FOX RECORDS ITS BEST RATINGS EVER

For the first time in memory, Fox TV shows held the top seven positions on the weekly Nielsen ratings chart, producing the highest-rated week in the network's history. Moreover, the average weekly ratings for Fox far exceeded the ratings of the other three major TV networks combined, averaging a 16.4 rating and a 26 share. CBS, the second-highest-rated network, registered a 4.7/7 average, while ABC and NBC tied for third place with a 4.2/7. The Super Bowl telecast, of course, topped the Nielsen list with a 43.1/65, representing about 97.45 million viewers, the second-largest Super Bowl audience in history and the second-largest since Nielsen began keeping records. (It was exceeded by the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H*, which attracted $106 million. In pre-Nielsen days, CBS's 1957 broadcast of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, the songwriters' only musical written for television,was reportedly watched by 107-120 million viewers.)

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

1. Super Bowl XLII), Fox, 43.1/65; 2. Super Bowl Post Game, Fox, 30.1/47; 3. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 15.7/24; 3. House (Post Super Bowl Special), Fox, 15.7/27; 5. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 14.4/22; 6. House, Fox, 12.9/19; 7. Moment of Truth, Fox, 10.2/15; 8. Lost (9:00 p.m.), ABC, 9.4/14; 9. Lost (8:00 p.m.), ABC, 8.0/12; 10. NCIS, CBS, 7.7/12.

IDOL WINS OVER CLINTON, OBAMA, ROMNEY, MCCAIN, ET AL

With its rivals offering heavy coverage of Super Tuesday primary results, Fox continued to draw viewers who were more interested in a contest of a different sort. American Idol once again dominated Tuesday's ratings, recording a 16.2 rating and a 24 share, far ahead of all the election coverage combined. Among the networks that did offer election coverage, NBC led with its 10:00 p.m. feature capturing a 4.4/7. ABC which offered coverage of the elections throughout primetime -- and beyond -- averaged a 4.2/6, while Kathy Couric's election-night report from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., drew just a 3.4/5.

WRITERS TO BE BRIEFED ON NEW CONTRACT SATURDAY

In the apparent belief that negotiators between he Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will be able to put their reported agreement on a new contract into writing by the end of the week, the WGA's East- and West-Coast branches have called an informational meeting of its members on Saturday. However, even as the members were being notified of the meeting, the WGA's chief negotiator John Bowman, was advising them that several significant differences remain to be settled.

LATE NIGHT HOSTS IN MARX BROS. FEUD

Reminiscent of the feuds between Jack Benny and Fred Allen during the "golden age of radio" when a silly disagreement between the two comics would begin on Benny's show and then carry on to Allen's, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert appeared on each other's late-night shows Monday debating over which one of them "made" presidential contender Mike Huckabee. "My favorite comedy is comedy where nothing is achieved and there is no point," O'Brien told the Associated Press Tuesday. "That this whole Huckabee fight turned into an insane Marx brothers dance was fitting somehow." Stewart and Colbert later issued a joint statement saying, "Conan's claims on Mike Huckabee could not go unanswered. ... We just hope he kids out there learned that sometimes the best way to resolve a conflict is with violence." The A.P. observed that such a gag could not have involved Jay Leno and David Letterman, who have long had icy relations. O'Brien appeared to agree, noting that "this happened because the three of us knew we would like doing this with each other."

DUTCH DOCUMENTARY MAY TEST FREE-SPEECH LIMITS

A ten-minute Dutch documentary that portrays the Koran as an inspiration for "intolerance, murder and terror" may test the limits of free speech in countries where it is due to be shown. The film was produced by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament, who caused an uproar last year when he called for the banning of the Koran. An Iranian MP, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has predicted widespread protests against the Netherlands if the film is distributed and said that the Iranian Parliament could reconsider its relations with that country. The movie, which originally was scheduled to be shown in January, will apparently finally end up on Dutch TV in March.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.