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James Hibberd

August 2007 Archives


August 31, 2007 1:07 PM

I'm on vacation until Monday Sept. 10.

CBS Wins Wednesday With Three of Top Four Shows

August 30, 2007 10:20 AM

CBS’ “Power of 10” ratings roller-coaster hit a bump Wednesday night. After a season-high 2.8 among adults 18-49 for its Tuesday night “Big Brother” tie-in episode, “Power” dropped to a 2.1 last night, which is about average for the show.

Still, “Power” won its 8 p.m. time period and, along with a pair of procedural repeats, CBS had three of the top four shows last night.

NBC was second with “Last Comic Standing,” which won the 9 p.m. hour with a 2.5, but was down 17 percent from last week’s season high. The network also had a repeat and “Dateline” (1.9).

ABC and Fox tied for third, with ABC sporting repeats and “NASCAR in Primetime” (1.4) while Fox had repeats. The CW was fifth with repeats.

'Brother' Boosts 'Power' Rating

August 29, 2007 10:55 AM

CBS’s “Power of 10” matched its highest rating to date aided by a pair of “Big Brother” houseguests appearing on the show. “Power” had a 2.8 rating, matching its premiere, followed by a similarly strong “Brother” (3.2) that also matched its highest rating this summer.

NBC and Fox were tied for second in the preliminaries. NBC re-ran their “First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live” special for a 2.1 rating, followed by a procedural repeat. Fox had repeats.

ABC was third with a “Just For Laughs” hour (1.9 and 2.2), “I-Caught” (1.7) and “Primetime: Crime” (1.7). The CW was fourth with repeats.

‘Two and a Half Men’ Repeat Wins Monday

August 28, 2007 6:03 PM

This is sad. After Nielsen processing delays made everybody wait yet again for overnight ratings, the result is terribly anticlimactic. A repeat of “Two and a Half Men” won Monday night in the 18 to 49 demographic with a 3.4 rating.

That gave CBS first place with repeats. ABC was second with reality repeats and an on-par “Fat March” (1.8). NBC came in third with repeats plus “Dateline” (1.6). Fox was fourth and The CW fifth with repeats.

Meanwhile, on cable, TNT’s “The Closer” matched last week to post a 5.6 rating among household metered markets.

CBS Weathers 'Kid Nation' Buzzkill

August 28, 2007 12:54 PM

They didn’t want this much buzz.

Ever since the “Kid Nation” storm began, industry insiders have declared over countless lunches: “All this press is playing right into CBS’ hands. This is exactly what the network secretly wants.”

But in recent weeks, the “Kid Nation” controversy crossed the threshold from worrisome-yet-helpful publicity to red-alert overload. The network is, most assuredly, not happy. There’s corporate-approved edgy “Viva Laughlin” buzz … and then there’s kids drinking bleach and state attorney general investigations.

There seem to be few organizations connected to “Kid Nation” left to express their outrage that reality show contestants might possibly have been underpaid or mistreated. It’s a problem that, as the Writers Guild of America notes today, has been common on both sides of the camera for years, but is only getting tough media scrutiny now that the reality production funhouse involves kids. How much of a difference that distinction makes is a question for the attorneys, psychologists, child development experts, concerned parents, fellow bloggers and others weighing in.

At the eye of this media hurricane is an editing bay, where executive producer Tom Forman continues to work on “Nation.” He claims nothing about the controversy will change the way he shapes his program. The on-set accidents -- a minor kitchen grease burn first reported in TelevisionWeek that somehow manages to get more horrific with each telling, the instantly infamous group bleach-drinking first reported in the New York Times -- were not directly captured on camera, he says, and will not be in the show.

“I’m horrified and frankly disgusted people are throwing around phrases like ‘child abuse,’” he says, sounding characteristically upbeat despite the recent succession of headlines. “We got a lot of column inches devoted to a show nobody has seen yet. I encourage people to watch it Sept. 19 and make up their own minds.”

