ABC IN A "TONAL SHIFT" FOR NEXT SEASON

In deciding what new programs to take on for the 2007-2008 season, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said Tuesday that the network had listened to "a tonal shift in the viewer" -- away from darker, complicated series like Lost and towards lighter fare like Ugly Betty. Gone from the lineup were such dramas as The Nine, Day Break, Six Degrees and Traveler. In their place will be eight more uncomplicated shows, among them: Dirty Sexy Money, about an "absurdly wealthy" family; Cavemen, a sitcom based on the cavemen in the Geico commercials; Pushing Daisies, about a man who can bring dead people back to life; Murder Club, about a group of women who pool their talents to solve murders; and Private Practice, a spinoff of Grey's Anatomy.

ABC TO PROVIDE SHOWS IN HI-DEF ONLINE

In the latest act of television-Internet convergence, ABC announced Tuesday that it will begin providing some of its television shows in high definition to consumers with broadband connections. In a statement, Disney-ABC digital media chief Albert Cheng said, "This is all about innovating and creating 'what's next' to give consumers the best experience as they watch our content, regardless of viewing platform." Separately the network also announced that it plans to begin providing a number of its primetime programs and news shows to Sprint mobile-phone users.

RATINGS SLIP DURING SWEEP

For a sweeps week that saw numerous series and season finales, ratings for all the major networks appeared lackluster last week. The CBS comedy King of Queens went out with its biggest audience in four years, but, although it was the highest-rated sitcom of the week, it ranked only No. 3 on Monday night. Survivor: Fiji also won its time slot, but its audience of 13.6 million was down 17 percent from the 16.4 million who tuned in to the finale of the previous Survivor series last December. In fact, it was the smallest audience ever to watch a Survivor finale. In the nightly news race, audience numbers for all three networks remained dull, with ABC remaining in the lead with 7.9 million viewers, while NBC stayed in second place with 7.2 million. The news remained bleak for CBS, which counted only 6.1 million -- just 80,000 viewers more than it reported last week, when its ratings fell to the lowest level since the modern ratings system was introduced.

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

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 16.9/26; 2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 15.1/24; 3. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 13.0/20; 4. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.8/20; 5. House, Fox, 12.5/20; 6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 12.1/19; 7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 11.5/19; 8. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 11.0/17; 9. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 10.3/16; 10. Without a Trace, CBS, 9.8/17.

TELEVANGELIST JERRY FALWELL DEAD AT 73

Conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell died of a heart attack Tuesday in Lynchburg, VA. In his broadcasts, he warned of efforts by broadcasters to "promote homosexuality" and his organization's newsletter accused the kids series the TeleTubbies of attempting to brainwash them early. (The TMZ gossip website marked Falwell's death by posting a picture of a waving TeleTubby.) He clashed frequently with porn mogul Larry Flynt and sued Flynt for slander when Flynt's Hustler magazine satirically suggested that Flynt had sex with his mother. (Falwell lost the law suit when it came before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988.) Hearing of Falwell's death, Flynt sent a statement to the Access Hollywood magazine show saying, "I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends ... and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.