DISNEY MOVIE IS YEAR'S BIGGEST CABLE-TV DRAW
Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie drew 11.4 million viewers Friday night, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast of the year on cable TV. The show also outdrew every other program airing on TV Friday night -- broadcast or cable, attracting nearly twice the number of viewers who tuned in to the Washington Redskins/New England Patriots preseason football game, which pulled in 5.96 million viewers. Wizards is the second-most-watched Disney Channel program, exceeded only by last year's High School Musical 2, which drew 17.2 million viewers.
MOST EXPENSIVE SPOTS ON TV STILL SELLING FAST
Despite widespread advertiser cutbacks elsewhere, CBS has already sold 65 percent of its commercial availabilities for next February's Super Bowl, Mediaweek reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources. The trade publication observed that at this same time last year, NBC had already sold 85 percent of its inventory. "I'm very comfortable with where we are right now," JoAnn Ross, president of network sales at CBS, told the trade publication.
BROADCAST AD SALES DOWN 12.8 PERCENT
Total broadcast TV ad revenue was down 12.8 percent in the second quarter versus last year, the Television Bureau of Advertising said Friday, basing its figures on estimates proved by TNS Media Intelligence. Local broadcast ad sales were down the most -- 27 percent, while syndication was down just 1.5 percent. Revenue at the broadcast networks was down 5.8 percent. All broadcasters were particularly affected by the turmoil in the automotive sector. Automobile ads were down 54.5 percent from a year ago. (Chrysler cut its ad buying by 73.8 percent.)
GUIDING LIGHT: A LAST HURRAH
Guiding Light is fading out brightly. Actor Jeff Branson tied for best supporting actor in the Daytime Emmy Awards Saturday. Backstage, he called the award "bittersweet," as he observed that the CBS show will be leaving the air after this season after 72 years on radio and TV. Branson tied with Vincent Irizarry, who appears on ABC's All My Children, who himself got his start as a soap-opera actor on Guiding Light. "I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of television history," Irizarry told reporters back stage. "What other medium is producing product that lasts 72 years? It has entertained not only generations, but employed generations of people." (All My Children will celebrate its 40th anniversary in January.) In a Guiding Light tribute, more than 30 actors who have appeared on the show took the stage and received a standing ovation. The tribute was introduced by Betty White, who herself has been a TV fixture for nearly 60 years. The top soap-opera Emmy went to CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful.. Christian LeBlanc of The Young and the Restless and Susan Haskell of ABC's One Life to Live took the two primary acting awards. Among other awards, Meredith Vieira was named top game-show host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The talk-show host awards went to the panel members of The View, and a Lifetime Achievement award went to the cast of Sesame Street.
TODAY HIRES BUSH DAUGHTER JENNA
Today show executive producer Jim Bell has hired former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager as a part-time correspondent based in Washington. Bell said that he had contacted Hager after being impressed with her appearances on the program. She "just sort of popped to us as a natural presence, comfortable" on the air, Bell told the Associated Press. Hager herself sounded casual about her selection. "It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do," she said. "But I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change." She said she plans to continue working as a teacher in Baltimore.
REALITY SHOW CONTESTANT DIES DURING PRODUCTION
The practice of assigning increasingly difficult -- and often dangerous -- challenges to reality-show contestants culminated on Aug. 19, when a contestant on a Pakistani reality show drowned in a lake in Bangkok during the filming of an episode, the Associated Press reported Sunday. The death was not officially disclosed until the body of the contestant, Saad Khan, 32, was returned to his home in Karachi. According to the A.P. account, Khan had been challenged to swim across a lake wearing a 15-pound backpack. He reportedly called out for help, before disappearing underwater. Although fellow contestants attempted to come to his aid, they later said that the water was too murky to spot him. Divers later recovered the body. Unilever Pakistan, the show's sponsor, said that while it did not have a hand in the production of the show, it would nevertheless provide for Khan's wife and children "out of rightness."