Forman says he’s particularly bothered by the media criticism of “Nation” parents, which hit a fever pitch after The Smoking Gun last week published the show’s 22-page participation agreement.

At first blush, the contract reads as if parents are selling their kids into servitude in a coal mine by day, bordello by night. But it’s not much different from the agreements signed by reality participants every day. The only difference, as the chorus goes, is that the participants are kids.

“I look at that contract and I think I agree to most of that stuff on the back of my ticket to Disneyland,” Forman says, giving one of those quotes that, intentionally or not, tend to get readers riled up. “I’m not sure anybody who ever sent a kid to summer camp and signed a contract is all that surprised by what they read in there. What sort of parent wouldn’t want me to be able to call an ambulance if their kid needed one?

“Not every parent,” he concludes, “is a ‘Kid Nation’ parent.”

Preseason Football Rules Weekend

August 27, 2007 12:20 PM

Preseason football is starting to gain some ratings steam, with NFL games dominating Friday and Sunday night on broadcast TV.

Sunday’s game between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was up 28 percent from last week’s similarly slotted game, giving NBC a first-place victory for the night. The game scored a 3.2 rating among adults 18 to 49 in the preliminary Nielsens, largely up against a wasteland of repeats, with a few unscripted exceptions.

CBS was second with “60 Minutes” (1.5), an on par “Big Brother” (2.8) and repeats. ABC was third with reruns. Fox was fourth with “Teen Choice Awards 2007” earning 1.7, down 19 percent from last year.

Fox’s reality crime lineup took Saturday, followed by CBS’s “Crimetime Saturday” block, NBC’s repeats and ABC’s movie. ABC also aired the season (and undoubtedly series) finale of “Masters of Science Fiction” (1.0).

Friday was ruled by CBS’s presentation of the New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers (1.6), followed by ABC and NBC tied for second place and The CW coming in third, with Fox fourth.

‘Power of 10’ Rebounds

August 23, 2007 10:49 AM

Two pieces of news: CBS’ “Power of 10” reversed its rating decline and Fox’s “Anchorwoman” premiere stumbled out of the gate.

“Power” pulled a 2.2 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49, its best Wednesday yet and its highest rating since its premiere.

Granted, we’re not talking a massive comeback here (“Power’s” lowest rating was a 2.0). But Wednesday night’s performance was a key step in the right direction that enabled CBS to win the 8 p.m. time period. Perhaps “Power” was aided by “Big Brother” viewers checking out the show.

Fox’s “Anchorwoman,” about a bikini model hired at a small-town Texas newsroom, showed once again that reality/scripted hybrids are a tough sell to wide audiences. “Anchorwoman” opened with a 1.0 and tied a repeat on The CW for fifth place in its time period. Hard to see Fox showing the same patience with “Anchorwoman” as it has for the power-player-stuffed “On the Lot.”

Wait, better make that three pieces of news: NBC won the night with “Last Comic Standing” (3.1), “Dateline” (2.1) and a repeat.

CBS was second with “Power” and repeats. ABC was third with repeats, “NASCAR in Primetime” (1.4) and “Primetime: The Outsiders” (1.2). Fox was fourth with “Anchorwoman” and a repeat. The CW was fifth with repeats.

UPDATE: That was fast. Fox canceled "Anchorwoman" and will stream remaining episodes on Fox On Demand on Fox.com. The network will air repeats of "Til Death" in the slot instead.

Updated at 3:07 p.m.

The Occasionally Worrisome Fine Print of Game Show Contracts

August 22, 2007 5:18 PM

Imagine this: You’re a contestant on a new network game show, you beat the odds to win hundreds of thousands, then you don’t get your money. Why? Because your episode never aired.

On broadcast network game shows, contestants are routinely told they will receive their winnings only if home viewers see them win. Otherwise, hey, what happened on a soundstage in Culver City was all in good fun. As a result, contestants on freshly hatched game shows rushed into production “win” … then nervously pace for weeks or months hoping their episode makes it to air.

