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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 9

post #241 of 93656
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
FX to Renew "Dirt", "Riches";
Unveil Glenn Close Vehicle "Damages"
By Anthony Crupi MediaWeek April 25, 2007

FX is expected to renew its newest series, Dirt and The Riches, bringing the number of original dramas on the network's prime time schedule to six.

We're really happy with the performance of Dirt and The Riches, and I expect them to return, said John Landgraf, president and general manager, FX Networks, before an upfront screening of FX's latest drama, the Glenn Close legal thriller, Damages.

Landgraf added that when each show's cumulative ratings are tallied up--FX programs three weekly repeat episodes of each of its original premieres--both series have delivered ratings on a par with older hits like Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck.

In order to set the table for the Damages screening, Landgraf offered a précis of the last six years at the network, pointing out that since 2001, FX has grown from the twelfth most-watched cable channel among adults 18-49 to its present perch, at fourth place.

Set to premiere in July, Damages stars Close as the formidable litigator Patty Hewes. The actress has worked with FX in the recent past, having played the role of Capt. Monica Rawling throughout season four of The Shield (2005). Landraf said the legal genre has been a tough nut for FX to crack, estimating that since coming aboard in 2004, he's looked at more than 20 different scripts before Damages crossed his desk.

While Landgraf praised the pilot's intricate storyline and whiplash plot reversals, he acknowledged that even the renowned Close could pose a few challenges as the series' star. We had questions about putting a 50-something actress in the lead role, and how that might jibe with the FX brand.

(Close is actually 60.)

Those initial worries aside, it appears that Close and FX are a match. According to Landgraf, 81 percent of the preview audience that screened the pilot earlier this year said that Damages would best jibe with the FX brand, beating out all other networks, including HBO, TNT and USA.

Moreover, FX isn't just a boys' club anymore. Of the overall ratings growth the network has seen over the last five years, 54 percent of the viewership gains can be chalked up to a female-skewing audience drawn in by shows like Nip/Tuck and Dirt.

That said, when The Shield finally retires next year after seven seasons on the job, FX will look to do another male-skewing cop show, Landgraf said.

post #242 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Tuesday's final Nielsen national ratings
(From Travis Yanan) at Marc Berman's Programming Insider blog:

American Idol
- 26.548 million viewers
- 15.7/25 HH
- 10.0/28 A18-49

House (9:02, 60 minutes)
- 20.805 million viewers
- 12.6/19 HH
- 8.4/21 A18-49

Dancing with the Stars
- 16.563 million viewers
- 10.8/16 HH
- 4.2/11 A18-49

- 14.169 million viewers
- 9.0/14 HH
- 3.2/9 A18-49

The Unit
- 9.831 million viewers
- 6.2/9 HH
- 2.9/7 A18-49

Boston Legal (10:01pm)
- 9.536 million viewers
- 6.5/11 HH
- 2.3/6 A18-49

George Lopez (8:30pm)
- 4.890 million viewers
- 3.3/5 HH
- 1.7/4 A18-49

George Lopez (8pm)
- 4.454 million viewers
- 3.1/5 HH
- 1.5/4 A18-49

Gilmore Girls
- 3.746 million viewers
- 2.6/4 HH
- 1.7/5 A18-49
- 1.9/6 A18-34

Pussy Cat Dolls (season finale)
- 3.428 million viewers
- 2.5/4 HH
- 1.6/4 A18-49
- 2.1/6 A18-34

The Shield (FX)
- 1.968 million viewers
- 1.3/2 HH
- 0.9/3 A18-49

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
post #243 of 93656
Drudge Report
Alec Baldwin Tapes Interview; Wants Out of TV
Wed Apr 25 2007 17:04:40 ET

Alec Baldwin has taped an interview with Rosie O'Donnell for ABC's VIEW, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

O'Donnell told the studio audience off camera that this will be the actor's only interview.

"He is leaving the country," O'Donnell told a stunned audience, says a source. [It was not clear if it was for vacation or an extended period of time.]

She said she advised Baldwin against doing the interview.


During the session, to air Friday, Baldwin apologized for his tirade against his daughter.

He also explained how he wants out of the TV business:

"I have been in the business for over 27 years and I don't care if I do anything else in TV ever again."

Baldwin left CREATIVE ARTISTS AGENCY on Monday. No reason for the split was provided.


post #244 of 93656
As an actor, he may be missed some. As a person, not so much.
post #245 of 93656
Thread Starter 
That certainly isn't going to help the prospects for "30 Rock".

I wonder if NBC's renewal can be rescinded if Baldwin doesn't return for season two?
post #246 of 93656
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

That certainly isn't going to help the prospects for "30 Rock".

I wonder if NBC's renewal can be rescinded if Baldwin doesn't return for season two?

No kidding. 30 Rock without Baldwin would be a tough sell for me. He is the shining light in the show.
post #247 of 93656
everybody is replaceable. they could easily write baldwin out and bring in a new character to fill that role. as long as they are smart about it (hint, don't bring in heather locklear or jon lovitz as a replacement). someone like andy richter could bring a new twist.
post #248 of 93656
for those that were concerned with NBC plastering the VT killer all over their media outlets, this may be the last time a major broadcast outlet gets such an opportunity.... it is sort of the reason they had to stoop so low, as they are trying to become relevant again.

i'm gambling the next 'rampager' will go straight to youtube

it appears that those losing touch with reality are not always on the leading edge along with their peers, otherwise it would have happened this time.

i would also gamble we might get first person POV footage from the dopes camera phone; maybe even real time footage from him spouting during a police stand off
post #249 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
FCC Adopts DTV-Related Items
By John Eggerton Broadcasting & Cable 4/25/2007

The FCC, in a long-delayed public meeting, took a number of steps late Wednesday to advance the DTV transition.

