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A finale most steamy for 'Housewives' on Sunday
   ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” finale wrapped up a lot of mysteries Sunday night like why that nice Mary Alice killed herself. But one still looms over the first-year show: Will its finale be the highest rated of the season among adults 18-49?
   It’s certainly possible. The one-hour season-ender at 9 p.m. averaged a 13.2 rating in the demo, according to Nielsen overnights, a 28.2 percent increase over the 10.3 the show had averaged season-to-date. 
   The 13.2 easily bests CBS's average for the series finale of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (11.2) and season finale of “CSI” (10.6), though it was behind in total viewers.
   The “Housewives” finale averaged about 30.3 million viewers, according to overnights, short of the 32.9 million the “Raymond” finale attracted and slightly less than the 30.7 million who watched the Quentin Tarantino-directed “CSI” finale, both last week.
   ABC finished first Sunday night among 18-49s quite easily, with an 8.5 average rating and a 23 share. Fox was second at 3.6/10, CBS third at 2.9/8, NBC fourth at 2.1/6 and the WB fifth at 1.1/3.
   ABC swept each hour among 18-49s, starting with a 3.8 average at 7 p.m. for the first of two hours of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Fox was second that hour with a 2.6 average for the first hour of the movie “Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones.” NBC averaged a 1.7 rating for “Dateline,” tying it with CBS’s “60 Minutes” for third.
   At 8 p.m. ABC led with the second hour of “Home Edition” averaging a 6.9 rating. Fox was second with a 3.8 for the second hour of “Star Wars” and CBS third with a 3.0 for “Cold Case.”
   At 9 p.m. ABC beat the combined broadcast competition with its 13.2 average for the “Housewives” finale. Fox finished second during the hour with a 4.3 for the last hour of “Star Wars” and CBS third with a 3.2 for a repeat of “CSI.”
   ABC completed the sweep at 10 p.m. with a 9.9 average for “Grey’s Anatomy.” CBS was second with a 3.7 average for a repeat of “CSI: Miami” and NBC third with a 2.4 for a rerun of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
   Among households, ABC finished first comfortably with a 12.3 average rating and a 20 share. CBS was second for the night at 7.7/13, Fox third at 5.3/9, NBC fourth at 4.3/7 and the WB fifth at 1.7/3.

Myers lowers b'cast forecast to a 0.5 percent dip
Depending on who you believe, the upfront has either already begun, with a few big deals at ABC, or will be extremely slow in starting, with buyers dragging on price increases. Either way, it’s not going to be a boom market for broadcast. Yesterday forecaster Jack Myers released a revised report that projects a 3.4 percent uptick in spending on the television upfront to $18.36 billion, compared with last year’s $17.675 billion. But Myers says broadcast network spending will fall 0.5 percent to $9.03 billion after last year’s $9.075 billion. Last month he predicted an increase of 3.2 percent to $9.37 billion. He also said that cable won’t get the mass shifting of money from broadcast that many have been predicting. Myers predicts only $400 million will go from cable to broadcast, less than half of what some other forecasters have said. He thinks cable and syndication will both see gains, cable up 10 percent to $7.04 billion and syndication up 4 percent to $2.29 billion.

Newsweek's Isikoff: I shoulda corroborated source

After what must be the biggest fervor ever over a front-of-the-book short, Michael Isikoff, one of the two men behind the errant Newsweek report on Quran desecration at Guantanamo Bay, has begun his mea culpa tour. The embattled reporter appeared on PBS’s “Charlie Rose Show” last night acknowledging that he should have corroborated an anonymous source’s tip on the Quran story that partly sparked deadly riots abroad. The since-retracted item alleged that U.S. interrogators had flushed a Quran down a toilet to push detainees to talk. Referring to the riots in Afghanistan that killed more than a dozen people, Isikoff said, “Even if it was just a little bit that we contributed to the violence that went on over there, that was awful, terrible.” He said that he and co-author John Barry did not individually corroborate all the allegations in the brief article, though they did provide the article to a senior Defense Department official for review. Isikoff didn't mention any plans to leave the magazine, though speculation has been flying over whether someone will have to go. Newsweek retracted the story last week and rehauled its policy on use of anonymous sources after Isikoff’s source said he wasn’t sure the Quran allegations were in fact included in the report cited by Newsweek.

BBC strike over job cuts blacks out news shows

The British Broadcasting Corporation plans to slash nearly 4,000 jobs in the coming years, but it will lose many more workers during protests over the cuts. Yesterday thousands of BBC employees, picketing everywhere from the broadcaster’s West London headquarters to a small Afghanistan outpost, staged a 24-hour strike that forced several news shows off the air. The morning “Today” radio show was one of the most hurt, with a BBC announcer blaming the cancellation on “industrial action” and a jazz show airing in its place. In all, only 30 percent of some 27,000 BBC employees showed up for work. Most of the BBC’s best-known anchors, such as morning show’s Natasha Kaplinsky and “Newsnight’s” Jeremy Paxman, refused to cross the picket line. The BBC workers plan two more strikes over the next month, hoping to convince director general Mark Thompson not to proceed with the layoffs. It was the first BBC strike in 16 years.

HBO's Maher draws more ire with recruit remark
Bill Maher is upsetting people again. Rep. Spencer Bachus, a Republican from Alabama, is mad about comments Maher made on the May 13 episode of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” about Army recruiting. On the episode, Maher noted that the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent, saying, “We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies.” Bachus claims Maher’s remark borders on the treasonous and demanded that HBO yank his show. The network apparently has no such plans. Of course this isn’t the first time Maher’s angered politicians. On ABC’s late-night “Politically Incorrect” in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Maher said: “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building--say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.” That lit a firestorm of reaction from politicians and terrified advertisers. Sears and Federal Express pulled their commercials from the show, and ABC didn't re-sign Maher the next year.

Comedy Central signs 'Jeopardy' witster Ken J. 
Ken Jennings knows just about everything, and self-promotion is no exception. The 74-time "Jeopardy" winner has ridden that unbelievable winning streak into a TV deal of his own. Comedy Central is teaming with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" producer Michael Davies for a new game show starring Jennings. Jennings, who also will release a board game called "Can You Beat Ken?," a CD trivia game called "Quizzology," and a book, is back on "Jeopardy" this week for the $2 million Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Jennings won $2.52 million during his first stint on the show. His still-unnamed Comedy Central show will launch either during the fourth quarter this year or first quarter of 2006. In other programming, Sundance Channel and soon-to-launch Logo are teaming for a documentary series called “Transgeneration,” about four college students changing sexes. The show premieres on Sundance in September before rerunning on Logo during first quarter 2006. CMT is launching a series called “CMT Class Of,” focusing each episode on a different year. It starts June 3 at 8 p.m. And Dave Navarro will host the CBS-Mark Burnett summer show “Rock Star: INXS.”


May 24, 2005 © 2005 Media Life


 



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