'20/20' tops 'Amazing Race' and 'Lost'
Last night was a night of premieres as NBC’s “Lost” and CBS’s “Amazing Race” debuted, and ABC’s “20/20” debuted in its new Wednesday night timeslot. Of the three, “20/20” earned the highest rating of the night at 10 p.m., with Barbara Walters’ interview with Anne Heche. The program garnered a 9.2/16 household rating and share and won its hour in both households and adults 18-49. “20/20” was followed in the ratings by “The Amazing Race” on CBS at 9 p.m. The reality program averaged a 7.5/12 household rating and share and a 5.1 adult 18-49 rating, but couldn’t hold off NBC’s “Fear Factor” to win the hour in either households or adults 18-49. At 8 p.m., “Lost” lost out to a special episode of CBS’s “Big Brother 2” that featured former “Survivor” contestants as guest stars. NBC’s reality program earned second place for its time period with a 6.1/11 household rating and share and 4.1 adult 18-49 rating. The preliminary Nielsen household rating and share and adult 18-49 rating for Wednesday night were: NBC 7.0/12 and 4.6, CBS 6.6/11 and 4.1, ABC 6.1/10 and 3.4, and Fox 4.2/7 and 2.7. On Tuesday, Fox’s reality program “Murder in Smalltown X” died quietly with its final episode. All four half-hours of the finale were the lowest rated half-hours in their time period for both households and adults 18-49, and Fox finished the night with half the household share and adult 18-49 rating of the other three networks. Running mostly repeat schedules, NBC and CBS tied for first place in households, and NBC edged CBS for the night among adults 18-49. The preliminary Nielsen household rating and share and adult 18-49 rating for Tuesday night were: NBC 6.5/11 and 3.8, CBS 6.5/11 and 3.7, ABC 6.4/10 and 3.2, and Fox 2.8/5 and 1.8.

News Corp. sinks lads-in-plaids title Max Golf
News Corp. is sending Maximum Golf off to that big putting green in the sky. Combining the beer-and-babes approach popularized by Maxim with more traditional elements of golf service, Maximum Golf launched last May under the editorship of Michael Caruso, a former top pencil at Details. But the title struggled to build circulation and became a less-than-attractive proposition for News Corp. once the advertising downturn took hold. The company revealed in July that it was looking for a buyer. Time Inc., which owns Golf Magazine, and Dennis Publishing, which owns Maxim, were both expected to take a hard look at Maximum Golf, but in the end no one stepped forward, forcing News Corp. to scuttle the title altogether, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Fox News fires CNN-bound Paula Zahn
Maybe they should start calling it
the Controversial News Network. Casting around for a big name to head up their new morning newscast, CNN executives went a-poachin'. The one they ended up with was Paula Zahn, until this week host of “The Edge with Paula Zahn” on the arch-rival Fox News Channel. Zahn will host CNN's morning show from the network's new street-level studio in midtown Manhattan, at a reported salary that more than triples what she was making at Fox News. The Rupert Murdoch-owned network fired her yesterday for breaching her contract after learning that she had an offer on the table from CNN. Zahn’s contract with Fox News ran through Feb. 28, after which Fox News had a three-month right of refusal window. Fox News executives say that Zahn violated that contract by negotiating a deal with competitor CNN, and the network plans to initiate legal action against Zahn’s agency, N.S. Beinstock. CNN and a spokesman for Zahn’s agent deny any wrongdoing. Zahn’s last appearance on “The Edge” was Tuesday night.

Discovery snaps up rival health network
Discovery Networks took a big step in becoming the king of cable health programming by snapping up The Health Network, the main rival to its Discovery Health Channel. The Fox Cable Networks Group will receive $155 million in cash for The Health Network and will hold a 10 percent equity stake in Discovery Health. Whether Discovery will keep the two separate or combine them is unknown at this time. The ever-growing health care industry, on which nearly $1.2 trillion is spent every year, has helped pump up Discovery Health from a digital cable player to a 28-million-home contender, with commitments putting the channel in 55 million homes by the end of 2004. It will launch in Canada on Friday after having already secured nearly nine-million homes in England and Latin America. The Health Network is currently in 24.5 million homes and will jump to 44 million by the beginning of 2007. Discovery Networks also includes TLC, Animal Planet, the Travel Channel, Discovery Kids and several digital channels.

Lost remote brings death for Florida woman

Southwest Florida senior citizen Shirley Stocksdale died over the weekend after being trapped for at least two days with her arm stuck in a couch. Investigators believe she may have gotten her arm caught while feeling around underneath the sleeper sofa for the remote control. The actual causes of death appear to have been dehydration and emotional stress. Her left arm was bruised, not broken, and stuck up to the shoulder into the couch. Potential lifesavers, a telephone and whistle, were just beyond her grasp. As she waited in vain for someone to discover her, Stocksdale was able to arrange a blanket and rug underneath herself for comfort. Her daughter described her as active and happy, with a membership in both the Cape Coral Cruise Club and the Palmetto Pines Country Club, in addition to her domino and card clubs. 

Court TV sues to get inside NY courtrooms
Court TV, tired of relying on transcripts and drawings, is suing the State of New York for filming privileges inside courtrooms. The suit charges that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against electronic media, including video, in deciding how trials can be covered. New York governor George Pataki, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau are named as defendants in the suit. At the head of the Court TV legal team is David Boies, who represented Al Gore in Florida after the election. Cameras are allowed inside trials courts in 40 states and in appellate courts in all 50 states. New York experimented with allowing cameras in courtrooms from 1987 to 1997, but ultimately decided against it.   

September 6, 2001 © 2001 Media Life

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