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Wednesday's part 2 of CBS 'Elvis' special fizzles
   It’s never a good thing when a sweeps special does worse than a network’s season average in its timeslot. Lucky for CBS it may not matter.
   Wednesday night part two of the highly publicized miniseries “Elvis” performed well below part one. But CBS got such a big bump from Tuesday’s “Amazing Race” that “Elvis’” fizzle won’t hurt it much in its tight fight with Fox for No. 1 among 18-49s in the May sweeps.
   CBS, which had averaged a 3.7 rating season-to-date on Wednesdays, got just a 2.9 average from two hours of “Elvis” from 8-10 p.m. That, in turn, dropped “CSI: NY” to a 4.7 rating at 10 p.m. when it had averaged a 4.9 so far this season.
   The 2.9 for “Elvis” was 25.6 percent down from the 3.9 Sunday’s part one earned, and part two’s 10.4 million viewers were 25.2 percent less than Sunday’s 13.9 million. Overall, CBS averaged a 3.5 rating among 18-49s Wednesday night, 5.4 percent lower than its 3.7 average on the night this season.
   Not surprisingly Fox’s “American Idol” results show was the highest-rated program of the night among 18-49s with an 11.1 rating. About 25.6 million viewers watched Anthony Federov get eliminated as the “Idol” competition trimmed to three contestants. Fox was first for the night, averaging a 5.8 rating and a 15 share. ABC was second at 4.4/12, CBS third at 3.5/9, NBC fourth at 2.9/8, UPN fifth at 1.9/5 and the WB sixth at 1.3/3.
   At 8 p.m. ABC led with a 6.2 average rating for “Lost.” Fox was second with a 3.4 average for an hour of “That ‘70s Show,” while UPN averaged a 2.5 for “America’s Next Top Model,” tying for third with the first hour of “Elvis” on CBS.
   Fox took the lead at 9 p.m. with an 8.2 average for “Idol” (11.1) and “Stacked” (5.3). ABC was second with a 4.1 average for “Alias” and CBS and NBC tied for third at 3.2—CBS for the last hour of “Elvis” and NBC for the series finale of “Revelations.”
   At 10 p.m. CBS led with its 4.7 average for “CSI: NY.” NBC was second with a 3.8 for “Law & Order” and ABC third with a 2.9 for “Supernanny.”
   Despite the disappointing “Elvis” performance, CBS led the night among households with a 7.8 average rating and a 13 share. Fox was a close second at 7.7/12, ABC third at 7.1/11, NBC fourth at 6.2/10, UPN fifth at 2.7/4 and the WB sixth at 2.0/3.

This summer, less emphasis on Fox scripted fare
Just call it trial and error. Fox was aggressive with its programming last summer, with a large number of original scripted programs, but after drawing few viewers for its experiment the network will focus on reality this summer. Fox’s Sunday night lineup will basically stay as it is, with an hour of “The Simpsons” running through early July and new episodes of “Family Guy” and “American Dad” available at least through June. The network will launch “Princess of Malibu” Sunday, July 10, at 8:30 p.m., a show about the family of music producers David and Linda Foster. As for Mondays, Fox will launch chef Gordon Ramsay’s reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” May 30 at 9 p.m. following repeats of “Nanny 911.” Tuesday nights will feature reruns of “Trading Spouses” and “House,” while Wednesdays will have an hour of “That ‘70s Show” as the lead-in to “The Inside,” a crime drama that launches June 8. Starting July 20 Fox replaces “That ‘70s Show” with “So You Think You Can Dance,” a reality competition from the producers of “American Idol.” Thursdays will feature back-to-back repeats of “The O.C.” until June 30, when “Renovate My Family” returns for six weeks. And Fox will stick with movies on Friday nights and “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” on Saturdays this summer. In other programming, MTV has picked up 10 episodes of a home makeover series called “Trailer Fabulous,” hosted by Brooks Buford and launching this summer that’s basically a “Pimp My Trailer” takeoff.

Rumor: A harsh verdict for NBC's 'Trial by Jury'

There finally may be an answer to that age-old question: How many “Law & Orders” is too many? Apparently it’s four. The latest upfront rumor, reported in Variety, has NBC canceling “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” the third spinoff in the series that debuted in March but struggled in its Friday 10 p.m. timeslot. “Trial by Jury” averaged 11.2 million total viewers during its two-month run, about 1 million less than the third-rated “L&O” skein, “Criminal Intent.” More distressing for NBC was the show’s 2.8 adults 18-49 rating, which was behind the 3.2 average for CBS’s competing “Numb3rs.” NBC paired the show with “L&O: Special Victims Unit,” the highest-rated of the four shows this season, in a special Tuesday crossover last week, but while “Trial by Jury” logged its biggest numbers of the season, it got no boost in its regular Friday slot. Still, canceling “Trial by Jury” would also risk ticking off Dick Wolf, the powerful series creator. And that doesn’t seem like something NBC would want to do. Other shows rumored to be on the block as of this morning included ABC’s “8 Simple Rules” and “My Wife & Kids.” And while NBC’s “Joey” will be back, the show will get a new showrunner and perhaps a new timeslot.

Nieman nixes Chinese media training program 

Dear China, on second thought, maybe we won’t help you. That’s the word from Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation, which has decided to end its participation in a program to help Chinese officials learn how to deal with the Western media in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The decision was made after Nieman alums voiced concern over China’s history of oppression of media. More than 100 alums of the prestigious journalism program signed a petition protesting the project. Many feared the Chinese would simply figure out how to manipulate the media rather than accommodate it, though the Nieman Foundation said the intent was just the opposite. A statement by the foundation, which offers mid-career fellowships for journalists, says the decision to pull out was made to protect the good name of the fellowship program.

Dems demand CPB inquiry into Republican chair
The nation’s two political parties have found another outlet for their fighting: public television. Two Democratic congressmen have initiated an investigation of Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman (and Republican) Ken Tomlinson, saying he’s trying to push public TV to the right. Reps. David Obey of Wisconsin and John Dingell of Michigan asked CPB inspector general Kenneth Konz to look into allegedly politically motivated moves at the CPB, including bias in hiring, funding and even researching the politics of PBS’s “Now” guests. Tomlinson issued a statement saying that he welcomed the chance to, “examine issues related to my efforts to encourage public broadcasters to take more seriously the need that our current affairs line-up reflect objectivity and balance.” He referred to distortions in the press that he wanted cleared up, although he didn’t out-and-out deny anything. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 bars officials from using political litmus tests in their hiring. It also forbids interfering with public programming distribution and substance.

Sirius turnoff: Hyundai drivers dis satellite Stern
Howard Stern pulls great ratings for his morning drive radio show, but presumably few of his listeners are Hyundai owners. The Korean car manufacturer recently surveyed more than 300 customers in an attempt to decide which satellite radio service it should offer in its cars, XM or Sirius. The results showed a surprising number of people wrote in that they aren’t comfortable with Stern’s programming. With Stern scheduled to join Sirius’ schedule in January, Hyundai went with XM. Other manufacturers have chosen Sirius, such as DaimlerChrysler, which includes Mercedes-Benz. This raises the question of how either satellite radio service will affect car sales. The issue is one that Canadians need not worry about: cars made and sold in the country won’t feature either satellite radio service, because the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission hasn’t approved the sale of the radios. In fact, anyone who’s found selling or operating the radios in Canada will be prosecuted.

May 13, 2005 © 2005 Media Life


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