ABC SAYS IT WAS BLINDSIDED BY LAMBERT

Reminiscent of CBS's explanation in the aftermath of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 that it was caught off guard by the incident, ABC maintained on Monday that it had not expected the sexually explicit behavior of Adam Lambert during his performance on Sunday night's American Music Awards telecast. At no time during the rehearsal did one of Lambert's dancers simulate oral sex on the singer and at no time did Lambert kiss one of the male musicians, the network insisted. "We did not expect the impromptu moments," a spokeswoman for Dick Clark Productions, which produces the awards telecast, told Reuters. Lambert acknowledged that he often departs from the script. "I like to have a framework and just do stuff, so that kind of came about because of the connection that I had with that dancer," he told the Associated Press. In a separate interview with Reuters, he said that his intent was "not to piss people off, it was to promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom." But the explanation did nothing to mollify parents and religious groups, who quickly dispatched complaints to the network and to the FCC. (While the live telecast aired after the 10:00 p.m. cut-off for airing indecent material on the East Coast, it aired an hour earlier in the Central time zone; the sexual material was deleted from the delayed West Coast broadcast.) Timothy Winters, president of the Parents Television Council, which led the protest over the Janet Jackson incident, said that he had heard from members were outraged over Lambert's performance. "They just can't believe the nature of the content, the explicit nature, and how much graphic content there was," he told the A.P.

FOX NEWS MANAGEMENT WARNS STAFF ABOUT "SERIES OF MISTAKES"

The management of Fox News Channel has sent a stern memo to staffers warning them that there will be "zero tolerance for on-screen errors." The memo observed that a "series of mistakes" had gone out on the channel in recent months. "We have to all improve our performance in terms of ensuring error-free broadcasts," it said. Implying that management was not targeting individuals, the memo said that if on-air errors occur in the future, disciplinary action would be taken "against those who played significant roles in the 'mistake chain,' and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination." In order to ensure against such errors, it continued, "we will start by going to air with only the most essential, basic, and manageable elements. ... We may then build up again slowly as deadlines and workloads allow so that we can be sure we can quality check everything before it makes air, and we never having [sic] to explain, retract, qualify or apologize again." A copy of the memo was sent to FishbowlNY.com, which posted it Monday.

DANCING SCORES HIGHEST RATINGS OF SEASON

Dancing with the Stars' final performance show Monday night also produced its best ratings for the season. The 90-minute telecast averaged 20.49 million viewers, peaking in the final half-hour at 9:00 p.m. with 21.93 million. Tonight's results show is likely to draw even greater numbers, particularly given the fact that Donny Osmond, who is favored to win, has always managed to attract viewers. CBS took over first place at 9:30 p.m. with The Big Bang Theory, which continues to improve in the ratings (and, critics say, in the quality of its scripts). Monday's episode drew $14.22 million viewers. It was followed by CSI: Miami, which recorded 13.18 million viewers.

PHILBIN TO GET A NEW HIP -- OUT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

Regis Philbin said Monday that he will be leaving Live with Regis and Kelly in order to undergo hip-replacement surgery in New York on December 1. "It really is painful," he remarked on Monday's show, which originated from Las Vegas. A spokesperson for the show said that Philbin would likely return in four to six weeks. The announcement came as reports were circulating on the Internet that the 78-year-old personality is planning to step down as host of the syndicated morning show at the end of his contract in 2011. The tabloid TheNational Enquirer said last week that Philbin will be replaced by CNN's Anderson Cooper. Such speculation has been circulating since September. Today's (Tuesday) New York Post reported that Cooper will be one of the celebrities replacing Philbin during his absence. Others include Howie Mandel, Michael Bublé, and Christian Slater.

SHAIMAN NAMED MUSIC DIRECTOR FOR OSCARS

Film composer Marc Shaiman, who won an Emmy award for co-writing Billy Crystal's song medleys during the 1992 Oscar telecast and who himself has received five Oscar nominations -- three for original score; two for original song -- has been named music director for the 82nd annual Academy Awards presentations in March. Shaiman will be reunited with Adam Shankman, who is co-producing the Oscar telecast, and who directed the 2007 movie version of Shaiman's 2003 musical Hairspray.