It all sounds kinda cruel, but industry sources say the worst-case scenario rarely comes to pass. Winnings are “almost always” paid out. The potential negative publicity of having a contestant going to his local paper (or local lawyer) with a tragic tale of losing his game show winnings because the network’s show tanked just isn’t worth the aggravation.

For instance, Fox’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” officially has the payout-only-on-airing policy. But a network representative says historically Fox pays all winners regardless of the show’s fate.

Non-cash payouts, however, are more dicey. Vacations, cars, boats and other such prizes are typically promotional trades with advertisers. If the episode doesn’t air, the advertiser rarely feels inclined to pony up the Dodge Caliber.

The lesson: Try out for a freshman game show with confidence. But given the choice between a week in Maui or cash, take the cash.

'America's Got Talent' Finale Tops Tuesday

August 22, 2007 11:52 AM

NBC’s two-hour finale for “America’s Got Talent” easily led Tuesday night with a 4.1 rating among adults 18 to 49, lifting the Peacock to first place for the night. NBC followed it with an outing of “The Singing Bee,” which scored a 3.3.

ABC and CBS were tied for second place, with ABC airing two episodes of “Just For Laugh” (2.0 and 2.5), then “I-Caught” (2.0) and “Primetime Crime” (2.4). CBS had “Big Brother” (3.1) and repeats.

Fox was fourth with the season finale of “On the Lot” (1.2) and a repeat. The CW, in fifth, had repeats.

The Power of 'Big Brother' Boosts '10'

August 22, 2007 7:48 AM

A big piece of the "Power of 10" puzzle falls into place.

After writing yesterday about CBS’s mysterious “Power” double-down, last night’s episode of “Big Brother” cleared things up. CBS revealed that a pair of challenge-winning contestants get to leave the “BB” house, fly to New York City and appear on a “Power” episode.

The series crossover between the popular reality series and the modest-performing game show is sneakily synergistic and helps explain why the network ordered additional episodes: If you're going to reassemble a game show production, there's little point in taping only one episode. Smart-smart.

TV Academy Wanted a Veteran Comic to Host Emmys

August 21, 2007 5:02 PM

While Fox successfully landed its own “American Idol” personality Ryan Seacrest to host the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had other ideas.

The academy’s wish list included veteran comics such as Billy Crystal, Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld, a source close to the process says.

Fox’s president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell, asserting his newly increased muscle over the unscripted division, wanted the “Idol” host. Some of the ensuing conversations with ATAS concerned Seacrest’s lack of comedic experience, but Darnell maintained that an Emmy host needs to be a reliable emcee, not a comedian. After all, non-comics Dick Clark, Bryant Gumbel, Frank Sinatra and Merv Griffin have hosted the Emmys. (Fox and ATAS had no comment.)

So to recap: First the academy vetoed Fox’s plan to have a green/blue/teal/aquamarine carpet in favor of traditional red, then it wanted a Billy Crystal-style host. Very 2004. Next thing you know, they’ll be nominating “Boston Legal” for best drama series (oh, wait…).

Seacrest’s other freshly announced Fox gig—hosting the entertainment portion of the Super Bowl—came so close to the Emmy announcement that they seem connected. But all sides insist the deals were separate, and there was no quid pro quo.

Some have seemed surprised that Seacrest landed both jobs, just as they were back when he landed the E! red-carpet gig. But Seacrest has managed to build a hosting empire by remaining a baggage-free professional and dominating a high-wire-act industry niche. He’s not an edgy choice, sure, but that’s partly what networks like about him. He’s all business, relatively free of the creative and personal roller coasters that attend other entertainers. A network hires Seacrest and knows exactly what it’s getting. And Fox has the key bonus benefit of Seacrest effectively promoting “Idol” on two of the biggest television events of the year.

‘Fat March’ Gains Ratings Weight

August 21, 2007 11:03 AM

Fox practically stole Monday night with a repeat of a two-hour “TV’s Funniest Moments” special, which is the network equivalent to finding a well-timed coupon in the back of your wallet. “Funniest” got a 2.5 rating among adults 18 to 49 to win the night, compensating for the loss of former time-period titan “Hell’s Kitchen.”

