A JOSHUA AT CBS?

CBS's Jericho will come tumbling down next season -- its ratings demonstrating to network executives that it was not fit for battle. It was the latest of a series of announcements by the networks that they are abandoning the onetime popular serial dramas. Meeting with reporters on Wednesday, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler indicated that the network -- which remains the most watched -- plans to alter its conservative image by attempting to introduce some "daring" new programs next year. "We said this was the year because we have stability, we had the strength. We wanted to make a little noise and stir things up," she commented as she took the wraps off the network's plans for next season. Added CBS Chairman Les Moonves: "We wanted to take some chances -- we could afford to." By far, the most unusual entry will be Viva Laughlin, about a gambler who dreams of buying a casino in Nevada. At times in the drama, the characters lip-sync pop songs. It is exec produced by actor Hugh Jackman, who will also make occasional appearances as a regular character. A new detective series, Moonlight, features a vampire as the private eye. A new reality series, Kid Nation, will feature 40 8-15-year-olds building their own city in the New Mexico desert, without any help from adults. "Stunningly," wrote Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes, "the network taking the wildest swings next season with its new series choices is also the one with the most viewers."

IDOL FAVORITE DOOLITTLE ELIMINATED

In a surprise, Melinda Doolittle, a professional backup singer and widely regarded as the performer to beat during the current American Idol competition, was eliminated Tuesday, leaving Jordin Sparks, 17, and Blake Lewis, 25, as the two finalists. After hearing the voting results, judge Simon Cowell remarked, "My commiserations, Melinda, because you are one heck of a singer." However, several American Idol finalists have succeeded in rising to prominence as recording stars even after being eliminated in the competition, among them Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, and Jennifer Hudson. Wednesday night's show produced a 16.2 rating and a 25 share for Fox.

SPECTOR SENDS VIDEO TO INSIDE EDITION

Another homemade video by an accused killer has turned up on national television -- this one made by music producer Phil Spector, who is now being tried for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson. In the video, broadcast Wednesday on Inside Edition, Spector denies that he killed Clarkson, saying that the 5-foot-11-inch woman "was standing when she took her own life" and that since he is only 5-foot-five, "it would have been physically impossible for me to have administered the death wound to her." At another point in the tape, Spector called testimony by four women who claim that he had threatened them with a gun "nonsense." He said the women "just want to get on Inside Edition ... and they want to make money." He then held a $100,000 check before the camera and challenged the women to take lie-detector tests. "Here's a chance to make money," he said.

VIOLENCE ON TV? REPORT SAYS IT DOESN'T STIR VIOLENCE ON STREETS

The Media Institute, composed of such media behemoths as Viacom, NBC Universal, the Tribune Co., Time Warner, and News Corp, has rebutted claims by the FCC that television violence inspires violent behavior by young people and should be relegated to time periods when they are not watching. In a research paper prepared for the group, Toronto professor Jonathan Freedman called into question previous research on the top, saying that "the evidence is not overwhelming" that there is a link between television and aggression or violence. "Rather than analyzing the conflicting evidence and opinion, the (FCC) report simply comes down on the side of those who believe television violence is harmful," Freedman said. "There is no careful analysis of the research; there is no careful explanation of their conclusions."

CNN CO-FOUNDER SAYS COURIC CAN'T CURE WHAT AILS CBS

Reese Schonfeld, who cofounded CNN with Ted Turner in 1980, says he believes that CBS is unlikely to improve its ratings by simply returning to the traditional formula of news and features that evening news programs have dished out from the beginning. Telling the New York Observer that "CBS made a fundamental error in thinking that changing their anchor would make any difference," Schonfeld pointed to the winning effort of Roger Ailes in overwhelming CNN in the ratings. Ailes and Fox News, he said, succeeded by tailoring their news to a niche audience. Likewise, he said, Katie Couric "needs a whole new idea." He expressed doubt that veteran TV news producer Rick Kaplan, who was brought in to rescue the CBS Evening News program, would be able to do so.

Brian B.