i>DANCING SWEEPS RATINGS GOLD

ABC must have been positively starry eyed Monday as ratings revealed that last week's two episodes of Dancing With the Stars had helped produce the network's highest-rated week of the season. The network also came out on top among adult viewers 18-49, although CBS remained in first place in total viewers. NBC could also claim significant improvement, primarilyy from strong performances by Heroes, Deal or No Deal, and Sunday Night Football. Fox, however, continued to flounder, with only House continuing to shine. Nevertheless, the network did see significant improvement in ratings for Prison Break, Bones, and Family Guy. The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. Dancing With the Stars Results (Wednesday), ABC, 17.7/27; 2. Dancing With the Stars Performance (Tuesday), ABC, 17.1/25; 3. NFL Overrun (Sunday), CBS, 14.8/25; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.8/22; 5. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 13.6/20; 5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 13.6/20; 7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 12.4/20; 8. 60 Minutes, CBS, 12.3/19; 9. Deal or No Deal (Monday), NBC, 11.1/17; 10. Criminal Minds, CBS, 10.4/16.

BARBARA WALTERS MIGHT HAVE INTERVIEWED O.J., SAYS REPORT

Despite her previous assertions that she had turned down an interview with O.J. Simpson about his book If I Did It, Barbara Walters had in fact expressed interest in conducting the interview but was overridden by ABC News, the New York Observer reported today (Wednesday), citing sources, three of whom work at the network. The book's publisher, Judith Regan, then suggested that the interview be handled through the network's entertainment division, instead of ABC News, so that it could get on the air before the book was published at the end of this month. However, said the Observer, the unit would not commit to airing it before the interview was actually completed. Walters, however, already had another special, "30 Mistakes in 30 Years," set to air on the network and was working on integrating Rosie O'Donnell into The View and finding a replacement for Star Jones on that program. After 10 days, she decided to pass on the interview, according to the weekly. At that point, it said, Regan took the project to Fox, proposing that she conduct the interview herself. Top Fox executives participated in the negotiations, and News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch was kept fully informed, but Fox News chief Roger Ailes was not informed until hours before the announcement went out, the Observer article claims, and allowed his top talent, including Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera to condemn the broadcast -- and O'Reilly to propose a boycott of advertisers on the program. On Monday, Murdoch ordered that the interview and the publication of the book be canceled. As yet there has been no indication whether the $3.5 million that the publisher had reportedly agreed to pay for it would in fact be paid.

FOX OFFERED US "HUSH MONEY," SAYS NICOLE SIMPSON'S SISTER

In an effort to quell the rising uproar over the interview and book deal with O.J. Simpson, News Corp offered to share any advertising profits from it with the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, a News Corp spokesman confirmed Tuesday. Andrew Butcher told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, "Last week, when concerns were raised by the public that we were profiting from this guy's story, we tried to work out some arrangement with the family." Earlier, Nicole Simpson's sister Denise appeared on the Today show and described the offer as "hush money" amounting to "millions of dollars." Meanwhile, Advertising Age reported on Tuesday that several media buyers had "proactively" informed Fox that they didn't want their clients' spots to run during the Simpson interview. The trade publication observed that no Fox sales person had even attempted to sell advertising on the program, "perhaps knowing the response from advertisers." Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that Simpson is "totally indifferent about the fact that [the broadcast] has been canceled."

YOUTUBE RERUNS GLITCH-FILLED COURIC NEWSCAST

YouTube.com has posted the glitch-filled telecast of Monday's CBS Evening News which ran nearly four minutes short as a result of technical problems. The network itself has apparently made no request that the YouTube remove the embarrassing video -- and, in fact, links to it on its own Public Eye blog in which it explains in somewhat technical jargon what occurred. "Think of it like a computer suddenly freezing up and needing a reboot," Public Eye writer Brian Montopoli explain. What was not explained was why there was no backup computer standing by to take over.

YOUTUBE DRIVING VIEWERS TO CBS LATE-NIGHT SHOWS

Apparently taking the position "if you can't beat 'em, praise 'em," CBS's newly appointed Interactive President Quincy Smith is crediting YouTube.com for helping lift the ratings of its late-night shows, Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. "Although the success of these shows on YouTube is not the sole cause of the rise in television ratings, both companies believe that YouTube has brought a significant new audience of viewers to each broadcast," Smith said in a news release. Moreover, Smith indicated that the network no longer intends to battle YouTube over rights issues involved in the website's use of CBS clips (the Letterman and Ferguson clips appear on the CBS Brand Channel, a jointly operated CBS/YouTube undertaking), saying that it is the network's intention "to build bridges rather than construct walls" between the old media and the new.

DISNEY NARROWS WINDOW FOR PAY-PER-VIEW

Confirming widespread rumors, the Walt Disney Co. said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, to release its movies on pay-per-view TV as soon as 15 days after they go on sale on DVD. The current window for all studios is 30-45 days. The deal also would allow Comcast to offer some of ABC's primetime hits and news programs and ESPN shows for free on-demand viewing. Included in the deal is a provision for Comcast to buy Disney's 39.5-percent stake in E! Entertainment Television for $1.23 billion, giving it sole ownership of the company.

Brian B.