LENO'S RATINGS IMPROVE
Jay Leno -- along with NBC programming executives -- may have felt especially thankful on Thanksgiving as the latest ratings appeared to indicate that the exodus of viewers from his primetime talk show had halted and that some viewers may in fact be returning, the Hollywood Reporter said today (Friday). Last week, the trade publication observed, Leno drew his best numbers since mid-October and on Wednesday of this week -- Thanksgiving Eve -- while every other broadcast network program lost viewers, Leno gained them. The shift, THR commented, "might represent a turning point for the industry-polarizing series." Then again, it noted, Leno was able to land stars of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, this year's blockbuster sensation, for his show last week, and he followed a two-hour Biggest Loser special ("Where Are They Now?") on Wednesday that averaged 7.7 million viewers. While Leno's show averaged 5.1 million viewers, by contrast, the entire ABC lineup on Wednesday night attracted only 5.2 million viewers. Fox averaged 5.5 million. CBS, while seeing a decline in its own ratings, nevertheless held a commanding lead for the night with 11.0 million viewers.
MURDOCH'S SON MAKES HIS MOVE -- INTO RADIO
Lachlan Murdoch, the renegade son who cast off his mantle as heir apparent to the News Corp empire and returned to his native Australia four years ago, has taken a 50-percent stake in that country's DMG radio network for about $50 million in cash and the assumption of about $60 million in debt, according to the Dow Jones News Service, a News Corp subsidiary. There had been much speculation that Murdoch, who has not made a major investment since leaving News Corp in 2005, had been considering a return to the family fold. His decision to enter the Australian radio business appeared to scotch such speculation. In a statement, he said, "Patience is a virtue and, after exhaustively searching the market for the right acquisition, we have found in DMG Radio Australia the right business, the right partner and the right brands which are positioned for exemplary growth." The Melbourne, Australia Herald-Sun, another News Corp unit, quoted sources close to the 38-year-old Murdoch as saying that "he was attracted to the upside potential of the radio industry as it emerges from the economic slowdown." Australian companies, which were not hit heavily by the global recession, have been attracting numerous moneyed investors in recent months.
LARRY KING TO INTERVIEW ALLEGED GATE-CRASHERS
CNN's Larry King has landed an interview with the Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who managed to slip through security on November 24 to attend President Obama's first state dinner without an invitation. They have as yet talked to no other interviewers. At the time, they were reportedly being considered for Bravo's The Real Housewives of D.C,.and were accompanied to the state dinner by a Bravo cameraman. On Thursday, NBC's Brian Williams said that he and his wife noticed the couple when they arrived. "What attracted our attention was there was at least one camera trailing them," Williams said. "And a makeup woman got out and fixed the woman's hair and then started powdering the man's forehead." The Secret Service said that it is investigating the incident.
VARIETY'S TV EDITOR BEMOANS COLLAPSE OF CNN
In a devastating critique of CNN's programming and, in particular, its decision to replace Lou Dobbs with former Associated Press reporter John King, Daily Variety television editor Brian Lowry has accused the cable network of failing to provide compelling coverage of hard news, "its rhetoric notwithstanding." CNN, Lowry said, "too often brings to mind the excesses of bleed-and-lead, celebrity-obsessed local newscasts, which in their pursuit of younger demographics have merely sent discriminating viewers scurrying elsewhere for anything but weather forecasts and the occasional sports score." Lowry accused King of routinely failing to challenge interview subjects, and he anticipates that he will become another member of CNN's "mostly undistinguished roster of talent" that it surrounds "with distracting technological toys, from King's 'magic wall' to holograms to the new infatuation with gleaning viewer reaction from Twitter and comments posted online." King, he predicted, doesn't have "a puncher's chance of succeeding." With Dobbs gone, Lowry concluded, "CNN has reiterated its aspiration to represent the TV version of a newspaper's front section," a goal, he noted, that some critics insist is commercially unrealistic. "They might well be right, but we'll never know if CNN falls short not due to its strategy, but because it paid lip-service to those ideals without ever truly implementing them."
LAMBERT: VICTIM OF "DOUBLE STANDARD?"
Former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert continued to generate controversy Thursday after CBS blurred the image of him kissing a male band member during his performance at the American Music Awards Sunday night. Lambert had been invited to appear on CBS's The Early Show after ABC dropped him from its competing Good Morning America. During a discussion of other controversial TV appearances, the CBS show did not similarly blur an image of Madonna and Britney Spears kissing at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Following the CBS telecast, Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said that the decision "reinforces an unfortunate double standard that is applied to openly gay performers." He noted that the "kiss was not blurred on ABC nor in news coverage on other networks." CBS responded that the Madonna-Spears kiss "is very familiar and has appeared countless times including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated, and for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences."