OSCAR TELECAST BECOMES STEWART'S SHOW

Jon Stewart received generally high marks for his hosting duties at Sunday night's Academy Awards show, certainly far better ones than he received when he last hosted the Oscars in 2006. In a ten-minute monologue at the top of the show, he let loose with a series of zingers that landed with perfect accuracy at such targets as John McCain and Vanity Fair magazine. "Oscar is 80 this year, which makes him now automatically the front-runner for the Republican nomination," he said at one point. He later noted that among the "collateral damage" left over from the writers' strike was the cancellation of the Vanity Fair party. He added, "They said they did it out of, quote, respect for the writers. You know a way they could show respect for the writers? Maybe, one day, invite some of them to the Vanity Fair Oscar party." In fact there were few mentions of the writers' strike during the evening and no mention whatsoever of a possible strike by members of the Screen Actors Guild. As for the show itself, former Hollywood Reporter and TV Week editor Alex Ben Block represented the opinion of most TV journalists when he wrote on his Hollywood Today website that "producer Gil Cates once again pulled off a near miracle. The show was star studded, classy and while it ran over three hours, did not drag."

OSCAR RATINGS DELAYED

Ratings for Sunday night's Oscars telecast on ABC were delayed by Nielsen Media Research today (Monday), but preliminary results suggested that the telecast may have wound up as the least-watched in history. Nielsen said that preliminary results from 56 markets indicated that that the show had averaged a 21.9 rating and a 33 share, which would put the total audience at around 29 million. The 2003 telecast, which occurred during the U.S. invasion of Iraq, produced the lowest audience to date -- about 33 million.

LIVE AGAIN, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE PULLS BIG RATINGS

Starved of live broadcasts of Saturday Night Live since the writers' strike began in early November, fans of the show returned en masse Saturday night. According to Nielsen overnights, SNL, hosted by Tina Fey, drew a 4.1 rating and a 15 share, or about 6 million households, its biggest audience in more than a year and some 36 percent higher than its pre-strike average this season. Guests on the show included Carrie Underwood, Steve Martin, and presidential contender Mike Huckabee. Last week, producer Lorne Michaels said that he plans to squeeze in as many live shows as possible between now and the end of May.

FAMILY GROUP PROTESTS AGAINST LAS VEGAS NUDITY

The Parents Television Council, which has been responsible for generating most of the complaints about alleged indecency on network television, has filed a complaint with the FCC against NBC and its stations regarding a Feb. 15 episode of Las Vegas. The episode featured women running naked in a casino with "their buttocks ... visible." In a statement, PTC President Tim Winter observed that the commission's decision to fine ABC last month for an episode of NYPD Blue that showed a woman's buttocks "didn't deter NBC from airing barely obscured female nudity during a primetime airing of Las Vegas." (The show aired in the safe-harbor time period of 10:00 p.m. in most of the country but at 9:00 p.m. in the Midwest -- as did the episode of NYPD Blue.)

LOWE'S YANKS SPOTS FROM BIG BROTHER

The Lowe's department store chain has pulled its ads out of CBS's Big Brother series following criticism of an episode in which one of the contestants referred to people with autism as "retards." Although the contestant, Adam Janinski, was taken to task by a fellow contestant for his language, he responded, "I can call them whatever I want. I work with them all day." CBS, although critical of Janinski's comments as well, later disclosed that he works for the United Autism Foundation of Florida. In a statement, Lowe's said that once Janinski's comments were "brought to our attention, we decided not to advertise on [Big Brother] further." John Gilmer, executive director of Autism United, told Advertising Age, "Lowe's is doing the responsible thing."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.