i>DANCING TO THE TOP?

The performance finale of ABC's Dancing With the Stars tonight (Monday) is expected to draw the biggest ratings for any show broadcast so far this season. Last May's finale drew 23 million viewers. However, a slight change in the format may pull in more viewers for Tuesday night's results show. Plans call for the third-place contestant to be named after the opening of Tuesday's show. The two remaining couples will perform two last dances, following which the winner will be announced.

IMUS'S SPONSORS WAIT ON SIDELINES

Don Imus's longtime advertisers -- even those who stuck with him during the controversy over his controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team -- are taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to his new show on cable network RFD-TV and ABC Radio, Advertising Age reported today (Monday). Most expressed lukewarm reactions when approached by the trade publication about the possibility of their advertising on the Imus show. A spokesman for General Motors, a longtime Imus sponsor, said that it wanted to evaluate the new show before committing to it. Matthew Warnecke, in charge of buying radio time for MediaCom, commented, "I don't know if any of my advertisers have come to me saying, 'We want to be involved.'"

AD BUYERS MAY ASK FOR MONEY INSTEAD OF MAKE-GOODS, SAYS REPORT

Instead of merely asking for "make goods" for shows that deliver fewer viewers than guaranteed by the networks, advertisers are likely to demand refunds during the writers' strike, Advertising Age reported today (Monday) Kris Magel of Zenith Media told the trade publication. "We are not panicking yet, but we are warning [clients] there may be potential situations where we may need to have conversations about taking money off the table with networks and finding places to spend that money that can be effective for their brand." AdAge commented: "That such a thing is being contemplated shows how worried advertisers are about the declining power of network TV to pull in ratings in the event of a protracted strike."

NBC RETURNING DATELINE TO SCHEDULE AFTER LONG ABSENCE

NBC plans to return its news magazine Dateline to its schedule on Dec. 12, the New York Times reported on its website Friday. Except for a one-hour special promoting the release of American Gangster from corporate sibling Universal Pictures that aired on Oct. 28, Dateline has not been carried by the network since last Sept. 12, its longest absence from the air since its debut in 1992. The Dec. 12 broadcast will take over the Wednesday 10:00 p.m. time period currently filled by the low-rated Life. In reporting the decision to bring back Dateline, the Times observed: "Newsmagazines like Dateline are sometimes used to fill holes in network schedules, and Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. could be considered a significant hole for NBC."

MARGE SIMPSON, "CONTENT BURGLAR"

Keith Olbermann made a cameo appearance as a cartoon character on Fox's The Simpsons Sunday night in which he berated Marge in a dream for using her TiVo device to fast-forward through commercials. Calling her a "content burglar," he told her, "You've been watching TV shows but skipping the commercials that pay for them. That makes you the worst person in the world." Plagued by guilt, Marge then tried to make amends by watching commercials for hours on end.

MURDOCH SAYS HE CAN'T CONTROL HIS SKY NEWS

Suggesting that he is not the all-powerful media mogul that he is made out to be in published accounts, Rupert Murdoch has told a House of Lords committee in the U.K. that he has been unable to make his British satellite network Sky News more like America's Fox News (presumably meaning more provocative and livelier) because "nobody at Sky listens to me." Sky is run by Murdoch's older son James. However, Lord Fowler, chairman of the committee that heard Murdoch's remarks, told the Financial Times: "I didn't take [his remarks] entirely seriously."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.