The commissioners voted unanimously, but not without some dissent and caveat, to adopt the items.

No discouraging word was heard on the unanimous decision to require analog TV sets to carry labels letting viewers know they will become useless after February 2009.

There was less unanimity on a proposal to define signal degradation and viewability as it pertains to cable's carriage of a broadcaster's TV signal after the transition to digital.

The FCC is seeking comment on whether requiring cable to carry TV station signals in both analog and digital formats after the transition is necessary to meet the 1992 Cable Act's requirement that cable must deliver a "viewable" signal of any station opting for mandatory carriage (must-carry).

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein pointed out that the commission had earlier rejected the dual carriage proposal, and should "fully consider the consequences" before trying again.

He also suggested there was some disconnect with the FCC forcing either dual carriage or expensive set-top converters (to covert its digital signal to analog) while at the same time not allowing cable to provide lower-cost set tops.

Commissioner Robert McDowell said that while the commission needs to insure that cable subs get access to higher quality DTV signals, he said he wished the commission had refrained from offering any specific proposals.

He also said he had questions about mandating carriage in both analog and digital.

Chairman Kevin Martin did not share those reservations, saying that cable should not be allowed to "just cut off signals" and said that he didn't think that consumers should be "forced to rent a set-top box."

post #250 of 93656
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Critic’s Notebook
What's on TV?
How should you know?
By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle Television Critic Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dedicated TV enthusiasts will certainly rejoice as they get new gadgets like flat-screen plasmas. They will one day believe that Apple TV or TiVo or Slingbox is awesome. Being able to watch online for free with pristine picture quality -- yes! More and newer widgets and options will make all of our lives super enjoyable and efficient.

Now will someone tells us when our shows are on? Or why they disappeared? When are they coming back? Are they canceled? Moved to a new night? New time? Hello?

There is a great and troubling disconnect between the people who make and air television and those who sit down on plump couches and big chairs to watch it. This has nothing to do with cutting-edge technology. It has to do with a basic lack of understanding on the viewers' part when it comes to what the networks and cable channels are doing.

. . .


I think this thread goes a long way in providing this kind of information. Thanks, fredfa for all the work you put into keeping it updated.
post #251 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
Why Won't NBC Let Alec Baldwin Walk?
By Nikki Finke LA Weekly in her deadlinehollywooddaily blog Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I find this inexcusable: NBC is on the verge of forcing an actor to perform against his will.

It's not like the pain-in-the-ass Alec Baldwin wants to go off and do movies instead of TV. No, if he is to be taken at his word, Baldwin claims he wants to quit acting and take 3-to-5 years off from showbiz to focus on the problem of divorced parents and their children since he's in the middle of that child custody battle with actress Kim Basinger.

Baldwin told The View in a pre-taped interview airing tomorrow that he has asked NBC to let him out of his 30 Rock contract.

But NBC is saying no. "Alec Baldwin remains an important part of 30 Rock. We look forward to having him continue his role in the show," the network said in a statement today.

Yesterday the actor fired his agent CAA and told The View: "If I never acted again I couldn't care less."

Baldwin's extreme behavior follows the broadcast of that abusive voicemail message he left for his daughter calling her a "rude, thoughtless little pig" and other insults.

On The View, the actor apologizes. But NBC shouldn't refuse Baldwin's request. True, he may regret his decision to leave 30 Rock when the ruckus dies down.

But that's his problem, not the network's.

Baldwin is certainly not irreplaceable. (Hire Steven Weber.)
post #252 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Thanks, RussB!
post #253 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
F.C.C. Moves to Restrict TV Violence
Agency Also Suggests Congress Back A La Carte
By Stephen Labaton The New York Times April 26, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 25 Â Concerned about an increase in violence on television, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday urged lawmakers to consider regulations that would restrict violent programs to late evening, when most children would not be watching.

The commission, in a long-awaited report, concluded that the program ratings system and technology intended to help parents block offensive programs  like the V-chip  had failed to protect children from being regularly exposed to violence.

As a result, the commission recommended that Congress move to limit violence on entertainment programs by giving the agency the authority to define such content and restrict it to late evening television.

It also suggested that Congress adopt legislation that would give consumers the option to buy cable channels ÂÃ* la carte  individually or in smaller bundles  so that they would be able to reject channels they did not want.

ÂClearly, steps should be taken to protect children from excessively violent programming, said Kevin J. Martin, the agencyÂ's chairman and a longtime proponent of Ã* la carte programming. ÂSome might say such action is long overdue. Parents need more tools to protect children from excessively violent programming.Â

The commission report, which was requested by Congress three years ago, was sharply criticized by civil liberties advocates and by the cable television industry for proposing steps that both said would be too intrusive.

ÂThese F.C.C. recommendations are political pandering, said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union. ÂThe government should not replace parents as decision makers in AmericaÂ's living rooms. There are some things that the government does well. But deciding what is aired and when on television is not one of them.Â

She added: ÂGovernment should not parent the parents.Â

A spokesman at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Brian Dietz, said consumers Âare the best judge of which content is appropriate for their household.Â

ÂSimple-sounding solutions, such as Ã* la carte regulation of cable TV packages, are misguided and would endanger cableÂ's high-quality family-friendly programming, leaving parents and children with fewer viewing options, he said.

Executives at the major networks said that they wanted to study the report, which was released Wednesday evening, before commenting.

A spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, Dennis Wharton, said that broadcast television was Âfar more tame than programming found on pay TV in terms of both sex and violence.Â

Noting that the association, along with all the networks and major cable groups, is in the middle of a $300 million marketing effort to help educate parents about the V-chip and other technology to block programs, Mr. Wharton said, ÂShould this not be given a chance to work?Â

The report and accompanying recommendations set the stage for a political battle between the commission and three powerful interest groups  the broadcasters, the cable TV industry and satellite television.

