ANOTHER "WARDROBE MALFUNCTION" HITS CBS
Another apparent "wardrobe malfunction" has gotten CBS into another battle with the Parents Television Council, which filed an indecency complaint against the network with the FCC on Tuesday. The PTC filed its complaint after a brief scene in last Thursday night's Survivor: Gabon, showing a contestant running in his boxer shorts, revealed a glimpse of his penis. CBS said that until the scene was posted on YouTube and other sites it had "received one viewer comment from the 13 million who watched the telecast." The network's statement said: "This was a completely unintentional, inadvertent and fleeting incident that was virtually undetectable when viewed in real-time." The PTC responded: "CBS' decision to hide behind excuses that the incident was 'fleeting' and didn't generate an immediate flood of complaints is the epitome of irresponsibly. The number of 'fleeting' penises we expect to see on broadcast television is zero." In fact the show was seen by fewer people than any previous Survivor season debut. For the first time, the premiere did not land in Nielsen's top ten.
ABC DANCES AWAY WITH FIRST WIN OF SEASON
The first week of the new season was won easily by ABC, thanks to such big ratings grabbers as Dancing With the Stars, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. CBS and NBC, meanwhile, saw their ratings tumble as they were unable to offer a full slate of new programs due to lasting effects of the writers' strike. ABC averaged a 7.8 rating and a 13 share for the week. CBS placed second with a 7.1/12. Fox placed third with a 5.2/8, while NBC, which had shown solid results during the summer months, slid back to last place again with a 4.6/7.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Dancing With The Stars, ABC, 13.4/20; 2. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 11.9/18; 3. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 11.7/18; 4. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 11.4/17; 5. NCIS, CBS, 11.3/18; 6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 11.1/18; 7. NBC Sunday Night Football, NBC, 10.8/17; 8. Criminal Minds, CBS, 10.5/16; 9. Dancing With the Stars (Wednesday), ABC, 10.4/17; 10. The Mentalist, CBS, 9.9/15.
YOUTUBE DOUBLES LETTERMAN'S AUDIENCE
More than 3.5 million people watched David Letterman's response to Sen. John McCain's snub last week on YouTube, nearly doubling the number of viewers who watched the original show (about 4 million). A nine-minute clip from the show, in which Letterman showed McCain being made up for an interview with Katie Couric at another CBS studio down the street from his own, was uploaded by YouTube member 1970oaktree, identified in some reports as a member of the Letterman staff, even before Letterman's show, taped earlier in the day, went on the air.
PALIN HELPS COURIC -- BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY
Although Katie Couric's interview last week with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin generated enormous publicity for the CBS Evening News (including a sketch on Saturday Night Live in which comedienne Tina Fey employed Palin's verbatim responses to Couric's questions), the interview failed to boost the newscast's ratings significantly. According to Nielsen Media Research, the newscast drew slightly fewer than 6 million viewers, up from 5.44 million from the previous week, but down from 6.2 million from the same week a year ago. Speaking to the Associated Press on Tuesday, Couric said that the interview -- and ones this week with Congressional leaders on the economic crisis -- offered her a platform "to do what I excel at, which is talk to people and do interviews."
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS RETURNS -- ON DIRECTV ONLY
The critically praised but ratings-challenged Friday Night Lights is set to return for a third season tonight (Wednesday) -- but on DirecTV, which has stepped in to help over its production costs, not on NBC, at least not for now. (It's due to return to the network in February.) Critics continue to praise it. Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times writes that the series "still charges along with so much to recommend it." Robert Bianco says that while budget pressures "may have moved the series from cost-efficient to cheap," it nevertheless remains "better than most TV series." Some analysts have questioned the strategy of airing the show on DirecTV before it airs on the network, noting that doing so may cannibalize its already meager ratings when the NBC telecasts resume.