After spending most of the summer in third and fourth place on Mondays, ABC climbed into second place with its reality repeats and a new “Fat March” episode. “March” posted a sharp weekly gain of 38 percent to earn a 2.2, though was helped by a larger “Wife Swap” repeat lead-in and decreased competition from Fox.

CBS was third with repeats. NBC was fourth with repeats and “Dateline” (1.6). The CW was fifth with repeats.

CBS Orders More of Carey's 'Power of 10'

August 21, 2007 8:03 AM

CBS took the unusual step today of announcing additional episodes and a second night for a show that’s losing viewers.

The 18-to-49 rating for the Drew Carey-hosted game show “Power of 10” has gone from a 2.7 premiere, to a 2.1, to a 2.0. So why is CBS ordering four more episodes and adding the show to Tuesday nights in addition to its regular Wednesday slot?

A CBS representative’s official answer is “because we like the show.” The representative also pointed out the most recent and lowest-rated episode was up against Fox’s popular “So You Think You Can Dance” finale, but it’s tough to argue there’s too much broadcast competition in mid August.

Maybe CBS ordered more “Power” because it will replace “NCIS” repeats, which have only averaged a 1.9. Maybe the network figures more exposure will help the show. Maybe CBS is trying to boost Carey’s game show presence before he takes over “Price Is Right.” Or, heck, maybe CBS really does like “Power of 10” and simply figured four more episodes isn’t going to hurt anybody.

(3:45 p.m. Trimmed third paragraph)

‘Big Brother 8’ Leads Sunday

August 20, 2007 1:28 PM

“Big Brother 8” was the highest-rated program Sunday night, but that’s sort of like getting the best parking space at a store that’s closed. Competitors ran repeats, except for NBC’s presentation of an NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens.

Overall, CBS tied for the night with Fox due to “Brother” (2.9 rating among adults 19 to 49), “60 Minutes” (1.8) and repeats. Fox had animated repeats. NBC’s NFL game was second (2.3, but that may change in the nationals). ABC was fourth with repeats.

On Saturday, CBS once again tied Fox in the preliminary ratings. This time, CBS had the preseason game, with San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams posting a 1.7. Fox ran its usual reality crime shows. NBC was third with “US Gymnastics Championship” (1.0) and repeats. On ABC, “Masters of Science Fiction” flopped back down to a 0.9 after last week’s spike.

On Friday, Disney Channel ruled the night with "High School Musical 2." But among broadcast networks, ABC had a rare victory thanks to "Set For Life" climbing 33 percent to post its best rating to date (1.2), which in turn helped boost "George Lopez" repeats that followed.

Paramount Joins HD DVD Camp

August 20, 2007 12:27 PM

Looks like HD DVD has decided to fight. The Toshiba format has swung Paramount into its studio camp. Movies released by Paramount and several subsidiaries—including DreamWorks and MTV Films—will be released exclusively in HD DVD format.

The exclusivity deal starts with the upcoming releases of “Blades of Glory," followed by "Transformers" and "Shrek the Third." Paramount joins Universal as the only studio releasing titles exclusively on HD DVD

According to the press release, the deal came about because “the companies each said that the decision to distribute exclusively in the HD DVD format resulted from an extensive evaluation of current market offerings, which confirmed the clear benefits of HD DVD, particularly its market-ready technology and lower manufacturing costs.” According to Nikki Finke, the real reason was Toshiba gave Paramount $50 million and DreamWorks Animation $100 million (a Toshiba rep did not returned a request for comment).

Regardless of the reason for the collaboration (tough to imagine Blu-ray’s army of backers aligned under the Sony banner without some financial incentives of their own along the way), this is a significant victory for HD DVD and exactly what they need to try and reverse the stench of doom hanging over their format.

Unfortunately for consumers wanting a decisive victory in time for their holiday shopping, this is a format war Groundhog Day. HD DVD’s deal ensures at least six more months of active fighting between Sony and Toshiba.

