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Lower the lights for finale of NBC's 'The Office'
   NBC had high hopes for its comedy “The Office.” The British version had become hugely popular, even here in the States, and NBC’s American version received decent reviews before it launched.
   But the
show did not connect with viewers, and it connected less and less over its short lifespan.
   NBC aired the season finale of “Office” on Tuesday night at 9:30, and it delivered a series low 2.2 rating among viewers 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights, all but assuring the episode was also the series finale. The 2.2 is 27.2 percent lower than the already-low 3.1 rating the show had averaged in its previous five episodes.
   As it always is on Tuesday nights during spring, Fox’s “American Idol” was the highest-rated show among 18-49s, averaging a 10.4 rating in its 8 p.m. timeslot. Fox ended first for the night rather comfortably, averaging an 8.4 rating and claiming a 22 share. CBS finished second at 3.8/10, ABC and NBC tied for third at 2.6/7, the WB fifth at 2.1/5 and UPN sixth at 1.0/3.
   Fox led easily at 8 p.m. with its 10.4 for “Idol.” CBS was second during the hour with a 2.9 for “NCIS” and the WB third with a 2.4 for “Gilmore Girls.”
   Fox led again at 9 p.m., this time with an impressive 6.3 average for a rerun of “House.” CBS was second with a 5.1 for “The Amazing Race” and ABC third with a 3.3 for a repeat of “According to Jim” (3.2) and a new episode of “Rodney” (3.3). NBC was fourth, averaging a 2.4 for “Scrubs” (2.7) and “The Office” (2.2).
   NBC did take the lead at 10 p.m. with a 3.7 average for a “Law & Order: SVU” repeat. CBS was second with a 3.4 for “Judging Amy” and ABC third with a 2.8 for “Blind Justice.”
   Fox also led the night among households, averaging a 12.7 rating and grabbing a 19 share. CBS was second at 8.3/13, NBC third at 5.0/8, ABC fourth at 4.7/7, the WB fifth at 3.1/5 and UPN sixth at 1.8/3.

Picture imperfect? Star fakes Brad-Ang J. cover.
The tabloids are so eager to pair off erstwhile Hollywood scandal couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie that they’ll do anything short of doctoring photos to put them together. Scratch that, they will doctor photos. Star lost a bidding war to rival Us Weekly for pictures of the twosome together at an African beach, but that didn’t stop the magazine from running a cover of what looks like a photo of the two on the beach together. “Brad & Angelina: Caught Together!” reads the headline over a picture melding a Brad image from his January pre-breakup beach trip with wife Jennifer Aniston and another picture of Jolie and son Maddox from last year. The Star hasn’t tried to hide the doctoring, though it hasn’t exactly trumpeted it either, stating on page 8 that the cover photo is a composite of two photos. And both a Star spokesman and editorial director Bonnie Fuller acknowledged the fakery. Us reportedly paid $500,000 for the pictures it ran.

Nets' dilemma: President's talk or sweep stunts?

Apparently no one at the White House watches “The O.C.” President Bush has quite inconveniently planned a press conference for tonight at 8:30 p.m., when he’ll reportedly talk about Social Security, his energy plan and concerns over high gas prices. But the conference has created a conundrum for the broadcast networks. Tonight is the first night of May sweeps, after all, and it's a Thursday, a top-dollar ad night for the networks. CBS has two of its highest-rated shows in “Survivor: Palau” at 8 and “CSI” at 9, and NBC has “The Apprentice” at 9 (the Bush press chat likely wouldn’t affect NBC’s 10 p.m. hit “ER”). Also, Fox has “The O.C.” at 8 p.m. ABC has a weak schedule Thursdays, and so will likely run the speech live. As of last night no decisions had been made by any networks, but considering how tight this season has been in the viewers 18-49 race, it’s doubtful CBS, NBC or Fox will preempt.

NBC gets real with unscripted summer schedule

Though the weather may not yet feel like it (what’s with the April snow?), summer is nearing, and networks are setting their schedules. The day after ABC announced its summer plans, NBC introduced six summer shows yesterday, including the return of “Average Joe” and “The Biggest Loser.” On June 21, NBC debuts the reality show “I Want to be a Hilton,” with 14 competitors mentored by Paris’s mom. The following week, on June 27, NBC launches “The Law Firm,” David E. Kelley's first attempt at a reality show. The next day, June 28, will see the premiere of “Average Joe 4: The Joes Strike Back,” which will feature a yet-to-be-revealed twist. Then on Aug. 3 the network will begin “Meet Mister Mom,” where two families compete to see which runs more efficiently with dad in charge. Aug. 9 brings two debuts, the second season of “The Biggest Loser” and “Tommy Lee Goes to College,” which follows the former Mr. Pam Anderson while he takes classes at the University of Nebraska. In other programming news, Comedy Central has ordered 39 episodes of a late-night talk show featuring comedian D. L. Hughley to air Fridays through Sundays. The show’s tentative title is “Weekends at the D. L.” And Fox has renewed “Nanny 911.”

Milwaukee realtor alleges circ inflation at paper
Is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the latest newspaper caught cooking its circulation? Shorewest Realtors, a Journal Sentinel advertiser, says it has the goods. Shorewest has sued Journal Communications, the paper's owner, for allegedly overstating its circulation since 1996 in order to jack up advertising rates. Lawyers are hoping to gain class action status so that other advertisers can join the suit. Publisher Betsy Brenner denied any circ cooking several weeks ago after the Journal Sentinel altered its circulation reporting standards and she reiterated that denial yesterday. Shorewest alleges that the Journal Sentinel illegally counted papers distributed for free, excess papers that were thrown away, and papers donated to schools as part of its paid circulation. The company is seeking a return of any “wrongfully collected” advertising money. Since 1996, just after the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel merged, the paper’s circulation has fallen by 50,000 to about 240,000 weekdays. Newsday, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Dallas Morning News have all admitted to circ cooking scams in the past year.

Air America yakker disses Bush a little too hard
You know a radio bit has gone bad when the Secret Service gets involved. On Monday Air America's afternoon drive host Randi Rhodes began her show quoting a spokesperson from the made-up AAARP-the America Association of Armed Retired People. "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore," the voice says, referring to President Bush's Social Security revamp. "So he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp," then the sound of four gunshots. While listeners of the liberal Air America network may have been amused, not everyone else was. The Secret Service is reportedly looking into whether the skit was a threat to the president, but so far hasn't contacted anyone at Air America. On her show yesterday, Rhodes said, "It was a bit. It was bad. I apologize a thousand times." At yesterday's White House press briefing, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said, "I haven't heard anything about it until you just mentioned it, but it sounds very inappropriate and over the line to me from the way you described it." Air America president of programming Jon Sinton has said those responsible for the skit will be disciplined.  

April 28, 2005 © 2004 Media Life


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