SOUTHLAND GOES SOUTH

NBC on Thursday canceled Southland, the TV drama that replaced long-running E.R. on its Thursday-night schedule last season. Today's (Friday) New York Times reported that six new episodes of the series had already been produced for the new season but decided to drop the season before its planned season debut on Oct. 23. The Wall Street Journal reported that after NBC executives screened the episodes, they concluded that "the show's content was deemed too dark and gritty for broadcast TV, especially for 9:00 p.m." (NBC is devoting its 10:00 p.m. hour on week days to the Jay Leno Show and has shown no sign of willingness at present to cut back on the number of Leno's nightly telecasts.) The New York Times noted that "several network executives have said that they do not believe darker shows can be successful on network television right now." However, the newspaper noted, corporate sibling Universal Television produces one of TV's biggest hits, Fox TV's House, "and it has explored some of the darkest themes on television in recent years." Meanwhile, John Wells, who exec produced E.R. as well as Southland, issued a statement saying that he was disappointed in NBC's decision and that he is "actively looking for another home for the series."

BASEBALL RATINGS ON STEROIDS (PLAYERS ARE NOT)

Day one of Major League Baseball's postseason saw ratings fly out of the park, particularly among younger viewers. Among viewers 18-34, the number of viewers climbed 32 percent over last year. The League Division Series triple header produced the biggest audience for TBS this year and was the most-watched day one of the LDS since 2005, according to Nielsen research. The three games averaged 4.93 million, with 6.6 million tuning in for the Minnesota Twins/New York Yankees game in primetime, up 23 percent over last year's opener in the same time period. Earlier in the day, the Cardinals/Dodgers game drew 4.97 million viewers, up 12 percent from last year, while the Rockies/Phillies game was even with last year.

CNN "FACT CHECKS" SNL OBAMA SKETCH

Wolf Blitzer and CNN were being skewered Thursday for "fact checking" a Saturday Night Live sketch in which a faux President Obama, played by Fred Armisen, begins an address to the nation by saying that he doesn't understand why his critics have been so hard on him. "When you look at my record it's very clear what I've done so far -- and that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it. Take a look at this checklist ...Looking at this list I see two big accomplishments: Jack and Squat." (The sketch quickly went viral, with hundreds of thousands viewing it on YouTube and Hulu.) But CNN's apparent criticism of the SNL sketch in its fact checking segment aired on Blitzer's show confounded some media critics. James Taranto said in a column on the Wall Street Journal's website, "'Fact checking' a comedy sketch is a bizarre exercise in itself." He then noted that if CNN had done the same thing back in the 1970s, "we would have known that Gerald Ford wasn't really as clumsy as Chevy Chase's portrayal of him, that Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin weren't really two wild and crazy guys from Czechoslovakia, and that Jane Curtin is not an ignorant slut." One person, posting a high-definition version of the sketch on YouTube today (Friday), remarked, "You know you've got a good gig when you can be skewered like this, and still win the Nobel Peace Prize."

MURDOCH CALLS FOR CHINA TO OPEN DOORS FOR TV, MOVIES

Rupert Murdoch has demanded that China end its restrictions on the import of motion pictures and television programs. "China will ultimately decide its own fate, but unless the digital door is opened, opportunities will be lost and potential will not be realized," he said in an address today (Friday) at the World Media Summit in Beijing. Murdoch also called on China to clamp down on the rampant piracy that notoriously exists throughout the country. He suggested that piracy not only affects companies like his own, which owns Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Television, but China's film studios as well, saying that it "will make it difficult for them to generate the profits at home that would fuel growth abroad."