Expect Sony, which has not been shy about generating headline victories of their, to retaliate soon. Bet there’s some Wal-Mart executives tied to chairs in a warehouse filled with Blu-ray players somewhere, with Sony henchmen strongly urging they consider ditching those pesky Toshiba titles from their shelves.

UPDATE at 4:25 pm: Responding to Finke's reporting of the $150 million payout, Paramount issued this statement: "The reason we made this decision is simple. After a year of fully experiencing and exploring both formats, we decided to exclusively support HD DVD because of the quality, value and potential the format offers. Beyond that, whenever we conduct co-marketing, production deals or other agreements, we never discuss business terms."

So, that sounds like a big yes, huh?

Disney's 'High School Musical 2' Breaks Cable Records

August 18, 2007 11:48 AM

Disney Channel’s “High School Musical 2” broke records Friday night to become the most-watched basic cable television event of all time.

The much-anticipated sequel to Disney Channel’s enormously successful 2006 movie drew 17.2 million viewers, besting previous record holder, TNT’s Western “Crossfire Trail,” by 38 percent. “HSM2” is also the most-watched television telecast on record for kids 6 to 11 and TV’s most-watched Friday telecast in total viewers in more than five years.

Compared to broadcast network programming, the “HSM2” audience was equivilent to last season’s average viewership for an episode of CBS’s “CSI” or ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” Disney Channel took advantage of the anticipated turnout by following the movie with a preview of its upcoming series “Phineas and Ferb,” which drew 10.8 million viewers.

The original “HSM” was Disney’s most-successful movie when it debuted to 7.8 million viewers last year. Since, it’s become a cash machine for the network, spawning a best-selling album, DVD, book series, video game, concert tour and upcoming ice show.

CW Readies 'Reaper' Video Game

August 17, 2007 3:43 PM

The CW is prepping an online game for its critic-favorite fall show “Reaper.”

In the game, users play Sam, a bounty hunter for the devil capturing evil souls who have escaped from hell. The more souls captured, the closer Sam gets to a date with Andi, his love interest on the show.

The CW plans to roll out the game on Sept. 11 to a host of sites, including Yahoo, MSN, GameSpot, IGN, The Onion and FaceBook.

Earlier this month, NBC announced that game company Ubisoft is creating a full-fledged PC and next-generation counsel game for “Heroes.”

'So You Think You Can Dance' Hits Finale High Note

August 17, 2007 9:26 AM

While competitors largely cleared the decks with repeats, Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” finale took the lead last night and gave Fox its 13th consecutive Thursday-night victory.

The two-hour “Dance” tallied a 3.5 rating among adults 18 to 49 as viewers tuned in to see Sabra Johnson best a trio of finalists to win the third season title.

The only other original program on broadcast was on CBS, which aired “Big Brother” (2.7) and came in second place for the night. ABC and NBC tied for third; The CW was forth.

Billiard Company Pulls 'Gay Vito' Cue

August 16, 2007 3:03 PM

Rockwell Billiards pulled its controversial “Cue to Die For” from its Web site Thursday after HBO sent the company a cease-and-desist letter.

The network accused the billiard company of copyright infringement following a protest by The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Earlier this week, GLAAD condemned the product, which is endorsed by former “Sopranos” cast member Joseph Gannascoli.

Gannascoli’s character “Gay Vito” Spatafore was killed and sodomized with a pool cue in the show’s sixth season. Gannascoli has apologized for the uproar, noting he has other “to Die For”-branded products, and called his endorsement of the pool cue “a coincidence.”

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Finale Tops Night

August 16, 2007 10:53 AM

Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” led the night with part one of its two-part season finale.
The two-hour event (apparently a full four hours are required to wrap up this summertime dancing reality series), earned a 3.2 rating among adults 18 to 49.

In second place, NBC offered “Most Outrageous Moments” (1.9) and “Last Comic Standing” (2.5), both down a tick from last week.

