i>HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL HITS SOUR NOTE

Disney learned Sunday that its High School Musical brand has limits to its success. Only 4 million viewers tuned in to High School Musical: Get in the Picture, a talent competition that aired on Disney's ABC. The show placed dead last among the key demographic group of adults 18-49. Last year 17.24 million viewers tuned in to the Disney Channel for the debut of High School Musical 2. ABC was apparently so confident of big numbers for Sunday night's show that it scheduled a repeat for tonight (Monday). Continuing to make a strong showing on Sunday night was NBC's magazine show Dateline, which NBC recently moved to 9:00 p.m. from its former 7:00 p.m. time period where it competed head-to-head against CBS's top-rated 60 Minutes. A two-hour edition of Dateline led in both the 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. hours, beating reruns of such top regular-season audience grabbers as CBS's Cold Case and CSI:NY and ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Desperate Housewives. Overall ratings for the broadcast networks continued to look bleak, with NBC winning the night with just a 4.0 rating and a 7 share. CBS finished second with a 3.9/7. ABC placed third with a 2.7/5, which Fox trailed with a 1.8/3.

MCMANUS TO COURIC: "YOU'RE THE ONLY G-G-G-GIRL THAT I ADORE"

CBS News President Sean McManus has again attempted to shoot down persistent reports that Katie Couric will step down as anchor of the CBS Evening News following the presidential election in November or the inauguration in January. Speaking by satellite to the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills on Friday, McManus insisted that the reports were untrue and that Couric's departure was "not a topic of discussion" at the network. Couric herself told the reporters, "We have no plans to part company any time soon ... There were a lot of speculative pieces that got spun out of control." She said that the reports were all a bit "befuddling" to her and that she's glad to see that "it's all died down considerably."

CBS MAY BUY MORE OVERSEAS-PRODUCED FARE

Given the initial ratings success of the Canadian-produced drama Flashpoint, CBS is looking at the possibility of importing other shows from Canada and overseas, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler told the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills Friday. Acknowledging that Flashpoint was an "aberration" of the writers' strike that "turned into something terrific," Tassler said that the network learned that it now operates in "a global playground." She added that writers and producers are now bringing programs to her from overseas.

FALLON TO TAKE LIGHT NIGHT TO THE WEB

Jimmy Fallon's takeover as host of NBC's Late Night will be preceded by nightly preview performances on the Internet beginning in the fall, the show's producer, Lorne Michaels, told the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills Sunday. Michaels said that he plans to produce a live, 5-10-minute show that will be posted at 12:30 p.m. every night, the same time that Late Night airs, "so people will begin to look for Jimmy at that time." NBC is expected to announce today (Monday) the exact date that Conan O'Brien will take over the Tonight show from Jay Leno and Fallon, the Late Night show from O'Brien.

AUSTRALIAN NEWSMAN FACES SEVERE PUNISHMENT IN SINGAPORE

John Cameron, the news director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has flown to Singapore, where the ABC's South Asia correspondent, Peter Lloyd, has been charged with selling and possessing drugs, the Australian Associated Press reported today (Monday). If convicted, Lloyd could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and between 5 and 15 lashes with a cane. Singapore authorities charge that Lloyd sold a gram of methamphetamine to a Singaporean for $US75.00 and possessed another gram of the drug. Lloyd is currently being held in Singapore's Changi prison.

Brian B.