MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL DEFEATS ALL COMERS

Once again, Monday Night Football on ESPN not only beat all of its cable competition but all of the broadcast competition as well. Monday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins attracted 12.77 million viewers. (The figure was actually down 13 percent from its weekly average this season, 14.72 million.) Next week's game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints would ordinarily be expected to be a big draw -- except that it would face the fifth game of baseball's World Series if, as is likely, the series goes five games. Ratings for post season baseball have risen this year and some analysts are predicting that a World Series featuring the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies will attract an audience greater than any other since the 1994 baseball strike.

LENO'S RATINGS SAG FURTHER: AND NOW THE BAD NEWS

NBC's flagship station in Los Angeles has seen its ratings for its 11:00 p.m. newscast drop 26 percent since The Jay Leno show began airing nightly at 10:00 p.m. last month. At the same time, the competing KCBS telecast at 11:00 p.m. has seen a 20-percent lift in its ratings. KABC remained the leader in the time period, but its ratings were down 14 percent from last year. Other NBC-owned stations in major markets have been reporting substantial ratings declines for their local post-Leno newscasts. WNBC, NBC's outlet in New York, has seen its ratings drop 25 percent, leaving it in fourth place, behind even the Spanish-language broadcaster in the market. Meanwhile some analysts are urging that NBC move local news to 10:00 and air Leno between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Local NBC affiliates are likely to begin clamoring for swift change as Leno's ratings continue to tank. On Monday night, they dropped to their lowest yet as just 4.6 million tuned in.

NCIS ON TOP FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT WEEK

CBS's NCIS reaffirmed its status as the top hit of the current season as it headed Nielsen's ratings list for the fifth consecutive week, attracting 21.3 million viewers. Its spinoff, NCIS Los Angeles also reestablished itself as the season's top newcomer, coming in third with 16.5 million viewers. Another twofer for the week turned out to be the two installments of Dancing With the Stars, which counted 16.8 million viewers for its Monday-night performance show and 14.9 million for its results show on Tuesday.

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

1. NCIS, CBS, 13.0/21; 2. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 110./17; 3. NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, 10.2/16; 4. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 9.8/15; 5. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 9.7/15; 6. MLB American League Championship Series (Game 6), Fox, 9.3/15; 7. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 9.1/15; 8. Criminal Minds, CBS, 9.0/14; 8. (Tie) Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9.0/14; 8. (Tie) The OT, Fox, 9.0/15.

FORMER FEMALE LETTERMAN WRITER SPEAKS OUT

A former female writer on David Letterman's talk show (when it aired on NBC) has claimed that not only was the talk show host having sexual relationships with female staffers at the time (1988) but that other "high-level male employees" were as well. In an article appearing in the online edition of Vanity Fair, the writer, Nell Scovell, claims that the female employees who were having affairs with the male higher-ups permitted them to "wield power disproportionate to their job titles" and created "a hostile work environment" for those who did not. Scovell said that such "sexual politics" played a major part in her decision to quit the show after five months. Scovell claims that no female writer currently works on the Letterman show -- and that none works on The Jay Leno Show or the Tonight show either. Scovell, who created the Sabrina, the Teenage Witch series and has written for Murphy Brown, Monk, and NCIS, complains that male domination of writing staffs continues "partly because the shows often rely on current (white male) writers to recommend their funny (white male) friends to be future (white male) writers."

NIMOY LIKELY TO QUIT FRINGE

Leonard Nimoy has indicated that he is not likely to return as the mysterious character William Bell on the J.J. Abrams series Fringe, who is more talked about than seen on the series. "I don't know yet what plans they have for really developing a dramatic story for the character. I'm waiting for a conversation about that," he told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times. "I think they're talking amongst themselves now so they can present some kind of plan, a story arc of some kind." The 78-year-old Nimoy, who insists he prefers pursuing his hobby of photography to acting these days -- an exhibit of his work is scheduled to open at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on October 31 -- told the Times that he agreed to make three appearances on Fringe. "I don't know if I will do a fourth."