NETWORKS RELIEVED BY EARLY RATINGS
Despite mostly negative critical reaction to the networks' new programs for the fall, ratings indicate that after the first two weeks of the season it all amounts to "so far so good." Broadcasting & Cable observed that the mere fact that no "precipitous ratings declines" occurred in week two -- after viewers got their first look at the new fare -- "represents success so far." Particularly impressive, the trade publication noted, was the performance of CBS, which saw NCIS rise to the top of the ratings list even though the unheralded show is in its sixth season. Even more impressive is that spinoff NCIS Los Angeles remains the top newcomer of the season, ranking just behind NCIS itself. Oddly, the network is showing its greatest weakness on Thursday night -- a night it once dominated. Last week ABC's FlashForward tied CBS's Survivor at 8:00 p.m., while ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice beat CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Mentalist.
U.S. TV SHOWS A HIT OVERSEAS -- ON PIRATE SITES
American TV shows, which ordinarily don't wind up on TV channels overseas until weeks -- and often months -- after they are broadcast in the U.S., are being pirated by the truckload abroad, the website TorrentFreakindicated today (Monday). The online publication that tracks BitTorrent usage said that "several million" people are now using BitTorrent clients to download U.S. TV shows. It noted that in the past year traffic to EZTV has risen 50 percent to 15 million visitors, with Australians representing an especially large share of the illegal downloaders. Heroes continues to be the most downloaded TV series, according to TorrentFreak, followed by House, The Big Bang Theory, Entourage, and How I Met Your Mother.
ANNE FRANK GOES VIRAL
Anne Frank, whose World War II diary became a best seller after the war and later an award winning play, movie, and TV miniseries, has now become an Internet star. A short video of the doomed Jewish teenager, whose family went into hiding during the war but were discovered as the war drew to a close and sent off to concentration camps, has attracted nearly two million viewers since it was posted on YouTube last week. The 20-second clip, was provided by the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. It shows her at a wedding, looking at the married couple from a balcony.
LETTERMAN ZINGED BY FELLOW LATE-NIGHT HOSTS
David Letterman got a taste of his own schtick from fellow late-night hosts and Saturday Night Live following his admission that he had had sex with members of his staff and was being blackmailed. Jay Leno, whose TV show now airs in primetime, got off the first jab, telling his studio audience, "If you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host, you've got the wrong studio." Later he remarked that he himself had once become a victim of an extortion plot. "How do you think NBC got me to do a ten o'clock show?" NBC's Late Night host Jimmy Fallon later quipped: "There's a new book out called 'Why Women Have Sex' that says there are 237 reasons why women have sex. And folks, Letterman knows the top 10." But when guest Drew Carey brought up the subject on the Tonight show with Conan O'Brien, O'Brien tersely remarked, "No comment." Meanwhile, Professor Robert Thompson, director of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, commented in a New York Times report about the Letterman matter that it was unlikely that Letterman would be harmed by the revelations. "His core viewers are not the kind that are going to say, 'He did what? I'm never going to watch again.' He was not the host of a Disney Channel talk show," he said.
GERMAN MEDIA MOGUL MOHN DEAD AT 88
Reinhard Mohn, who fashioned Bertelsmann into Europe's mightiest media company and accumulated billions of dollars in wealth in the process, died Saturday at age 88. In a statement, Hartmut Ostrowski, the company's current CEO, said that it had "lost an entrepreneur and benefactor par excellence." The company was founded by Mohn's great-great-grandfather, but it was Mohn who after World War II lifted it into the great powerhouse that it remains with assets that include Germany's RTL, Europe's largest broadcaster and production company (it's the parent of the company that produces American Idol and similar Idol shows in 50 countries), U.S. publisher Random House.