FALLON FAILIN' ON LATE NIGHT?

Jimmy Fallon's first go-round as host of CBS's Late Night delivered solid ratings Monday night/Tuesday morning. The show posted a 2.3 rating and an 8 share, up about 35 percent from the average rating when it was hosted by Conan O'Brien. Much of the success, however, was attributed to the curiosity factor. The show drew decidedly mixed reviews. Tom Shales in the Washington Post commented that it "had an unfortunate aura of disconnect. It didn't seem to have attitude, direction or an identifiable style." On the other hand, he noted, "Fallon himself remains nothing if not personable, the kind of guy you might not mind sitting next to on a long bus ride." Likewise David Hinckley remarked in the New York Daily News that although the show hit "a few potholes," Fallon's "earnest, self-effacing and quietly manic persona served him well, at least when he wasn't talking with [guest Robert] De Niro." But Matthew Gilbert, the TV columnist of the Boston Globe, was not so generous. writing that he didn't have much good to say about the show. "The NBC talk show wasn't a legendary late-night train wreck so much as a train stalled between stations, going nowhere, filled with impatient passengers. I guess Jimmy Fallon was good at not being so bad he'd make it into the Chevy Chase Bad Talk Show Hall of Fame." And Raju Mudhar wrote in the Toronto Globe & Mail: "The best thing about last night's launch ... is that it really only can get better from here." Indeed, David Zurawik, reviewing Fallon's Tuesday night show, opined that it was indeed better but he attributed much of the improvement to Tina Fey's appearance on the show. "Now the bad news," Zurawik wrote: "Fallon didn't have much to do with the good moments last night. When he held the spotlight, the show faltered."

RATINGS: THIS WEEK'S LIKE LAST WEEK

Except for the appearance of a Jesse Stone TV movie starring Tom Selleck on the list, Nielsen's top ten looked pretty much like most others since American Idol returned to the air. But in a rare anomaly, although Fox averaged the most viewers last week -- 11.2 million -- it did not wind up with the best ratings average. That honor went to CBS, which averaged 11 million. According to Nielsen, the weekly averages went like this: 1. CBS,: 6.9 rating/11 share; 2. Fox,: 6.5/10; 3. ABC: 4.7/8; and 4. NBC, 3.9/6.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 13.8/21; 2. American Idol (Thursday), Fox, 11.9/19; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 11.1/17; 3. NCIS, CBS, 11.1/18; 5. CBS Sunday Movie: Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, CBS, 9.3/14; 6. 60 Minutes, CBS, 9.1/15; 7. Criminal Minds, CBS, 8.9/13; 7. House, Fox, 8.9/14; 9. CSI: NY, CBS, 8.1/14; 10. Brothers & Sisters, ABC, 7.8/12.

IDOL DOMINATES TUESDAY AGAIN

Performances by the last group of semifinalists on American Idol Tuesday night were watched by roughly the same number of viewers who tuned into the show a week earlier. Nielsen said that 24.2 million viewers tuned in, giving the talent contest a 13.8 rating and a 21 share in its first hour and a 14.7/22 in its second. That was more than the combined numbers of the other major TV networks, as CBS's NCIS, which ordinarily is a potent challenger to Idol at 8:00 p.m., was in rerun mode -- as was The Mentalist at 9:00 p.m. Nevertheless, NCIS posted a decent 8.7/13 and The Mentalist, a nearly identical 8.2/13. ABC, which posted terrific ratings on Tuesday night with a three-hour season finale of The Bachelor, won the 10:00 p.m. time period with The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, Part 2, which scored a 7.4/12.

GENACHOWSKI NAMED NEW FCC CHAIRMAN

President Obama on Tuesday named Julius Genachowski, a former executive at Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corp., to become chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. In an interview with National Public Radio, Gigi Sohn, president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, predicted that Genachowski would expand the role of the FCC via the Internet. Genachowski, she said, "understands that broadband can solve energy problems and environment problems and health care problems. ... A lot of people tend to cabin off and silo technology but ... he sees it as part of a larger ecosystem of social economic issues that Americans really care about." In a separate interview, Mark Fowler, the FCC chairman under President Reagan, excoriated the present commission. "It is almost semi-corrupt," he said, "and I think the new chairman needs to come in with a broom and take out some of these people who have played favorites and given favors to favorite lobbyists and get this business of the FCC back to what's best for the people."