'Lucy' special loses to ABC bowl coverage
A repeat of "I Love Lucy’s 50th Anniversary Special" on Wednesday failed to be a ratings hit for CBS in its second airing. The two-hour special came in last place in every half-hour in the 18-49 demographic and was in third place all night among households. ABC won the night with the FedEx Orange Bowl football game between Florida and Maryland. The network won almost every half-hour in both the 18-49 and household targets. ABC averaged a 5.4 adult 18-49 rating and had a 9.8 household rating and 15 share, based on preliminary Nielsen data. NBC was in second place on Wednesday with repeats of "The West Wing," including a special episode at 8 p.m., and "Law & Order." The network averaged a 4.9 and an 8.9/14. Fox had a 4.8 and a 5.6/9 with mostly repeats of its Wednesday comedies. And CBS had a 3.4 and an 8.0/13 with the Lucy special and "60 Minutes II." On Tuesday, the New Year began with the traditional lineup of college bowl games that gave ABC an easy ratings victory. ABC was No. 1 among adults 18-49 and households in virtually every half-hour for the night with the tail end of the "Tostitos Fiesta Bowl" and the "Nokia Sugar Bowl" matchup between Illinois and LSU. The network averaged a 5.0, adult 18-49, rating and 9.3 household rating and 15 share, based on preliminary Nielsen data. NBC was in second place in the younger demo with a 3.9 and a 5.9/9 in households. Its lineup included repeats of top-rated shows like "Frasier" and a rerun of its celebrity edition of "Fear Factor," the summer reality show that is coming back to NBC’s regular schedule. Fox had a 3.8 and a 4.5/7 on Tuesday with programs like "That '70s Show." CBS placed a distant last place in the 18-49 demo with a 3.0 rating for repeats of its regular lineup of "JAG," "The Guardian," and "Judging Amy." The network was No. 2, however, in households with a 7.5/12.

NBC wins post-Sept. 11 evening news fray
ABC and CBS both made noteworthy gains in the evening news race last year, but when it counted most--after Sept. 11--NBC was still on top. "NBC Nightly News" won 10 of the last 14 weeks of the year, averaging 11.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. ABC's "World News Tonight" averaged 10.81 million viewers, trailing NBC by a considerably smaller margin than during the previous year’s post-election hysteria. "CBS Evening News" drew 9.53 million viewers. Meanwhile, Nielsen data also showed that Lifetime led all cable networks last year, averaging 1.6 million homes and a 2.0 rating. USA, TBS and Cartoon Network all tied for third place with an average 1.7 rating.

Bill Gates steamed over film showing his death
Galactic overlord Bill Gates is said to be in a snit over a new documentary-style film that chronicles his fictional assassination and the police cover-up that follows. The movie, an independent feature titled "Nothing So Strange," is in the "mocumentary" tradition of films like "The Blair Witch Project" and "Best in Show." Written and directed by Brian Fleming, creator of the hit musical "Bat Boy," "Strange" premieres at the Slamdance Film Festival later this month. Early in the movie, Gates, played by actor Steve Sires, steps out of a limo and is shot in the head. Sires has traded on his uncanny resemblance to the Microsoft founder before, sometimes at the invitation of the company. But this time, Microsoft isn’t in on the joke, calling the film "very disappointing," according to the New York Post. Adding to the software company’s ire is "Strange’s" "Blair Witch"-like marketing campaign, which relies on realistic-seeming web sites to confuse and titillate would-be moviegoers.


USA orders full season of 'The Dead Zone' 

Stephen King's novel "The Dead Zone" will find new life as a TV series, but not, as originally planned, on UPN. Instead, it is USA Network that has placed a 22-episode order with Lions Gate Television/Paramount International Television. The supernatural drama will be USA's most expensive series ever, reportedly costing the network nearly $1 million per episode in licensing fees. Anthony Michael Hall, who has acted in films including "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club" and "A Gnome Named Norm," will star in the series as Johnny Smith. Hall played Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates in the 1999 television movie "Pirates of Silicon Alley."

Court TV fights for right to air terror trial
With suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui pleading not guilty at an indictment hearing yesterday, Court TV is gearing up to fight for the right to broadcast his trial, scheduled for Oct. 14. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema has asked the defense and prosecution to respond by Friday, with a hearing to decide the matter scheduled five days later. Court TV representatives contend that the national scope of the tragedy makes a public broadcast absolutely essential. The broadcast would also amply illustrate the openness of America's democratic institutions, they contend. Critics point out that an audience of millions would lead to great distortion within the trial, leading lawyers and witnesses to adjust their behavior for the cameras. Witnesses testifying for the defense and prosecution could fear reprisals from irate citizens and terrorists, respectively. Adding weight to Court TV's argument is a recent Senate bill which will allow survivors of the Sept. 11 attack and the victims' relatives to view the trial on closed-circuit TV, which could lead to a near-public viewing in auditoriums across the country.

Baseball fans go to court over 'Priceless' ad
A hot-dog-and-beer-saturated road trip to several baseball parks in a moldy VW van might be a rite of passage for many a baseball fan, but to David Hoch and Joseph Marble it was a labor of love dedicated to building support for a new park for their beloved Minnesota Twins. The pair charge that a new commercial in Mastercard's "Priceless" ad campaign unlawfully plagiarizes the "expression" of their idea. The two are suing Mastercard and ad company McCann-Erickson USA for pilfering the ad from the 1998 30-minute documentary, called "Twins--Now and Forever," which came out of their experience. They handed out over 300 copies to journalists, politicians and others, seeking to drum up support, but only copyrighted the film in July of last year. The two 41-year-old former elementary and high school buds allege several specific shots were duplicated exactly in the ad, including similar camera angles. Mastercard officials maintain the suit is without merit.

January 3, 2002 © 2002 Media Life



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