CBS was third, with “Power of 10” slipping slightly from its time-period premiere last week (1.9), followed by repeats.

ABC landed in fourth, with repeats and the premiere of “NASCAR in Primetime” (1.2).

The CW was fifth with repeats.

ABC Slates Emmy-Nominated Repeats

August 15, 2007 2:38 PM

In a clever bit of late-summer scheduling, ABC is airing a run of Emmy-nominated episodes of key shows.

The greatest-hits lineup includes episodes of “According to Jim,” “Boston Legal,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.”

Each episode was the same outing submitted for an Emmy category that received a nomination, with the exception of “Makeover” and “Jim” (the nominated “Makeover” episode was an unruly two hours; the nominated “Jim” episode repeated recently and the network didn’t want to air it again so soon).

The scheduling could help sway Emmy voters. ABC has a record number of nominations this year and ballots are due Aug. 31. On a Hollywood-centric level, ABC airing its nominated episodes could be considered a massive Emmy-voter screening effort.

The network will also stock the repeats with "special sneak peeks" of season premiere footage of returning shows. The Emmy week begins Aug. 20.

With ABC in fourth place for the summer, as well as launching a large number of new shows this fall, the Emmy-nominated run could be a savvy, low-cost way of building some momentum for the fall schedule.

Why ‘On the Lot’ Marches On

August 15, 2007 10:56 AM

The curious survival of Fox’s “On the Lot” has been a topic of conversation in the mainstream entertainment press and at industry lunches alike.


The reality series, from executive producers Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg, ranks among the lowest-rated new shows of the summer, yet Fox has continued to air the entire season.

Last night, part one of the “Lot” two-part season finale averaged a 0.9 rating among adults 18 to 49—making “Lot” the lowest-rated program of the night among the major broadcasters.

The show’s ratings are particularly anomalous on Fox, which is otherwise doing better than any network this summer, and would presumably have the highest benchmark for a struggling show to continue. Yet Burnett’s other summer reality series, “Pirate Master,” was canceled by longtime Burnett partner CBS weeks ago while averaging a 1.9.

So what’s the story?

Fox is very quiet on this subject, so most of the reasoning as to why “Lot” continues comes from relatively plugged-in sources outside the network and therefore should be considered with skepticism.

No, sources say, there’s no secret advertiser deal keeping the show on the air. Yes, Fox has other shows they could put into the time period if they so desired.

The “Lot” industry reasoning goes like this: In 2004, Burnett had his boxing reality series “The Contender” for NBC. Fox knocked it off with “The Next Great Champ.” Burnett was furious, lost a legal action to stop Fox’s show from getting on the air, and the Burnett-Fox relationship was strained.

Fast forward to spring, 2007: Burnett sells “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” to Fox, giving the network its only freshman hit of the season.

F-F again to summer: Despite “Grader,” Burnett is getting press wondering, for the hundredth time, if the reality genre is dead and if Burnett, in particular, is losing his edge. CBS canceling “Master” doesn’t help.

Now: What do you do if you’re Fox?

Protect the newly harmonious relationship with the talented reality producer. Shrug off critics and the Nielsens and keep “Lot” going.

Fox’s success this summer, rather than setting a higher bar, actually enables this move: Fox is already winning the summer; they don’t need to win Tuesdays at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m. Fox airs a “House” repeat that doesn’t depend on a lead-in. That Spielberg is also attached, obviously, makes for solid business as well.

As for the rest of the Tuesday ratings, NBC won the night with on par editions of “America’s Got Talent” (3.1), “Singing Bee” (3.2) and a repeat. CBS was second, with “Big Brother” hitting a season high (3.2), bracketed by repeats. ABC was third with a resurgent hour of “Just For Laughs” (both episodes up double-digits from last week to a 2.3 and 2.5), “Primetime Crime” (2.1) and “I-Caught” (1.8). Fox had “Lot” and a repeat. The CW had repeats.

