i>LOST FINDS TOP RATINGS

ABC's Lost, the one major network TV drama that did not air its finale during the May sweeps, emerged as the No. 1 show of the week last week as its final show of the season averaged a 7.3 rating and a 13 share over two hours Thursday night. Nevertheless, the 12.3 million viewers who tuned in were 1.2 million fewer than those who watched last year's Lost finale -- and part of that one aired opposite the season final of American Idol. Most of the remaining programs on the Nielsen top-ten list were repeats, except for the CBS magazine shows 60 Minutes, which placed third with a 6.8/10 and 48 Hours Mystery, which tied for eighth with a 6.0/9. Nevertheless, even with repeats dominating its schedule, CBS remained the top network for the week with an average 4.9/9. Fox placed second with a 3.8/7. ABC was close behind with a 3.6/6, edging out fourth-place NBC with a 3.4/6.

NETWORK NEWSCASTS IN DEAD HEAT

The ABC and NBC newscasts once again ended in a photo finish, with Nielsen giving a slight edge to ABC World News With Charles Gibson which, it said, attracted 7.66 million viewers, while NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams attracted 7.65 million viewers, a statistically insignificant difference. The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric remained well behind with 5.54 million viewers.

SPORTS MAKE PRIMETIME COMEBACK

Suddenly sports telecasts are scoring big ratings for the television networks. After a steady skid in ratings over the past six years, hockey finally has begun drawing a significant audience on network television. Monday's fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals on NBC gave the network a rare primetime win (actually the triple-overtime contest ran well past primetime and into early Tuesday morning), the biggest numbers for any hockey game since 2004 and the biggest for a game that wasn't the final and deciding game since 2002. Meanwhile, the start of the NBA championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics is expected to draw the largest audience for any network telecast this summer.

REPORT: BOONDOCKS EPISODES WERE CENSORED

Two episodes of Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks that took aim at the African-American cable network BET were yanked last season by Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Networks after BET threatened legal action, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Wednesday). Nevertheless, the newspaper said, the two censored episodes are scheduled to be included in a DVD compilation of the series being released on Tuesday. The Times report said that the two episodes target BET's top executives and lampoons the channel's "negative imagery" of black Americans. In one of the episodes, a cartoon representation of the channel's chairman and CEO, Debra L. Lee (named Dr. Leevil in the show) tells a staff meeting: "Our leader Bob Johnson had a dream, a dream that would accomplish what hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow and malt liquor could not accomplish -- the destruction of black people."

BET CARRIES OBAMA'S VICTORY SPEECH WITHOUT INTERRUPTION

On Tuesday night, the Viacom-owned cable network BET, which targets the African-American audience, was able to do something that no broadcast network could -- air, in its entirety, Barack Obama's speech hailing his primary victory that clinched the Democratic presidential nomination without having to give equal time to his presumed Republican rival, John McCain, and other qualified candidates. Under FCC regulations, if a broadcast network offers time to a political candidate (outside of a news program or a debate), it must offer equal time to all other candidates. The rule does not apply to cable networks like BET.

PHILADELPHIA ANCHOR SUSPENDED

The FBI is looking into the possibility that Larry Mendte, the former co-host of Access Hollywood and currently an anchor at KYW-TV Philadelphia, may have been implicated in the alleged hacking of his former co-anchor's computer and leaking her email messages to gossip columnists, the Associated Press reported today (Wednesday). Last week, the FBI reportedly raided Mendte's home and seized his computer. The AP said that Alycia Lane, Mendte's former co-anchor, may have been targeted by Mendte because she had been receiving more publicity -- and more pay (reportedly $750,000 annually) -- than he. Mendte has been temporarily suspended. In December, Lane was reportedly involved in a scuffle with a New York City policewoman that resulted in felony assault charges being brought against her. The following month she was terminated. (The assault charges were subsequently dropped, and Lane has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the station.) The arrest had been reported in the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column as had an earlier report that Lane had sent photos of herself in a bikini to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen. She later explained that she and Eisen were longtime friends and that their relationship was purely platonic.

EXXON MOBIL RETURNING -- WITH BUCKS -- TO PBS

Exxon Mobil, which for more than 30 years was identified as the underwriter of some of the classiest shows on public television, most prominently Masterpiece Theater, but which withdrew from such sponsorships in 2004, is returning to PBS -- but on a far more modest scale than previously. The company has agreed to partially underwrite the Nightly Business Report, produced by public TV station WPBT in Miami, and Nova, produced by WGBH Boston. The resumption of Exxon Mobil sponsorship comes at a time when several other corporations are abandoning public television and reportedly creating major funding challenges for PBS. Only last month it was reported that Archer Daniels Midland had decided to end its 14-year sponsorship of The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.