ABC'S LOSSES ARE CBS'S GAIN

CBS regained the title of most-watched network last week after ABC had to do without Dancing With the Stars, which has ended its current run, and Desperate Housewives, which has gone into hiatus due to the writers' strike. NBC also savored a week to boast about as it won Sunday and Monday and tied for first place on Tuesday. For the week, CBS averaged a 6.6 rating and an 11 share. ABC slipped to second place with a 5.7/9. NBC was close behind with a 5.2/8, while Fox trailed with a 4.1/6.

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

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 11.6/17; 1. (Tie) Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 11.6/18; 3. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.6/17; 4. ABC Premiere Event: Mitch Albom's For One More Day, ABC, 8.3/13; 4. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.3/14; 6. Survivor: China, CBS, 8.2/13; 7. NBC Sunday Night Football, NBC, 8.1/13; 8. Law and Order: SVU, NBC, 8.0/13; 9. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC, 7.7/11; 10. Barbara Walters Presents, ABC, 7.6/13; 10. (Tie) Cold Case, CBS, 7.6/11; 10. (Tie) Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, CBS, 7.6/12.

HOW COSTLY IS STRIKE TO WRITERS?

The Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers has posted a counter on its website indicating that the strike has thus far cost writers $104.56 million. The figure is based on the writers' own estimate of overall compensation in 2006 of $1.05 billion. The counter is apparently aimed at validating critics of the strike who have argued that it is likely to cost writers more than they can ever hope to gain even if their demands are met. (The WGA claims that its proposals for new media will cost the studios $151 million over the next three years.) Meanwhile, today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times reported that dissension has arisen in the writers' ranks among members who are unhappy that the negotiations were sidetracked by "secondary" issues, including the WGA negotiators' demands for jurisdiction over reality show producers and writers of animated series. Negotiators for the writers, however, claim that the talks did not break up over those issues and that the studios claim that they did was, in the words of one WGA leader, "a ploy by the AMPTP ... to divide us."

WGA TO ALLOW WRITER FOR SAG AWARDS SHOW

The Screen Actors Guild has received a waiver from the Writers Guild of America allowing it to use a writer for its annual awards show on January 27. However, the WGA said it has not made a decision on whether to grant similar waivers in the case of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards telecasts. "For the time being, it's too preliminary to forecast," a WGA West spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. The Globes telecast, however, is scheduled to take place on January 13, two weeks earlier than the SAG affair. (In a related matter, it was announced Tuesday that U.K. satellite broadcaster BSkyB will carry the Golden Globes telecast live for the first time.)

CHASE TO TESTIFY IN LAWSUIT BROUGHT BY JUDGE OVER SOPRANOS

The Sopranos creator, David Chase, is expected to testify in New Jersey this week in a federal lawsuit brought by former judge Robert Baer who claims that he was responsible for providing Chase with the idea for the HBO series and in developing the central characters. While acknowledging that he met with Baer and talked to him about matters related to gangland characters in New Jersey, Chase maintains that the judge's contributions were insignificant. The Smoking Gun website has posted Chase's "court certification" about the origins of the show, in which he notes that his family name was originally DeCesare; that he grew up fascinated with the movie gangster classic Public Enemy and watched The Untouchables on TV; that he followed Mafia activities in the Newark Evening News; that at 14, the mob was the subject of his oral presentation in speech class; and that his own family had "tenuous links" to the Mafia.

ABC SHIFTS STOSSEL INTERVIEW TO WEB

ABC has decided not to air an interview with Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul by 20/20 co-host John Stossel and instead present it as an online "exclusive." Paul advocates the kind of libertarian approach to many issues that Stossel appears to support. The network's decision aroused anger among Paul's supporters. On the liberal Huffington Post blog, Matt Simon, who heads a New Hampshire organization that advocates marijuana-law reform, asked, "If ABC claims to be operating in the public interest, on what grounds can it reasonably suppress this unusually thought-provoking interview?" (The interview could fall under the FCC's Equal Time rule, requiring the network to provide free time to Paul's rivals.) As Stossel notes in his online introduction to the interview, Paul has been effective in raising awareness of his candidacy -- and raising campaign funds -- on the Internet. On ABC's 20/20 message board, one Paul supporter wrote, "The truly sad thing is that ABC won't air this on television. We on the Web know Ron Paul's views and beliefs, so why are they wasting time here when he could be on TV being much more effective in spreading his ideas?" Another wrote, "My grandmother is very interested in Ron Paul and doesn't have access to the Internet! This is outrageous that ABC won't air the interview."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.