BASEBALL HITS ONE OUT OF THE PARK FOR FOX

The American League Championship Series playoff games, which went the full seven games and ended with the Boston Red Sox overcoming a three-game-to-one deficit against the Cleveland Indians, made ratings champions out of Fox last week. Last week's five telecasts averaged 13.14 million viewers, giving Fox its first weekly ratings victory in the fall season since 2004 when the Red Sox scored another comeback win to defeat the New York Yankees. (Even without baseball, Fox performed well last night -- Tuesday -- as House returned after a one week absence with a 10.7 rating and a 16 share. Although slightly behind ABC's Dancing With the Stars in households, House was slightly ahead in total viewers and well ahead in adults 18-49.) Last week's Nielsen ratings also revealed that ABC's Samantha Who? had become the season's most-watched premiere with 14.42 million viewers. For the week, Fox ranked first with an average 7.5 rating and a 12 share. CBS and ABC tied for second place with a 7.1/12, while NBC trailed with a 5.3/9.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 12.9/19; 2. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.8/19; 3. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 12.0/18; 4. American League Championship Series (Game 7), Fox, 11.7/19; 5. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 11.5/17; 5. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 11.5/17; 7. NCIS, CBS, 10.9/17; 8. CSI: Miami, CBS, 10.5/17; 9. Samantha Who?, ABC, 9.9/15; 10. Criminal Minds, CBS, 9.5/15.

GIBSON, WILLIAMS IN VIRTUAL DEAD HEAT; COURIC UP

In the three-way race between the network nightly newscasts, NBC retained the lead for a third week with 8.2 million viewers to ABC's 8.1 million -- a difference so small (1.2 percent) that it's considered statistically insignificant. Among viewers 25-54, ABC retained a slight lead with 2.58 million versus 2.51 million for NBC, a 2.8 percent difference. The CBS newscast remained in third place but picked up 310,000 viewers for the week, making it Katie Couric's best week since mid-April.

LAUGHLIN PRODUCER THINKS CBS YANKED SHOW TOO SOON

Deborra-Lee Furness, who with husband Hugh Jackman, co-produced Viva Laughlin, which was canceled this week after two episodes, expressed disappointment today (Wednesday) that CBS did not give the show more of a chance to prove itself. "I think it takes a while for us to get used to things," Furness remarked in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. Noting that "doing a drama that is a musical is going to be a huge risk," Furness said that in show business risks are necessary. "The fact that it got canceled after two shows, it happened fast and you've just got to dust your knees off and get onto the next one. We're [the Jackman's production company Seed] still looking at scripts and still developing and you just keep going."

FIRE REPORTS FAIL TO FIRE CONTROVERSY

Television coverage of the disastrous Southern California fires was remarkably free of the controversial commentaries by reporters that underlined coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The inability of National Guard troops to provide adequate backup because of their deployment in the Middle East was scarcely mentioned. Likewise, the scarcity of water-dropping planes -- particularly large-capacity jets -- in an era when the U.S. bomber fleet appears to be of limited benefit and when dozens of such planes have been deactivated, received no attention at all. Instead, TV stations cultivated the Internet, urging residents in fire areas to post home video and photos on their sites. But José Rios, vice president of news for Fox-owned KTTV Los Angeles, told Broadcasting & Cable, "Some of the photos are good ... but if someone's in a great position to shoot, they're probably getting the hell out."

HUGE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES OFFERED TO TIVO OWNERS

With the market for external hard drives for PCs and laptops growing increasingly saturated, Western Digital is now tapping the TiVo market. It announced Tuesday that its $200 My DVR Expander will allow TiVo subscribers to store up to 300 additional hours of standard-definition movies and TV shows. With TiVo's high-definition model, it can store 60 hours of HDTV. Indeed, the device could turn out to represent an alternative to disc devices such as HD DVD and Blu-ray, especially if high-definition movies could be delivered to subscribers automatically via TiVo digital video recorders.

NEWS ORGS ASK COURT TO ALLOW THEM TO COVER JENA TRIAL

ABC News and CNN are the only two television news services to join a media group that has filed a First Amendment petition seeking to open to the press the trial of one of the teenage defendants in the controversial Jena 6 case in Louisiana. Other petition signers include the Associated Press, Hearst Corp., Belo Corp., and the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. The companies challenge decisions by LaSalle Parish District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray to conduct the juvenile trial in private. The defendant in the case is 17-year-old Mychal Bell, one of the six black teens who allegedly participated in an attack on white students at Jena High School in the aftermath of an incident in which three white teens hung nooses from a tree at the school.

TONY SOPRANO IS ALIVE AND WELL, SAYS CHASE

Tony Soprano did not get whacked after the screen went black at the end of the final episode, Sopranos creator David Chase says. In an interview appearing in a new book, The Sopranos: The Complete Book, Chase maintained that what viewers saw is all that happened to Tony Soprano -- that he had written no clues to Tony's fate in that episode or any other. "There are no esoteric clues in there. No Da Vinci Code," he said. Chase said that he was surprised by fans' reaction to the episode. "They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat," Chase observed in the interview. "They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted 'justice' ... The pathetic thing -- to me -- was how much they wanted HIS blood, after cheering him on for eight years."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.