RATINGS FOR TONY AWARDS JUMP -- SO DO NBA'S

Broadway's Tony Awards ceremonies made a game attempt to compete against the NBA finals Sunday night. The CBS telecast, which aired from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. averaged 7.3 million viewers, 18 percent above the 6.2 million posted during the previous two years. By contrast, the NBA telecast, always a big draw, averaged 11.2 million viewers, peaking in the final half hour with 13.49 million. The Tonys telecast saw Geoffrey Rush become the 17th actor to win the "triple crown" (Oscar, Emmy, Tony), when he received the award for best lead actor in a play (Exit the King). He had received the Emmy for his title-role performance in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers four years ago. The awards ceremonies were dominated by Billy Eliot, which picked up 10 trophies.

END OF THE ROAD FOR ZELL AT TRIBUNE?

Sam Zell may be on the verge of losing control of the Tribune Co., the Chicago Tribune, the media company's flagship newspaper, reported today (Monday). Lenders are reportedly in reorganization talks that would involve transferring majority ownership to them. In a statement, Tribune attempted to knock down its own newspaper's report, saying that Zell and his top managers ""remain actively engaged and committed to this company. The restructuring is still in progress, and it is premature to speculate about the final ownership structure." And Douglas Baird, a corporate reorganization specialist at the University of Chicago Law School, said that the lenders have to determine whether they see value in keeping Zell. "They have to decide: Is the person at the helm when the company went into the storm the most able person to steer it out?" Tribune's properties include 11 daily newspapers and 23 television stations.

AD BUYERS BALKING AT PAYING PRIMETIME RATES FOR LENO

Although many advertisers initially praised NBC for its decision to air a Jay Leno variety show in place of its regular 10:00 p.m. programming, citing the cost savings, they are apparently balking at paying the usual primetime rates for Leno at that time. According to projections from media buyers compiled by Advertising Age, Leno "will guarantee NBC a third-place finish" behind CBS and ABC (Fox does not air programs in the 10:00 p.m. hour). "He will do on par with what he did in late night," predicted Ann Brill at Carat advertising. AdAge quoted media buyers as saying that NBC's heady predictions for Leno's show are likely to be challenged if it tries to sell spots during Leno's show for the same price as expensive dramas airing on the other networks.

"THE DAY THE MEDIA DIED" GOES VIRAL

An inside-Madison-Avenue parody based on Don McLean's "American Pie" suddenly "went viral" over the Internet on YouTube over the weekend, drawing more than 37,000 in-the-know media workers, ad execs, financial advisers and others as of this morning (Monday). The video, the work of Terence Kawaja, an executive at investment bank GCA Savvian (who even sounds a great deal like McLean), describes the meltdown of the media/advertising world brought about by the digital revolution. Kawaja, who calls the parody "Mad Avenue Blues," but which has come to be known as "The Day the Media Died" from the refrain running through it, would appear to have been an accomplice in the media's undoing -- since he had a principal role in negotiating the AOL-Time Warner merger. The video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CqRcCHk_Pc.

NO NEWS FEED: WEST COAST STATIONS GO TO DEAD AIR

Several ABC stations apparently did not get the word that there would be no West Coast Feed of World News Saturday night and were left scrambling to come up with content to replace it. Dead air was the result in several markets. According to TVNewser.com, one station in Seattle, KOMO-TV, switched to color bars and tone, which stayed up for more than three minutes. That was followed by an on-air card, saying that the station was experiencing "technical difficulties." It wasn't until 5:39 p.m. -- nine minutes after the newscast was slated to begin, that the station resumed broadcasting -- with an episode of Wheel of Fortune.