NBC and CBS tie in 18-49s on scrappy Thursday
A lineup consisting mostly of repeats on the Big Four broadcast networks made for an unusually competitive Thursday this week, with NBC and CBS tying for No. 1 in the adult 18-49 demographic. NBC started off in the lead with repeats of “Friends” and “Scrubs,” while CBS was the highest-rated network at 9 p.m. with a repeat of “CSI” and at 10 p.m. with a repeat of “Without a Trace,” which beat an “ER” repeat on NBC in their first half-hour. ABC moved up to No. 1 at 10:30 p.m. with the second half of “Primetime Thursday.” NBC and CBS averaged a 6.1 adult 18-49 rating, based on preliminary Nielsen data. ABC had a 3.7. The network repeated sitcoms from its Tuesday and Wednesday lineup for the first two hours of primetime. Repeats of “Joe Millionaire” and “Man vs. Beast” led Fox to a 3.1 rating. Meanwhile, CBS held a wide lead among households with an 11.7 rating and 18 share. NBC had an 8.6/13, ABC had a 6.6/10 and Fox had a 4.2/6.

'American Idol' whacks Wednesday competition
A competitive lineup heavy on reality programs proved no match for Fox’s “American Idol” on Wednesday, with Fox ranking No. 1 in the adult 18-49 demographic by 5 rating points.  ABC came closest to keeping Fox from overwhelming the competition with a 90-minute version of “The Bachelorette,” which ranked No. 2 in its time slot and improved its rating 79 percent from beginning to end.  Still, “Idol” had more than a 5 point lead in both shows’ final half-hour at  9:30 p.m.  CBS started out the night in second place with “Star Search,” but that show fell 15 percent in its second half, when “Bachelorette” and “Idol” started.  CBS floundered for the remainder of the night. NBC suffered too until Fox wrapped up at 10 p.m., when “Law & Order” ranked No. 1. Fox averaged a 10.4 adult 18-49 rating and a 12.2 household rating and 18 share, based on Nielsen overnights. ABC had a 5.4 and a 7.6/12, NBC had a 4.3 and an 8.1/12 and CBS had a 2.8 and a 6.6/10.

Last-minute skinny on Super Sunday spots
Although ABC may not have sold out its Super Bowl advertising two days before the show -- it’s rumored that several $2 million spots will be snatched at the last minute -- most of the schedule has been set, thanks largely to a few big advertisers. Pepsi, General Motors, Anheuser-Busch and Sony account for 40 percent of the ad time ABC has sold. Reebook, DaimlerChrysler and FedEx all bought spots longer than the traditional 30 seconds. Reebok even began showing a “teaser” for its Super Bowl ad earlier this month, hyping the introduction of the character Terrible Terry Tate. Other companies searched for Bowl bargains. AT&T Wireless and Hanes limited themselves to pregame, postgame or halftime spots. Three dot-coms, including fifth-year advertiser Monster.com, have bought time. Since 1995, the percentage of respondents who watch the Super Bowl primarily for the commercials has risen from 2 to 14 percent, according to Eisner Communications. This year’s ads are expected to return to a light tone following last year’s somber post-Sept. 11 commercials. Other expected highlights include a Pepsi Twist commercial featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Florence Henderson and Donny and Marie Osmond; an Interpublic spot with Michael Jordan and Jackie Chan; a Visa ad with Chinese NBA star Yao Ming; and AT&T Wireless spoofs of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Antiques Roadshow.”

Kimmel: I don't wanna be a Letterman wannabe
Sunday belongs to the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the performance that really matters is that of Jimmy Kimmel, whose new late-night talk show debuts after the game. Of all the things that Kimmel could be worried about -- whether his show will bomb, whether the decision to air live will turn out to have been a big mistake -- the former co-host of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" says he's mainly anxious not to come off as a David Letterman ripoff. "[T]hat's been a challenge for me, through my whole career, to not be overly derivative of Letterman," Kimmel tells the Associated Press. "I have to make sure that I don't, because everybody that matters will know it." In a sense, Kimmel is already following in Letterman's footsteps; ABC hired him only after the sardonic "Late Show" host rebuffed its attempts to lure him from CBS. One TV legend Kimmel is looking to emulate is Mike Douglas, whose free-form daytime talk show inspired him to do without question cards. "Mike Douglas just did the interview, just went with things," says Kimmel. "It's not like that on talk shows anymore. They're pretty regimented, very highly produced."

Jerry Springer, U.S. Senator? It could happen
Talk show host Jerry Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor, is considering another run for office.  Springer, a Democrat, may challenge Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich, whose current term expires next year. Springer’s last campaign came in the Democratic primary for governor in 1982. He has hosted the nationally syndicated (and widely reviled) “Jerry Springer Show” since 1991. Typical show themes include “I Refuse to Wear Clothes” to “Love Quintets,” a fact that Springer acknowledged to reporters could work against him in an election. “The plus is that I’m known by everybody,” he says. “The minus is that I’m known by everybody.” Springer says he will decide by summer whether to run. He says the $5 million he’d need for a primary and $20 million for a campaign would not be a problem. Barring a Senate run, Springer says he’d consider a run for Cincinnati mayor or Ohio governor again.

Dobbs' wife didn't know she was packing heat 
Ever gotten busted for having a nail file in your carry-on bag? Don't feel bad. Lou Dobbs' wife Debi says she was unaware she was carrying an unlicensed, loaded, .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol in her purse when she arrived at the Newark airport Wednesday. Dobbs was scheduled to take a flight to Florida with her twin daughters to meet up with her husband, host of CNN's "Moneyline." On Don Imus's radio talk show yesterday, Lou Dobbs explained that she had the gun in her purse from a trip to Vermont last fall and had forgotten about it. Dobbs said that while his wife doesn't have a license to carry a gun, she needs it for security reasons at the family's isolated horse farm in Sussex, N.J. After being fingerprinted and photographed by Port Authority Police, Debi Dobbs was released without bail (and without the gun) to take a later flight to Florida. After her return, Mrs. Dobbs will face arraignment in a Newark court. Lou Dobbs joked about the incident with Imus, saying that a husband is unlikely to stray "when you do have a wife who knows how to use a handgun."

January 24, 2003© 2003 Media Life

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