THE OTHER DAVID WINS IDOL
After being declared the champ by American Idol judges on Tuesday night, 17-year-old David Archuleta saw voting viewers take the title away from him on Wednesday and award it to 25-year-old David Cook. The show's judges on Tuesday were joined by several talk-show hosts, entertainment magazine commentators, and newspaper columnists in forecasting a win for the teenager. When host Ryan Seacrest announced on the show Wednesday night that the final vote was not even close -- 56 percent to 44 percent -- much of the audience appeared to believe that Archuleta was the big winner. Then, just before the announcement, judge Simon Cowell, who had praised Archuleta the previous night by saying that he had "won by a knockout," told Cook that he was sorry that his words verged on the "disrespectful" to him. Cowell said that when he watched the show at home, "it wasn't quite so clear cut as we called it." Seacrest said that a record 97.5 million votes had been cast by viewers, with Cook winning by a margin of 12 million.
IDOL PULLS IN YEAR'S BIGGEST AUDIENCE
Although the size of the audience for American Idol dipped significantly over the season, Wednesday night's finale actually rose slightly from last year's. The episode averaged 30.6 million viewers versus 29.5 million for the 2007 finale. Fox's 17.3 rating and 27 share was greater than the ratings for the three other networks combined -- as was the network's rating for adults 18-49. The final half hour of Idol recorded a 19.1/29, translating to 36.34 million viewers -- the biggest number for any regular television episode of the year.
TIME WARNER CUTS ITS CABLE
Time Warner made the formal announcement Wednesday that it will split off Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operation in the country behind Comcast. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, in a conference call with analysts, said that the company had become a "full-fledged telecommunications business" that includes cable, Internet access, and phone services that no longer fits well with Time Warner's traditional media companies, which include the Warner Bros. film studios, publishers Time Inc., and Turner Broadcasting. It also owns AOL -- another company that it is likely to dispose of. In order for the split to occur, Time Warner Cable will have to borrow $10.9 billion for a one-time dividend -- $9.25 billion of that amount payable to Time Warner, for its 84-percent ownership. Reporting on the development, the Wall Street Journal noted, "Loading up a spinoff with lots of debt has had bad consequences in the past." On the other hand, it said, "Time Warner itself is making out like a bandit on the deal, slashing its net debt by two-thirds."
FORMER CRITIC FRANK RICH TO HELP DEVELOP SHOWS FOR HBO
New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich is becoming a "creative consultant" to HBO to participate in the development of new programs. Rich has been a film and TV critic for Time and a theater critic for the New York Times from 1980-1994. Rich told the Times today (Thursday) that his role at HBO will be "to bring ideas, to vet ideas, everything from comedies to documentaries to docudramas."
MOMENT OF TRUTH HOST DEFENDS SHOW
Mark Walberg, host of Fox's Moment of Truth, has defended the lie-detector show against charges that it has wrecked the marriages of contestants and exploited people willing to air their dirty laundry for cash. Today's (Thursday) New York Daily News quoted Walberg as saying, "No family gets wrecked unless they're wrecking it anyway. And of all the people that have been on the show, only one couple that I know of that was married has decided to separate. And they were already on the rocks well before they got to us, by their own admission." New episodes of the show are due to begin airing on May 27.
COMCAST HOST FIRED FOR PROTESTING O'REILLY AWARD
Comcast's CN8 network has fired veteran Boston anchor Barry Nolan for reportedly protesting against a decision by the New England chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to present its Governor's Award to Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly. According to the Boston Herald, Nolan had sent email messages to local colleagues urging them to join him in the anti-O'Reilly protest. Nolan told the newspaper, "I am appalled, just appalled. He inflates and constantly mangles the truth ... and his frequent target is the 'left-leaning' media -- the ones who do report the news fairly. And those are the same people who will be sitting in the room honoring him." Comcast did not comment on the controversy except to acknowledge that Nolan is no longer employed by CN8. Nolan said that he had recently received his second five-year watch from the company.