It comes on the heels of efforts by the agency to penalize radio and television stations for violating the indecency rule. Those penalties have been challenged in courts on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment.

The outcome of the cases, which could wind up in the United States Supreme Court, could determine whether the government would have the authority to impose limits on violent programs.

The report said that research on whether violent programming had caused children to act more aggressively was inconclusive. But it also cited studies, including one by the surgeon general, that say exposure to violent content has been associated with increased aggression or violent behavior in children, at least in the short term.

It said that the V-chip and other blocking technology had failed because, according to recent studies, nearly 9 out of 10 parents do not use them And the ratings system was of limited use, the study found, because less than half of parents surveyed had used it.

In addition, many also believed the ratings were inaccurate. Mr. Martin and other supporters of Ã* la carte programming say that it would be easier to put in place than content-based regulations because it would not face the same First Amendment challenges.

ÂThere is no First Amendment right to get paid for your channels, Mr. Martin said. ÂAll of the versions of Ã* la carte would keep government out of regulating content directly while enabling consumers, including parents, to receive the programming they want and believe to be appropriate for their families.Â

The groups supporting such an approach range from Consumers Union to the Parents Television Council, an organization that has lobbied for more stringent penalties for obscene and violent programs.

But such a proposal faces formidable obstacles in Congress because of the influence of the industries involved. The cable industry has fought hard against new regulations and has said that attempts to force Ã* la carte programs would prompt the closing of many educational and local stations.

The broadcasters say that it would be difficult to formulate a definition of Âviolence and that tougher regulations could wind up censoring otherwise legitimate programs.

But Mr. Martin rejected that argument, noting that the industry has already formulated ratings to describe the level of violence in programs, and therefore government-imposed limits on when programs could run would be constitutional.

A leading sponsor of efforts to force cable companies to offer Ã* la carte services has been Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. But he is spending less time in Congress these days as he begins his campaign for president.

post #254 of 93656
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
Movies, minis take May off
Networks stick to series for sweeps
By Rick Kiseell Variety

The May sweeps kick off Thursday night with a lot less pomp and circumstance of past years.

Sure, there'll be two-hour finales for faves such as "American Idol," "24" and "Lost" and cliffhanger twists on most other series, but the relative lack of big-ticket events is quite noticeable. And it continues a recent trend, as the broadcast nets opt to let their bread-and-butter series speak during the ratings periods.

Original movies, one of the mainstays of sweeps months in past years, is virtually absent from the month.

CBS will air the latest in a line of "Jesse Stone" movies starring Tom Selleck on May 20, but it's being used in something of a defensive manner, opposite the season-ender of ABC's "Desperate Housewives."

But that's it. Recent May misfires like CBS' "Elvis," ABC's "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" and NBC's sequel to "10.5 The Apocalypse" apparently got the network suits skittish about devoting many resources to longform product in May.

There are a few theatrical premieres during the month ("Along Came Polly" on NBC, "Meet the Fockers" on ABC and "The Day After Tomorrow" on Fox), but the bar has been set low in each case. "Polly" will play on Sunday, where the Peacock has struggled since football season ended; "Fockers" bows on little-watched Saturday; and "Tomorrow" will look for ratings crumbs opposite the finales of "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" on May 17, the final Thursday of the season.

The few other specials are highlighted by NBC's best-of-the'90s "Saturday Night Live" compilation on May 6; the final primetime edition of CBS' "The Price Is Right" featuring Bob Barker as host on May 16; and ABC's one-hour "National Bingo Night" on May 18.

Among the series that could help their cause considerably by performing well in the sweep are CBS' "Jericho," "The Unit," "Close to Home" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and ABC's "Notes From the Underbelly." Bubble shows on other nets, including "'Til Death" on Fox and "Friday Night Lights" on NBC, have already ended their runs.

As for the season races that coincide with the end of the sweep on May 23, Fox will win for a third straight season among adults 18-49 while CBS will prevail in total viewers for a fifth straight year.

post #255 of 93656
Thread Starter 
A Reminder
May Sweep Starts Tonight

There will be few repeats in the next four weeks.

So if your DVR or TiVo is close to its capacity, and especially if you have a number of season passes, it might be time to do some pruning of shows you no longer care strongly about watching.
post #256 of 93656
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
30 Rock's Alec Baldwin
Amid Publicity About Tirade, Actor Asks to Leave 30 Rock'
By Bill Carter The New York Times April 26, 2007

NBC was hit yesterday with the news that one of its important stars, Alec Baldwin, who plays a lead role in the network's promising new comedy 30 Rock, had asked to be let out of his contract on the show.

The network immediately expressed confidence that Mr. Baldwin would return to the show next season. The news came after a whirlwind of negative publicity directed at Mr. Baldwin for a tirade of anger he unleashed at his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, in a message recorded on a phone answering machine.

Mr. Baldwin, who is in the midst of a long and bitter custody battle with Ireland's mother, the actress Kim Basinger, called his daughter a thoughtless little pig in the voice mail message, which was leaked to the press last week.

Mr. Baldwin was upset because his daughter had not called him as arranged. Ms. Basinger denied leaking the message. On his Web site, Mr. Baldwin issued an apology for his outburst.

Mr. Baldwin had already announced this week that he was quitting his talent agency, Creative Artists. His press representative said that the decision was made for personal reasons and said it was not related to the work of his agents.

Mr. Baldwin contacted NBC yesterday and said he wanted to discontinue his commitment to 30 Rock, which is shot in New York.

NBC executives reacted by urging him not to do anything hasty. They said last night that they had no doubt he would remain in the role of Jack Donaghy.

In an official statement, NBC said: Alec Baldwin remains an important part of 30 Rock.' We look forward to having him continue in the role.

