ALL EYES ON LENO TONIGHT
Jay Leno is expected to draw huge ratings tonight (Monday) for the launch of his Jay Leno Show, with Jerry Seinfeld as his first guest. The question throughout the industry is, how big will those ratings remain as curiosity fades in the days and weeks ahead, and will they cannibalize the Tonight show's, with Leno's successor, Conan O'Brien. Commenting on the debut, Advertising Age observed that, because it is relatively inexpensive to produce, the Leno show does not have to become a big hit. "It just has to beat its budget. Welcome to the future of broadcast." But the Hollywood Reporter wondered editorially, "If NBC winds up with significantly lower average ratings at 10 p.m. with "Leno" and 11:35 p.m. with "Tonight" under O'Brien, will anybody outside of NBC consider the maneuvering a success?"
WILL FOX "PURGE" GERALDO?
Speculation that Geraldo Rivera's days on the Fox News Channel may be numbered arose over the weekend as Rivera himself acknowledged on his "Geraldo at Large" program that he has found himself increasingly "out of sync" with the rest of FNC's right-leaning personalities. On the program, which featured as a guest conservative commentator Ann Coulter, Rivera read an email that he had received from a viewer calling him "a bad apple" among the channel's lineup. "You don't fit," the viewer wrote. "Ann Coulter is right. You must be from MSNBC or CNBC. Please go somewhere else." When Rivera turned to Coulter, she responded, "Are you expecting me to defend you from this? Cause it's not gonna [happen.]" Rivera laughed, then quipped, "Et tu Brute?" The segment was later posted on YouTube under the title, "Fox Viewers & Ann Coulter Ready to Purge Geraldo."
VAMPIRE DIARIES DRAWS BLOOD ON THURSDAY
America's current fascination with vampires was demonstrated again on Thursday when The Vampire Diaries delivered the largest audience ever for the CW. The premiere of the series attracted 4.8 million viewers, particularly impressive given the fact that it aired opposite Big Brother, which is drawing the biggest audiences in the history of the reality series (Thursday's recorded 7.6 million viewers) and NBC's telecast of the NFL pregame show and kickoff, which drew 12.25 million viewers in the 8:00 hour. Diaries also attracted the most teenage girls of any show airing on Thursday. The big winner, of course, was the Tennessee-Pittsburgh NFL telecast, which averaged 18.85 million viewers, peaking in the 9:30 p.m. half hour with 20.13 million.
BRITAIN LIKELY TO ALLOW PRODUCT PLACEMENTS
The British government is expected to lift the ban on product placements this week, reports published in London Sunday newspapers said, presumably leaking comments from a speech that Culture Minister Ben Bradshaw is expected to deliver to a convention of the Royal Television Society on Wednesday. Removing the ban is expected to apply only to commercial broadcasters and not to the BBC. It would also remain in place for children's shows. Peter Bazalgette, the former head of British reality-show producer Endemol, whose programs include such international hits as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Wipeout, wrote in the London Sunday Mirror that the move was "hugely overdue." He warned, however, that if product-placement is "overdone or tasteless, viewers will switch off." He noted that such ads already appear on British TV via U.S. movies. "And what about those sports events where sponsors' logos are worn on shirts?"
BBC MAY SELL PART OF BBC WORLDWIDE
The BBC is considering selling off at least part of its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, BBC director Mark Thompson has disclosed. In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper, Thompson said that the financially strapped, publicly supported broadcaster has to "look at over this period is whether 100% ownership of Worldwide is essential going forward." Thompson, however, ruled out a possible merger of BBC Worldwide with the government-owned commercial broadcaster Channel 4.
COLLEAGUES MOURN DEATH OF LARRY GELBART
Tributes poured in over the weekend to Larry Gelbart, best known as the creator of the M*A*S*H* TV series, who died Friday of cancer at age 81. Many of them came from fellow writers on the classic NBC variety show Caesar's Hour, a spin-off of the early hit Your Show of Shows. Mel Brooks said that Gelbart "had class, he had wit, he had style and grace. He was a marvelous writer who could do more with words than anybody I ever met." Carl Reiner told the Los Angeles Times, "He was a comedy prodigy who developed into a national treasure. The man was one of the most gifted satirists who ever lived." And Woody Allen called him, "the best comedy writer that I ever knew." In a statement, Alan Alda, who starred in M*A*S*H*, remarked, "Larry's genius for writing changed my life because I got to speak his lines -- lines that were so good they'll be with us for a long, long time; but his other genius -- his immense talent for being good company -- is a light that's gone out and we're all sitting here in the dark."
"FATHER OF GRAMMYS" DIES AT 85
Pierre Cossette, the TV producer credited with creating the annual Grammy Awards in 1971 and producing the awards telecast until 2005, died Friday of congestive heart failure at age 85. In a statement on Friday, Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), referred to Cossette as the "father of the Grammy Awards."