaware of the hotel's claim to ownership of the sidewalk because he is seen exclaiming to an officer pushing him away, "I was on public property on the sidewalk!" ABC later reported that Eslocker had been charged with trespass, interference with a police officer, and failure to follow a lawful order. He was released later after posting $500 bail. In an interview with the Washington Post, ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said, "We expect to see this kind of behavior in Myanmar, not in Denver, Colorado, at a national political convention where a reporter is trying to videotape big-money donors trying to meet with elected officials."

PHELPS TO MAKE ACTING DEBUT ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

NBC is riding the popularity wave of this year's Olympic Games past last weekend's closing ceremonies -- with the event's winningest contestant, swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps made his first post-Olympics appearance this week on the Tonight show with Jay Leno, and on Wednesday it was announced that he will be making his acting debut while hosting the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on September 13. In addition, the network announced that it plans to air three live hours of the SNL news satire "Weekend Update" on three Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. in October prior to the presidential election.

NBC APOLOGIZES TO GAY GOLD-MEDAL WINNER

NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel has apologized to Australian gold-medal winner Matthew Mitcham for not profiling the openly gay diver during the network's coverage or showing his partner in the stands at the time of his victory. "We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham's story. We apologize for this unintentional omission," Zenkel said.

PICKENS WINS ROUND AGAINST NBC

NBC on Wednesday denied that it had refused to air a commercial by Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens that calls for the conversion of U.S. automobiles to natural gas in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In a letter to NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, Pickens had written, "We are puzzled by your decision not to run this ad because by not running it, you are selectively applying the First Amendment and denying your viewers access to information that is important to their education and understanding of the issue of energy independence." Pickens' letter was followed by one from his lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg, expressing "profound disappointment and deep puzzlement" over the rejection of the ad and asking the network to reconsider. Late Wednesday, however, NBC said that it had approved the ad and that Pickens's letter had been "premature."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.