30 Rock, despite struggling in the ratings this season, is an important show for NBC because it has been praised by critics and has had good word-of-mouth reaction from its fans. Mr. Baldwin's performance has won almost universal praise, and he won a Golden Globe award for playing the character.

Neither Mr. Baldwin nor his press representative could be reached for comment. But NBC executives said they were aware that Mr. Baldwin taped an appearance for ABC's The View, scheduled to be shown tomorrow morning, during which he stated that he intended to end his television career and might leave the country.

Mr. Baldwin, 49, the eldest of four acting brothers from Long Island, had issued a statement before the 2004 election saying that he would leave the country if President Bush were re-elected. Mr. Baldwin did not change his residence.

One senior NBC executive said: We think this is an emotional moment for him. We're confident he'll be back. He's still under contract.

post #257 of 93656
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
Baldwin: I want off '30 Rock'
By Donna Freydkin USA TODAY (Contributing: Bill Keveney)

You'll still know Jack.

Donaghy, that is, the mercurial boss played by Alec Baldwin on NBC's 30 Rock.

While taping an appearance on ABC's The View Wednesday, the actor who was caught berating his daughter Ireland, 11, in a voice mail message last week asked NBC to release him from his contract so he can focus his time on "parental alienation," according to a transcript released to the Associated Press.

"If I never acted again, I couldn't care less," Baldwin said in his taped appearance, scheduled to air Friday.

But NBC released a statement saying the star was staying put: "Alec Baldwin remains an important part of 30 Rock. We look forward to having him continue his role in the show."

As for that nasty phone message leaked to TMZ.com, Baldwin, 49, tried to explain his actions:

"Well, there's nothing wrong with being frustrated or angry about something," he said. "It's the way you do it, and as people often do in this world, I took it out on the wrong person because I'm unable, under the current dynamic, to address the other person."

What he said "was wrong," he conceded. Now, he says, he wants to concentrate on the problems faced by divorced parents and their children; he has a book coming out on the topic.

It has been a tumultuous time for Baldwin, who parted ways with his agents at CAA this week.

In the phone message, Baldwin calls his daughter from his marriage to Kim Basinger "a rude, thoughtless little pig." Shortly after the message surfaced, Baldwin posted an apology on his official website. Basinger, who has been involved in a nasty custody dispute with Baldwin since their divorce in 2002, has denied leaking the message.

Baldwin has been ordered to stay away from Ireland until a court hearing May 4.

30 Rock, a critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged part of NBC's key Thursday night comedy lineup, has been renewed for a second season. And much of its success is the result of Baldwin's performance as Tina Fey's devious boss.

On the show's Queens set, Baldwin is a formidable presence, and he shakes things up while shooting scenes, improvising dialogue and swapping out props.

"There's no question that he is if not the character with the most lines, certainly the central character around which all the others orbit," says Jonathan Wilcox, who teaches a course on celebrity and society at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication. "He's the comic foil, and he has created this strong comedic identity."

Baldwin's Golden Globe this year for 30 Rock signals he would be a serious candidate for Emmy consideration, Wilcox says. "Clearly, one leads to the other."

post #258 of 93656
Thread Starter 
The TV Column
Rosie O'Donnell Leaving ABC's 'The View'
By Lisa de Moraes Washington Post Columnist Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rosie O'Donnell's wild ride on "The View" is coming to an end, not even one year after it began.

"They wanted me three years, I wanted one year . . . it just didn't work. That's show business," she said at the top of yesterday's show.

Barbara Walters, the ABC daytime show's executive producer and on-air den mother, jumped in to make it "perfectly clear" that she had not participated in the negotiations to renew Rosie's contract.

"It was between [Rosie's] agents and ABC daytime. This was not my doing -- nor my choice," Walters said on-air, noting that it was she who had "induced" the longtime daytime talk show host to join "The View" gaggle.

Rosie, who replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host and moderator in September, will stick with the show until the end of June, Walters told the studio audience and viewers at home.

"Yes, per my contract," Rosie said, adding, "They're not kicking me out, don't worry."

Rosie has, in fact, been very very good for "The View." In the time she has been on the show, ratings among all viewers are up 17 percent compared with the same period of time in '06. And among women ages 18 to 34 -- the Holy Grail of daytime TV -- "The View" is up a whopping 20 percent with Rosie on board.

The Reporters Who Cover Television have had a full-time job keeping up with Rosie in her short 7 1/2 months on "The View."

Most famously, she traded insults with Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

That headline-grabbing war of words started in December, when Trump announced he would let then-Miss USA Tara Conner hang on to her crown in spite of reports of underage drinking, if she went into rehab.

The next day, Rosie called him a "snake-oil salesman" and said the twice-divorced Trump had no right to be a "moral compass" for the pageant winner.

Trump -- whose sagging NBC reality series "The Apprentice" was about to return -- retorted by calling her, repeatedly, fat and unattractive, sometimes adding "pig," and saying that he planned to send someone to lure away Rosie's partner, with whom she has four children. In the course of that media blitz, Trump also said that Walters told him she wanted to ditch O'Donnell. Walters has denied that claim.

Yesterday on "The View," co-host Joy Behar joked: "You know who's going to be really sad? Donald Trump." She speculated that he was, as she spoke, on a ledge, saying, "How am I going to resuscitate 'The Apprentice' now?"

Trump was not on a ledge at the time. He was talking about O'Donnell on Fox News Channel.

"I am not surprised. . . . Rosie is a very self-destructive person; she's a loser by any standard. I mean, she's got nothing going for her," he said.

"Rosie made Barbara look like a fool. She made her look like her lap dog. Barbara's the happiest person in the world that Rosie has been fired."

