RATINGS: THE RICH GET RICHER
The same players that dominated the top of the Nielsen ratings list the previous week did so again last week, with Fox's American Idol taking the top two positions; ABC's Dancing With the Stars, the third; and CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the fourth. It's a lineup that is almost certain to remain unchanged for the next several weeks. NBC, which has been absent from the top 20 with scripted fare for most of the season, finally returned to the list, coming in at No. 20 with Law & Order: SVU. But George Clooney's cameo on E.R., while putting the show above its average ratings for the season, placed 22nd on the list. And the pilot episode of NBC's Kings (it's not clear whether the network intends to run it as a full-fledged series or a miniseries) landed at No. 53 on the Nielsen list, despite a huge budget and a time slot on one of the most-watched nights of the week. (It averaged 6.04 million viewers, while a 60 Minutes interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier in the evening drew 12.6 million and an episode of ABC's Desperate Housewives, opposite Kings, registered 14.4 million.)
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 14.6/23; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 14.6/22; 3. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 14.1/21; 4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 10.3/16; 5. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9.1/14; 6. Criminal Minds, CBS, 8.9/14; 7. The Mentalist, CBS, 9/14; 8. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9/15; 9. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 9.1/14; 10. CSI: NY, CBS, 8.6/14.
FERRELL'S BUSH SPOOF: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Although it drew wildly mixed reviews when it began a limited run on Broadway (where it was a sell-out hit) and mostly negative reviews when it aired on TV Saturday night, Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America -- A Final Night With George W. Bush produced HBO's biggest audience for a comedy special in five years. Airing on a pay-TV channel on the least-watched night of the week, the Ferrell spoof nevertheless drew 2.3 million viewers. Variety critic Brian Lowry concluded that the TV special was fun for about the first five or ten minutes. "After a while, though, it was hard not to hope that somebody would yell 'Live, from New York...' and put this prolonged sketch to bed."
FERGUSON PULLS AHEAD OF FALLON
Jimmy Fallon may have got a big leap out of the starting gate during his first two weeks as Conan O'Brien's successor as host of NBC's Late Night, but he was edged out by CBS's Craig Ferguson on Monday, according to Nielsen figures. Ferguson's Late Late Show scored a 1.8 rating and a 6 share to Fallon's 1.6/6 -- not a big difference and probably statistically insignificant, but the closeness of the race likely produced some worry among NBC programmers, given O'Brien's consistent winning streak in the time period.
MORE STATIONS TO MAKE DIGITAL SWITCH BEFORE 6/12
By the time the June 12 mandatory cut-off date arrives for all U.S. television stations to make the switch from analog to digital broadcasting, 44 percent of them will have already done so, TVWeek reported Tuesday. The trade publication said that 158 additional stations have asked the FCC to make an earlier switch, joining the 417 that had already switched on the original date set for the transition -- February 17 -- and 220 other stations that had done so earlier.
FLYNT OFFERS ALL-HDTV PORN
With porn a bigger business on the Internet than movies, TV shows, and music videos combined, according to several reports, Larry Flynt Productions and Hustler TV announced Tuesday that they are going to raise the bar of competition by releasing all of their films in high definition. LFP and Hustler TV President Michael H. Klein said in a statement that none of the movies will be "up-converted" from standard definition. "Every title on the new service will be filmed, edited and will be broadcast in true HD," the statement said, without specifying which HD standard it was referring to, the 720p or the higher-definition 1080i. Besides its cable outlets, the company also operates a website that offers "hundreds" of movies for downloading in undefined definition.