FOOTBALL TOWERS; TRUMP TACKLED

A gigantic 20.0 rating and a 31 share for the AFC playoff game between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers as the telecast ran over into both the 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. primetime periods Sunday night guaranteed CBS a win for the night. Heavy competition during the 9:00 p.m. hour saw three shows in a tight finish. ABC's Desperate Housewives, with a 10.6/15, edged out CBS's conclusion of 60 Minutes and Cold Case, which followed,with a 9.8/14. Fox's 24 was close behind with a 9.1/13. But NBC's The Apprentice, which recorded its lowest ratings ever last week, saw them dive even further as the show registered a 4.7/7 in the second week of its new season.

ABC TO LOSE LOST

ABC's Lost will become just that after another season or two -- lost from the TV schedule, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson told the winter TV writers press tour Sunday in Pasadena. He said that ABC executives are currently in discussions with Lost's producers about ways to end the series. Damon Lindelof, one of the executive producers of the series, said that the show's creators had always planned to devise no more than 100 episodes. Thus far, 53 episodes have aired. Lindelof noted that other popular dramas were abandoned by audiences after producers began making questionable creative decisions to invigorate them. He specifically mentioned The X-Files and Alias in that context. McPherson also said that the network will not break up the series as it did in 2006 when it aired six episodes and then put it on hiatus for three months. (It returns for 16 more episodes next month.) Next time around -- which could begin in the fall or the spring of 2008 -- Lost will run for 22 consecutive weeks. And in yet another announcement, McPherson said that it will delay the season launch of Dancing With the Stars until March 19, when it will air on Monday nights in order to avoid head-to-head competition with Fox's similar talent contest, American Idol.

PRODUCERS DEVELOP CONTROVERSIAL PLOT FOR 24

In what will likely touch off a firestorm of controversy, producers of Fox's 24 are planning to "take it radioactive" with a story about terrorists using "low charge" nuclear weapons in an attack on the U.S., according to the Drudge Report. The Internet gossip columnist quoted a Fox source as saying that it was "time to wake the country up" to the possibility of such an attack. "I do not think there has ever been TV done like this," the Fox source said. "The viewer is going to be completely riveted." Drudge said that Fox has scheduled "a highly controversial" episode of 24 to air tonight opposite the Golden Globes.

NBC TO LENGTHEN TODAY

NBC has notified its affiliates that it plans to produce a fourth hour of Today beginning next fall and intends to provide details about it at the annual television writers tour in Pasadena on Wednesday. Final plans for the additional hour have yet to be formulated, the network said in its message to affiliates, noting that it had decided to make its announcement at this time as programmers at the affiliates head for the National Assn. of Television Program Executives conference, which opens Tuesday in Las Vegas. "We ask that you look at the value of an additional hour of 'Today' to your daytime schedule before you commit to any new or extended syndicated product," the network said.

LARRY KING QUESTIONS WHETHER PUBLIC CAN ACCEPT FEMALE ANCHOR

Larry King has suggested that no amount of tinkering with the format of the CBS Evening News is likely to overcome an inherent problem the news program faces -- the gender of its anchor, Katie Couric. "It might still be hard for a woman to anchor the evening news," King told Broadcasting & Cable magazine. "And that's sad." On the other hand, he indicated that a major news event that would show off Couric's strengths could change the public's perception of her. "Hurricane Katrina made Anderson Cooper," he remarked. "It could happen to Katie that way."

EGYPT ARRESTS AL-JAZEERA ANCHOR

An al-Jazeera producer has been arrested in Cairo and footage from a documentary that she was filming confiscated, the London Financial Times reported today (Monday). The newspaper claimed that the producer, Huweida Taha Metwalli, in an effort to "damage the reputation of Egyptian authorities, had fabricated scenes showing Egyptian prisoners being tortured by police. Al-Jazeera did not deny the charge, saying that it was commonplace for documentary filmmakers to include reconstructions of events in their films. Other seized footage included interviews with alleged torture victims, al-Jazeera's Cairo bureau chief told the FT. Human rights activists have long complained that torture is an integral constituent of police procedure in Egypt.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.