Then there was the time Rosie leapt to the defense of singer Clay Aiken, who while filling in for Regis Philbin on the syndicated talker "Regis & Kelly," jokingly put his hand over Kelly Ripa's mouth to get a word in edgewise. When Ripa stared daggers, Aiken said, "Oh, I'm in trouble!" and she shot back, "No, I just don't know where that hand's been, honey," which Rosie blasted the next day on "The View" as a "homophobic remark."

Kelly insisted it was a reference to it being cold and flu season; Rosie got attacked for having outed Aiken, who has refused to publicly discuss his sexuality; and the Internet was soon humming with video of Kelly putting her hand over Rege's mouth more than once on the air. Good times.

Hey, and how about the time Rosie went after "American Idol" for broadcasting the lousy auditions of two young men, one of whom had participated in the Special Olympics? The other had very large eyes that, "Idol" judge Simon Cowell said after the guy had left the room, made him look like an animal known as a bush baby.

Rosie assailed, among other things, the humiliation of "people who are obviously not capable to make a decision on whether or not they're strong enough to handle national humiliation."

A rep for Special Olympics International told The TV Column "Idol" should be commended for giving one of its former athletes the opportunity to be seen on national TV getting the Simon Cowell treatment. And both men segued from their lousy auditions to appearances on ABC's own Jimmy Kimmel-hosted late-night show, among other programs.

More recently, this past Monday in fact, Rosie made headlines with cracks about News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch -- and more about The Donald -- that she made at the annual New York Women in Communications luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.

"This is a celebration of women who changed the world and no one understands why Rupert Murdoch is on the dais," Rosie joked, according to news reports. She added: "I mean that in the kind, loving [New York] Post-like way, sir; it's delightful to see you in person."

Rosie's move yesterday was not entirely unexpected. There had been reports she was interested in having her own talk show, as she did from '96 through 2002, and had been tickled by feelers coming from the direction of Warner Bros., which produced "The Rosie O'Donnell Show."

Back in December '06, trade publication TV Week noted that Jim Paratore, who was president of Telepictures when that division produced Rosie's show, now heads Warner Bros.-based ParaMedia. That company is producing the upcoming newsmag "TMZ," based on the Time Warner Web site of the same name -- the Web site

* *

"American Idol" raised at least $30 million last night and no one went home. Yes, "Idol Gives Back" had absolutely nothing to do with the singing competition and a lot to do with the cluelessness of Hollywood celebrities, but mostly it was trying to overlook both and focus on the money being raised for needy children in Africa and here in the United States.

At the top of the show, host Ryan Seacrest was standing next to the six remaining Idolettes, all lined up, all wearing white pantsuits, like a Mr. Clean perp walk. Seacrest promised "the most shocking voting result in the show's history." He lied. Apparently the producers were worried you wouldn't stay tuned just to see Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Josh Groban, Earth, Wind & Fire, Annie Lennox, Il Divo, Celine Dion and Elvis Presley perform.

Yes, Elvis. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, he came back from the dead to sing a duet with Dion. Only he wasn't on a big screen, like when Natalie Cole sang that duet with her dear departed dad. Presley appeared to be right on stage with Dion and the Idolettes, singing his hit "If I Can Dream." It was a brilliant performance by Dion.

Some of the other, actually alive singers were also not actually at the Idol studio with Seacrest and gang. They performed instead from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A.; those bits were hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

After Tuesday's performance show, Seacrest said, more than 70 million votes were cast, which is a record. Fox parent company News Corp. is kicking in 10 cents per vote. But only for the first 50 million, which means $5 million. Your other 20 million votes didn't raise any money, because that would have cost News Corp. -- a company with a $3 billion cash flow last year and yes that's billion with a B -- another $2 million.

Did I mention that every three seconds, a child dies in extreme poverty? I learned that on "Idol Gives Back" last night.

For the next hour and 50-some minutes, we were treated/subjected to a hideous mix of excruciating video of mothers dying of AIDS and babies dying of malaria, interspersed with things like a video in which 35 celebrities sing and dance to -- and you have no idea how much I wish I was kidding -- the Bee Gees tune "Stayin' Alive."

On the bright side, you can download the video on iTunes and the money will go toward the fundraiser. Nope, I'm sorry, that doesn't make it any better. David Schwimmer, Hugh Laurie, Lisa Kudrow, Helen Mirren, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Hugh Grant, Teri Hatcher, Keira Knightley, Kirstie Alley, Miss Piggy -- shame on you.

post #259 of 93656
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Washington Notebook
FCC Adopts DTV-Related Items
By John Eggerton Broadcasting & Cable 4/25/2007

The FCC, in a long-delayed public meeting, took a number of steps late Wednesday to advance the DTV transition.

Commissioner Robert McDowell said that while the commission needs to insure that cable subs get access to higher quality DTV signals, he said he wished the commission had refrained from offering any specific proposals.

He also said he had questions about mandating carriage in both analog and digital.

Chairman Kevin Martin did not share those reservations, saying that cable should not be allowed to "just cut off signals" and said that he didn't think that consumers should be "forced to rent a set-top box."

I would think many people who don't care whether their TV is SD or HD would feel the same way Chairman Martin seems to feel about cable "just cut[ing] off signals" and then subs being "forced to rent a set-top box." With cable rates constantly rising, the public may feel that the government is sanctioning cable to rob them blind on this issue. But on the other hand, cable isn't stupid enough (I hope) to think they could get away with something like that.

I have said it before and I will say it again, this is a tempest in a tea pot. With all of the new competition cable has to deal with, the LAST thing they want to do is give people ANOTHER reason to leave and telling subs in order to continue to watch their legacy TV's they will have to pony up another $5 to $10 a month, per set to continue to watch those legacy TV's. It is cheaper and easier for the cableco's to just replumb the digital signal into the analog modulators and keep going. The numbers that would bolt would make the MediaComm/Sinclair issue look like a picnic. You just don't mess with people's TV's, no matter who you are. Martin and the Congress gets it. I have my doubts if Adelstein, Copps and McDowell gets it. They are too afraid something like mandating cable to provide service to legacy TV's some how morphs into a must carry of all digital channels. Clearly a different issue. As much as I would like to see that happen, that is quite a stretch. I ain't that gullable or stupid and I don't think anyone else is either.

