OPRAH REMAINS TV'S TOP EARNER

Television networks may spend the lion's share of their budgets on primetime television shows, but if you're a TV personality, the big bucks are not in primetime, judging from Forbes magazine's latest list of television's top-earning performers. Topping the TV20 list once again is Oprah Winfrey, who earned $260 million between June 2006 and June 2007. Somewhat surprisingly Jerry Seinfeld comes in a distant second with $60 million, most of it earned from syndication. No. 3 on the list, with $45 million, is Simon Cowell, the judge and co-producer of Fox's American Idol. No. 4, with $40 million, is David Letterman. Donald Trump, the only billionaire on the list besides Oprah, earned $32 million from his The Apprentice shows, to land at No. 5. Only one TV network anchor made the list -- Katie Couric, who came in at No. 14 with 15 million. But her former Today co-host, Matt Lauer also made the list with $13 million, while Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer tied for No. 18 with $12 million. Meredith Vieira, who replaced Couric on Today, entered the list for the first time, coming in at No. 20 with $10 million. The only primetime actor to land on the Forbes' list was Keifer Sutherland, star of Fox's 24.

HDTV? WHAT'S THAT?

Nine out of ten consumers are confused about what HDTV actually is, with 40 percent unaware that they must have a special HDTV receiver to view high-definition programming. Even among those who own HDTV sets, 44 percent do not know that they must use a special player, such as a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, and special discs in order to view recorded movies in high definition on their sets. The survey results were published Thursday by the retailer Best Buy, which said that it had polled 1,012 adults across the country.

CBS ADS TO APPEAR -- AND DISAPPEAR -- ON SUPERMARKET FREEZERS

CBS is taking an untraditional approach to promoting some of its fall programming, Advertising Age noted on its website today (Friday). For example, supermarket shoppers will see an image of the lead character in its vampire drama Moonlight when they open the door of the freezers in some frozen-food sections. Survivor: China ads will be appearing on take-out containers at many Chinese-food restaurants. And ads for the new series Cane will be popping up on sugar packets. It's all part of a strategy to "get people when they are least expecting messages about entertainment, but they are very receptive to them," CBS Marketing President George Schweitzer told AdAge.

CHEVRON COMMERCIAL TO LAST 2 1/2 MINUTES

A single commercial for Chevron will occupy the entire 2 1/2-minute commercial break at the beginning of 60 Minutes on CBS Sunday night, carrying the theme, "The power of human energy." It's part of the oil company's current campaign spotlighting the energy issue, the New York Times observed today. It quoted Helen Clark, a Chevron executive who is overseeing the campaign, as saying that the issue is "a complex subject" that is "hard to get across in a 30-second spot." Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer for the McGarry Bowen ad agency, which created the spot, added: "We were taking a point of view that needed some thought and education, so 30 seconds was just not the right vehicle."

NICKELODEON TO GO DARK SATURDAY

The kids' TV channel Nickelodeon is planning to intentionally go dark on Saturday at noon, with announcers telling their audience, "Go outside and play." The channel plans to remain dark for three hours, after which Nickelodeon says it will air Let's Play Go Healthy Challenge, produced in cooperation with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH CHIEF CRITICIZES AHMADINEJAD COVERAGE

The managing director of Al Jazeera English has called U.S. television coverage of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearances at the U.N. and Columbia University this week "abysmally one-sided" and suggested that the Qatar-based channel could serve as "an alternative voice" to such coverage. (Al Jazeera English is currently not carried by any major cable provider.) In an interview with the online trade publication Multichannel News, Nigel Parsons said, "I'm not defending him as necessarily a good guy, but I'm not rushing to judgment on him either." He was particularly critical of standard assertions by U.S. TV reporters that Ahmadinejad had called the Holocaust a myth. [In fact his words have more often appeared to be deliberately ambiguous or vacillatory, as when he told his Columbia audience last week, "Our friends refer to 1930 as the point of the departure for this development; however, I believe the Holocaust, from what we read, happened during World War II -- after 1930 -- in the 1940s."] Meanwhile, UPI reports that a TV series airing on state-run television in Iran, based on the actions of Iranian diplomats who helped Jews escape from Germany during WWII by providing them with Iranian passports, has become a "massive hit" in the country.

Brian B.