"WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM ..."

All three major networks interrupted their programming at 8:30 a.m. this morning (Thursday) to present special reports on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The TVNewser website reported that NBC's report from correspondent Jim Maceda in London was simulcast on MSNBC and included comments from Ann Curry who interviewed Bhutto in October days after she survived another attempt on her life. The NBC and ABC reports ended at 8:41 a.m. CBS initially aired a three-minute report, then returned to the story at 8:40, just as the others were wrapping it up. The BBC reported the assassination on its website at 8:35 a.m., saying that she was killed in an apparent suicide attack after she had addressed an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi.

NFL ALLOWS PATRIOTS-GIANTS GAME TO AIR ON TWO NETWORKS

The NFL relented Wednesday and said that it would allow its NFL Network coverage of Saturday's New England Patriots/New York Giants game to be simulcast on both CBS and NBC. The Patriots are aiming to end the season without a loss. "We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game." The NFL's action came after some congressional lawmakers had threatened to reconsider the league's antitrust exemption.

CBS WINS PRE-CHRISTMAS WEEK

During a pre-Christmas week of mostly reruns and light viewing, CBS took eight of the top-ten positions in the Nielsen ratings race. The other two were held by NBC.

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

1. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9.5/16; 2. NBC Sunday Night Football, NBC, 8.7/14; 3. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.4//18; 4. NCIS, CBS, 8.2/14; 5. CSI: NY, CBS, 7.7/13; 6. Two and a Half Men (special), CBS, 7.5/12; 7. Criminal Minds, CBS, 7.4/12; 8. Biggest Loser 4, NBC, 7.2/11; 8. (Tie) Two and a Half Men, CBS, 7.2/11; 8. (Tie) Without a Trace, CBS, 7.2/14.

LETTERMAN TO RETURN -- "WITH OR WITHOUT WRITERS"

David Letterman is expected to announce today (Thursday) that he will return to the air on January 2 with or without his writers, the New York Post reported today. The newspaper suggested that Rob Burnett, who heads Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, had been unable to negotiate a deal with the Writers Guild of America that would have allowed writers to return to work on the show. Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel have each said that they plan to return to the air without writers on January 2.

MEDIA STOCK UNAFFECTED BY STRIKE

The current writers' strike has had virtually no effect on stock prices of the major media companies, Daily Variety observed today (Thursday), noting that Wall Street expects the companies to emerge stronger as a result of its current stand. The trade publication observed that as the strike began, most media stocks were already trading at historic lows because investors, unlike writers, have failed to discern the potential for much profitability for the companies from the Internet.

RADIOHEAD TO DEBUT NEW CD ON TV, INTERNET

The English rock band Radiohead, which offered its latest CD In Rainbows online last month for whatever downloaders were willing to pay, will perform music from the album on New Year's Eve on cable channel Current TV and the website Current.com, Billboard magazine reported Wednesday. The performance will initially be broadcast at midnight and then be repeated three times on New Year's Day. The CD is also due to go on sale on New Year's day, with industry watchers looking to see whether the cable TV and Internet exposure has helped or cannibalized store sales.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.