Just my opinion.
post #260 of 93656
I'm amazed that cable companies are even considering dropping analog. If they keep providing it, they will have such a huge edge over all other tv providers (including OTA). I know the 3 TVs I have currently running without a cable box are one of the reasons I stick with cable despite my mostly hating them.
post #261 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
FCC says children still see too much violence on TV
An FCC study finds that children are still being exposed to gore
By Jim Puzzanghera Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 26, 2007

WASHINGTON Federal regulators have concluded that Hollywood's efforts to shield children from violent TV shows have failed and that Congress should authorize government action.

The Federal Communications Commission report, released Wednesday, promises to kick off a fierce fight on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail, one that, like the ongoing battle over indecency, could well end up in the Supreme Court.

Citing university and government studies, the FCC concluded that violent programming was harmful to children and said Congress could craft limits that wouldn't violate 1st Amendment rights. Specifically, the report said, lawmakers have the authority to give the FCC the power to restrict when broadcasters can air excessive gore and mayhem.

What's more, the FCC determined, Congress can require cable and satellite providers to allow viewers to purchase only the channels they want, giving them the chance to opt out of certain kinds of programming.

"Clearly, steps should be taken to protect children from excessively violent programming. Some might say action is long overdue," said FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, who has pushed cable and satellite companies to offer "a la carte" pricing. "While the Constitution protects the right to speak, it certainly doesn't protect a right to get paid for that speech."

The FCC didn't define violence in its report.

Broadcasters, the agency said, could short-circuit legislative action by voluntarily adopting a violence-free "family hour" at the beginning of prime time. Pay-TV services could also forestall action by reimbursing viewers for channels they don't want to receive or allowing them to buy channels in smaller bundles.

Without voluntary action, Martin said Congress could require those changes.

He said he expected a legal challenge should Congress act on the recommendations, "but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't still try to do something."

The FCC study was requested in 2004 by a bipartisan group of 39 House members and will set the stage for legislation. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said he planned to introduce a bill in the next few weeks.

"Violent television content is reaching epidemic proportions," he said. He called protecting children from extremely violent shows "one of the most critical communication issues of our time."

Broadcasters and pay-TV companies adamantly oppose new regulations. The major broadcast networks have chafed at the FCC's aggressive indecency enforcement under Martin, suing the agency last year. A court is expected to rule soon.

NBC Universal said in a statement Wednesday that "regulating 'violent content' without clear, objective, and consistent standards" would "threaten the wide range of programming enjoyed by American audiences."

Two-thirds of U.S. households have no children under 18, the network pointed out.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. criticized the FCC report, saying the V-chip and other parental controls were better solutions. The TV industry is in the midst of a $300-million campaign to educate parents about blocking technologies and the FCC should give it time to work, said Dennis Wharton, NAB's executive vice president.

The American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in, blasting the FCC's recommendations as "political pandering."

"Monitoring what your children watch on television is a parent's responsibility not Uncle Sam's," the ACLU said.

Although the report was approved 5 to 0, two commissioners criticized some of its findings. Robert M. McDowell, a Republican, said it "fails to illuminate a path for Congress" to avoid "legal pitfalls." Jonathan S. Adelstein, a Democrat, complained about the failure to define violence: "After three years, it's pretty disappointing this is all we came up with."

The FCC said a definition was possible but would have to be "narrowly tailored." Martin dismissed criticism that a workable definition would be impossible, noting that the TV ratings have specific violence categories.

post #262 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
'Earl' smell gimmick
gives us a whiff of NBC's Thursday night troubles
By Melanie McFarland Seattle Post-Intelligencer TV Critic Thursday, April 26, 2007

This will tell you how desperate NBC is to find an audience for its Thursday night comedies: Next Thursday's episode of "My Name Is Earl" will be presented in vivid Odorama.

The network can't call it that without paying residuals to John Waters, who coined the term for the scratch 'n' sniff that accompanied viewings of "Polyester" (homage to a failed movie-house innovation called Smell-O-Vision).

Instead, we'll know it as "Laugh 'n' Sniff," through which we can enjoy deep whiffs of Earl Hickey's universe via scratch-activated cards available in TV Guide. This will no doubt be great fun for "Earl" viewers who choose to indulge their noses, but it's also a touch worrisome. Gimmicks tend to be the refuge of the desperate on TV.

Oh, don't twist those hankies too much; "Earl" is coming back next year, along with its quick and lively Thursday night companions "The Office" and "30 Rock," concluding its season tonight at 9 on NBC. "Scrubs" is still waiting to see if NBC will air its seventh season; if not, ABC may swipe it.

Anyway, NBC's Thursday night audience probably won't mind the odor samples for May sweeps. They're a patient, devoted group who know what critics and awards juries have been acknowledging for most of this season: NBC's Thursday consists of one of the smartest, most creative comedy lineups the network has stumbled upon in years.

It's also the lowest rated.

And that, friends, is the conundrum executives will be left to ponder as the season comes to a close.

Not that many people need to be reminded of this, but NBC's Thursday used to be the unconquerable beast of the most lucrative night on television. But those days are long gone. Just a couple of weeks ago came the news that this season NBC's lineup has gotten the lowest ratings on that night for the network since 1987, when Nielsen Media Research started using people meters.

Last week's "My Name Is Earl" had an audience of around 7.1 million. "The Office" attracted just over 6.2 million. "Scrubs," 5.6 million, with "30 Rock" bringing up the rear with 5.1 million fans tuning in.

