AMERICAN IDOL RETURNS

Fox's American Idol made another triumphant return to the air Tuesday night, but with "only" 30.07 million viewers. While that number trounced everything in sight -- not only for the night but for the season -- it was nevertheless down 10 percent from the 33.41 million who tuned in to the season opener of Idol a year ago. Nevertheless, viewership rose sharply during the two-hour telecast, beginning with just 18.04 million in the first half hour and peaking in the third half hour with 32.76 million. Surprisingly, CBS, with its strong Tuesday-night lineup, lost few viewers to the new Idol. Its long-running NCIS was able to pull in 18.48 million viewers, down just 3 percent from a week earlier, while freshman hit The Mentalist managed to attract 18.09 million viewers, down 7.6 percent from the previous week. NBC's The Biggest Loser performed decently in a two hour special which averaged 8.75 million viewers. But ABC's lineup ight just as well have been scrubbed, with two back-to-back episodes of Scrubs averaging just 4.5 million viewers.

THE MENTALIST BECOMES TOP-RATED ENTERTAINMENT SHOW

CBS's The Mentalist turned out to be not only the top-rated new show of the season but also the most-watched entertainment show of last week, according to Nielsen Research. The show attracted 19.6 million viewers, but it ranked only fourth because of end-of-the-season football mania. Fox's coverage of the BCS championship game between Florida and Oklahoma attracted 26.8 million viewers, while its coverage of the NFC playoff game between the Eagles and Giants drew 23.8 million. Indeed Fox's football coverage -- college and pro -- gave the network an easy overall win for the week as it averaged 14.2 million viewers, far surpassing usual ratings winner CBS, which averaged 11.7 million.

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

1. BCS National Championship, Fox, 15.8/25; 2.NFC Playoff, Fox, 13.8/23; 3. AFC Playoff/ Post-Game, CBS, 12.6/20; 4. The Mentalist, CBS, 12.2/18; 5. NCIS, CBS, 11.6/18; 6. Fiesta Bowl, Fox, 10.4/17; 7. 60 Minutes, CBS, 9.2/14; 8. Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 9.2/14; 9. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 8.9/13; 10. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 8.5/12.

OBAMA NAMES GENACHOWSKI HEAD OF FCC

President-elect Barack Obama has proposed that Julius Genachowski, a friend and advisor since their days at Harvard Law School together, become chairman of the FCC. Although Genachowski had previously worked as an aide to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt during the Clinton administration, little is known about his views on telecommunications, particularly about such matters as "decency" regulation, the proposal to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine, or even on Obama's own proposal to delay the switchover to digital broadcasting now set for February 17, although some analysts have suggested that he played a role in advising Obama on the matter. (However, it is known that Genachowski supports so-called network neutrality on the Internet.)

FOX'S REILLY PRAISES NBC FOR LENO MOVE

Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, who was fired from a similar post at NBC two years ago, has saluted his former employer for its decision to move Jay Leno into the 10:00 p.m. hour next fall. Saying he was surprised by the move, Reilly told the TV Critics Association winter tour in Los Angeles Tuesday, "I give them a lot of credit for signing up Jay. ... It's a smart strategic move for them in a very, very troubled place." It's a place that that Reilly himself doesn't have to be concerned about since Fox does not program the 10:00 hour. Reilly also indicated that he is intently working on developing live-action sitcoms for the network and that he has already ordered five pilots as part of a plan to rebuild its "live-action comedy brand.". Fox is currently the only major network that has no such shows on its schedule.

HULU APOLOGIZES FOR YANKING SHOW WITHOUT NOTICE

The online video site Hulu apologized to its users Tuesday for removing without notice nearly three seasons of the Fox series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The action generated dozens of complaints from the show's fans on the Hulu blog site, several of them vowing to view the content on pirate websites if they could not do so on legal ones. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, responding to the complaints, observed that the website is likely to remove other shows in response to requests to do so from providers. "This blog post, however, is not about the fact that episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia were taken down," Kilar said. "Rather, this blog post is to communicate to our users that we screwed up royally with regards to how we handled this specific content removal and to apologize for our lack of strong execution." Kilar then went on to announce that the episodes would be reposted "in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down ... on January 25, 2009."

QUIZ SHOW HOST FIRED FOR OUTBURST

Adele Lupse, the buxom host of a call-in quiz show in Romania, may have thrown an on-air tantrum when none of the show's viewers -- if there were any -- phoned in, but video of her rant was quickly posted on YouTube and other sites and was probably viewed by more people than ever tuned in to any program aired on Romania's National TV. On Tuesday, the country's National Audiovisual Council probably unintentionally spurred other Internet watchers to access the video when it called the outburst "unjustified violence" and fined National TV the equivalent of $1,600. (National TV also fired Lupse.) In the video, Lupse can be seen pounding the phone, screaming, tossing the phone to the ground, and stomping on it. After about two minutes of this, the phone finally rings, Lupse picks up the receiver and answers sweetly, "Hallo?" No one replies, whereupon Lupse daintily lets the receiver fall to the ground.