Numbers this paltry would portend short futures for all these comedies in better years, but the network as a whole isn't having one of those. It's set to end the season in fourth place. Again.

No need to ask what the deal is with those Thursday night comedies. We gave up on what was once Must-See TV, what, two? Three seasons ago?

So the question becomes, why aren't we watching? Nobody knows for sure, but lots of people have theories. I, for one, blame "Must-See's" dominance for the past decade and a half for poisoning the well for "Earl" and the rest.

NBC tried to keep it alive a few seasons after it had withered. As a result, every NBC comedy born in the post-"Friends" era is trapped in a Catch-22. Imitate the jovial irony and faux-hipster flavor that was the signature of "Must-See" half-hours past, and a series is rejected for trying to pass off tired, inauthentic humor as something original. (We should add here that the recent series attempting to do that, like "Four Kings," "20 Good Years" and "Joey," also suffered from writing that ran the spectrum from mediocre to horrendous, so there's that.)

But placing its faith in fresh, intelligent comedies hasn't resulted in victory, either. We've responded to a laugh track for so long that most of us still don't know what to do with the surreal slapstick on "Scrubs" or uncomfortable silences of "The Office." In a world long dominated by the likes of "According to Jim," where the humor is simple and instant (like freeze-dried coffee!), single-camera's innovations throw us off.

Thursday night's comedies are wickedly funny shows, too, especially the lowest rated of the bunch, "30 Rock." (Where else on broadcast television is there a character like Tracy Jordan, who complimented a hunk of cornbread by saying he'd like to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant?)

Still, not a one is a ratings strongman pulling the others along with it, which is what successful comedy lineups require. Take CBS's Monday night slate. Without "Two and a Half Men," the only half-hour comedy in season's top 20, "Rules of Engagement" and "The New Adventure of Old Christine" would simply lay there.

Another threat to NBC's Thursday is the growing popularity of dramedies like ABC's "Ugly Betty," trouncing "Earl" and "The Office" every Thursday at 8. When you think about it, "Betty" and "Desperate Housewives" are brilliant sneak-attacks on the conventional sitcom. Presented to us as hourlong dramas, the wit woven throughout both series gets noticed more than the serious twists. They have usurped the sitcom's role, supplying smiles and escapism with meaty plots.

Should the predicted influx of similarly light dramas in development make it on the fall schedule, NBC's half-hour situation probably won't improve. And as the season ends, it is scheduling more gimmickry in the form of three consecutive weeks of super-size episodes -- perhaps as a silent acknowledgment of that threat, but more likely out of necessity.

Next week consists of a 35-minute episode of "Earl," a 44-minute "Office" and a 34-minute "Scrubs, with "ER" beginning at 9:53. On May 10, the season finale of "My Name Is Earl," "The Office" and "Scrubs" all clock in at 40 minutes, and May 17 brings hourlong season finales for "The Office" and "Scrubs."

post #263 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Thursday's Season Finales

October Road 10 PM EDT/PT - ABC

30 Rock 9 PM ET/PT - NBC
post #264 of 93656
Originally Posted by pwrmetal View Post

I'm amazed that cable companies are even considering dropping analog. If they keep providing it, they will have such a huge edge over all other tv providers (including OTA). I know the 3 TVs I have currently running without a cable box are one of the reasons I stick with cable despite my mostly hating them.

They need the bandwidth that the analogs take up, 2 HD or 6-10 SD for each analog.
post #265 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
Grey's Anatomy:
Too many bad doctors in the house
By Alan Sepinwall Newark Star-Ledger

In the final scene of last week's "Grey's Anatomy," chief of surgery Robert Weber (James Pickens Jr.) visited a local bar, trying to rebuild his dating muscles after the end of his long marriage. Horrified to realize he was flirting with a college student, and embarrassed that he let smarmy Dr. McSteamy (Eric Dane) talk him into this plan, the chief was on the verge of bailing when Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) sat down next to him and suggested he ask her to dance. Told by the chief that the bar had no dance floor, she gave him an insouciant grin and said, "So? Ask me anyway," and the pair ended the episode sharing a funky, silly, completely charming two-step, surrounded by oblivious drinkers.

That was Kate Walsh's only real screen time last week, but in that minute-plus, she demonstrated why she was the right choice to be the star of the upcoming "Grey's" spin-off -- and why the original show is going to suffer badly with the loss of one of the few likable characters it has left.

The backdoor pilot for the spin-off, which will also feature Tim Daly, Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman in its cast, airs next week. While I'm naturally skeptical of spin-offs, I hope this one is good, and that Addison can bring the chief, Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Karev (Justin Chambers) with her, so I no longer have any reason to watch "Grey's" proper.

What began a few years ago as a fluffy, entertaining mash-up of "ER," "Friends" and "Sex and the City" has become a show so deeply in love with itself that it no longer notices or cares how the rest of the world views it. It's still the hottest thing on television that doesn't involve Ryan Seacrest, but the emperor has no scrubs.

The main character, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), was never that interesting or appealing to begin with. "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes has often defended Meredith's flaws by arguing that equivalent male characters on dramas -- say, George Clooney as Doug Ross on "ER" -- get away with being promiscuous and self-centered without being judged so harshly. The key difference, though, is that, when Doug wasn't busy breaking hearts and rules, he had some respectable qualities, like his passion for caring for his young patients. When Meredith isn't wrapped up in her own personal issues -- usually involving fellow self-righteous drama queen Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) -- she barely exists.

Then there's Katherine Heigl as walking disaster area Izzie Stevens, the model-turned-surgeon currently shattering all TV records for irrational, judgmental, horrid behavior. First there was that story arc at the end of last season where she fell in love with heart patient Denny and deliberately made his condition worse so he could move up the transplant list. Denny died, amidst much unfortunate, unconvincing crying by Heigl, but rather than kick Izzie out of the hospital and off the show, Rhimes and her writers contrived to have one character after another step up and try to take the blame for what Izzie did so she could be reinstated. (I know it's a TV show, and not a very realistic one at that, but if Rhimes was insistent on Izzie keeping her job, better not to try to explain it at all. It's like Clark Kent's eyeglasses disguise, a credibility-straining device that only works so long as the characters don't keep talking about it.)

Since coming back to work, Izzie has spent most of her time making nasty comments about Callie, the girlfriend and now wife of Izzie's best friend George (T.R. Knight). A few episodes ago, George and Izzie had a night of drunken sex, and despite a couple of seasons' worth of evidence that neither thinks of the other in That Way, we're now being sold the idea that they're meant to be a couple, and that Izzie's awful treatment of Callie was just a manifestation of that. Annoying as Izzie was before, she's dragged George down with her. To quote Tina Fey from timeslot rival "30 Rock," blurgh.

And that's not to mention the dull three-parter that threatened to kill Meredith and then didn't, or the story arc that had Drs. Yang (Sandra Oh) and Burke (Isaiah Washington) pulling an Izzie by hiding evidence of Burke's hand injury, or any number of character-ruining plots from the last year-plus.

Rhimes and her staff maintain a blog, www.greyswriters.com, where they discuss each episode after the fact, and it offers a fascinating, albeit slightly disturbing look at where the show has gone wrong. Rhimes writes about the characters as if they were real people whose behavior she can't control, and she loves every single one of them deeply and unapologetically.

That level of empathy for her characters is a large part of what made "Grey's" so good and so popular in the first place. Even today, it can still lead to some nice moments, like the current subplot involving Dr. Karev getting a crush on an amnesiac, pregnant plastic surgery patient (guest star Elizabeth Reaser). But a showrunner has to establish some kind of objective distance from the fictional world she's created, has to be able to say, "Hey, wait a minute -- if my character does this, people will hate him forever."

We commit to watching scripted dramas and comedies because we have to, on some level, enjoy spending time with the people on them, and the number of "Grey's" docs who fit that bill is dwindling rapidly. There's Addison, but she's off to the spin-off in a week, probably not to return unless ABC's development season is so amazing that it can kick Daly (late of "The Nine") and Diggs (late of "Day Break") to the curb twice in the same season. There's Callie, but she's become a victim of the George/Izzie subplot. The chief is a peripheral figure, and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), once the richest character on the whole show, has been marginalized as the writers have struggled to find something to do with a sane adult with a healthy marriage. (After the Denny fiasco, Bailey gave a speech claiming the whole thing was her fault, that she was too distracted by the demands of parenthood to do her job competently. It felt like something written by Ron Burgundy.)

So that leaves Karev, of all people, a character whose sole defining trait in the first season was his pride in being a jerk. Whether it's a sign of his progress or the other characters' descent, if you had told a "Grey's" fan a year or two ago that Karev would soon be the nicest person on the show, you would have been greeted with blank stares and cries of "Seriously? No, seriously?"

post #266 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Wednesday's metered market over-night prime-time ratings - and Media Week Analyst Marc Berman's view of what they mean -- have been posted at the top of Ratings News the second post in this thread.
post #267 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
FCC Violence Report

The long-awaited Federal Communications Commission report on TV Violence was officially released today.

You can download it here:

post #268 of 93656
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Critic's Notebook
Why Won't NBC Let Alec Baldwin Walk?
By Nikki Finke LA Weekly in her deadlinehollywooddaily blog Wednesday, April 25th, 2007


Baldwin is certainly not irreplaceable. (Hire Steven Weber.)

Oooooh, that is such a good idea. Weber was just about the only thing good on Studio 60.
post #269 of 93656
Thread Starter 
Nielsen Notebook
Nielsen Pegs DVRs At 17.2%
Dallas Is Most Digital Market
by Joe Mandese, Editor of MediaPost Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

Nearly four months after it began reporting audience ratings in households with digital video recorders, Nielsen Media Research has issued its first official estimate for the size of the DVR universe in the U.S. television marketplace. The estimates, which were sent to clients Wednesday along with new universe estimates for other digital TV technologies including digital cable and DVDs, show that 17.2% of American TV households now have a DVR, a slightly higher number than some might have expected from the TV ratings researcher, which currently has DVR households in about 15.8% of its national TV ratings sample. While the official national DVR universe estimates sets a new benchmark for the digitization of television, local estimates also released by Nielsen on Wednesday show that some U.S. TV markets have grown far more digital than others - especially the biggest media markets.

At 26.5%, Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex. has the highest penetration of DVRs of any U.S. TV market, The Texas market, which ranks as the 6th largest television market overall, nudged out Los Angeles, the nation's No. 2 TV market, which has a DVR penetration of 25.9%, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, the nation's No. 5 TV market, which has a DVR penetration of 23.5%, and Washington, DC., the nation's No. 8 TV marketing, which has a DVR penetration of 23.0%.

In fact, all of the top 10 TV markets, including No. 1 New York (DVR penetration of 18.3%), have much higher penetrations of DVRs than the rest of the country, and given their size likely skew the national average.

The least digital market, for example, is Marquette, which places 178 among Nielsen's market rankers, but has a DVR penetration of only 5.7%.

The findings undoubtedly reflect some socio-economic skews among U.S. TV markets, but the range of DVR penetration could have a significant bearing on the way media planners allocate spot TV advertising budgets to various markets.

post #270 of 93656
Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

They need the bandwidth that the analogs take up, 2 HD or 6-10 SD for each analog.

Already we are seeing Comcast here sending very low bitrates of the newer HD channels. The local OTA stations are still OK. But if they have to use their very limited bandwidth for analog and add more HD channels, HD-lite will be the norm.
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