Fox Orders Seven Episodes of 'Nothing But the Truth'

August 15, 2007 10:54 AM

Following on from last week's post, Fox has ordered seven episodes of "Nothing But the Truth" for fall, with production to begin as soon as possible. Host, episode length and air date are not yet announced.

The key question: Where will "Truth" go? Right now, hour-long versions of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" and "Don't Forget the Lyrics" are scheduled for Thursday nights. Fox could make "Truth" an hour and give it shot in either slot, or make "Truth" a half-hour and pair it with a half-hour version of "Grader" or "Lyrics" to prevent any titles from dropping off the schedule.

'Hell’s Kitchen' Finale Ties Record

August 14, 2007 10:43 AM

The season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” matched its highest rating ever among adults 18 to 49.

“Kitchen” pulled a 4.5 rating to tie last season’s finale. The figure bodes well for Fox’s upcoming “Hell’s” spin-off “Kitchen Nightmares,” which will compete with the fall season fray. Fox won the night with “Hell’s” and “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.9).

CBS was second with repeats. ABC was third, with “Fat March” improving upon last week’s premiere to a 1.8, and bracketed by repeats.

NBC was fourth, leading off with the return of improv series “Thank God You’re Here,” arriving just in time to come in fourth place (1.4), followed by a repeat and “Dateline” (1.9). The CW had repeats.

'Sopranos' + Hate Crime + Pool Cue = Marketing Opportunity

August 13, 2007 6:36 PM

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has issued a statement condemning an apparent “Sopranos” product tie-in: A pool cue endorsed by former cast member Joseph Gannascoli. During the sixth season, Gannascoli’s character Vito Spatafore was beaten to death, and then sodomized, with a pool cue after his mob crew discovered he was gay.

The gay and lesbian community embraced the “Sopranos” storyline because “Gay Vito” was a sympathetic character and his death brutally demonstrated intolerance. The pool cue is marketed by a company called Rockwell Billiards, which, in an epic moment of poor-taste decision-making, branded the product with the phrase “A Cue to Die For” (guess they couldn’t fit “The Perfect Weapon to Beat a Gay Man to Death With” on the cue).

“GLAAD is calling on Rockwell Billiards and Gannascoli to remove the name, ‘A Cue to Die For,’ from this product immediately and apologize for using such a vulgar symbol of violence and anti-gay bigotry to make a profit,” read the GLADD statement.

The "to Die For" slogan has been used for other, less sensational Gannascoli-endorsed products. His mobster novel is called "A Meal to Die For" and he will soon have a cigar lined branded with "A Cigar to Die For," according to his Web site.

An HBO spokesperson said they had no involvement with the endorsement deal.

UPDATE August 15, 5:28 pm:

Gannascoli gave an interview to the Miami Herald apologizing for the cue, but stopped shy of committing to pulling his endorsement.

"I had no idea it would create this sort of uproar," Gannascoli said. "This cue has been out for more than a year. I'm considering pulling all the pool cues. I'm a great supporter of the gay community." Gannascoli noted his other "to Die For" products, and added, 'It's a coincidence that I died from a pool stick and it's 'A Cue to Die For.' "

'Masters' Nearly Doubles Ratings

August 13, 2007 10:27 AM

Well, look who's getting all uppity.

After premiering to a dreadful 0.8 last week among adults 18 to 49, ABC’s summertime headache "Masters of Science Fiction" nearly doubled its rating Saturday night to a still-weak-but-much-improved 1.5.

Among the three networks programming in the 10 p.m. slot, "Masters" brought ABC into second place (below a “48 Hours Mystery” repeat). “Masters” benefited from a stronger lead-in this round, with the last half hour of "Charlie's Angeles: Full Throttle" earning a 1.6 compared to last week's movie finishing with a 1.0.

Before sci-fi fans get their hopes up, it’s worth noting that “Masters” still has some distance to climb before ABC executives have any awkward renewal discussions with producers. Though ABC’s summer effort “National Bingo Night” scored a stunning renewal with a mere 1.4 average, “Masters” has a higher production cost and the relationship between the producers and the network has been less than sunny. With only two more episodes remaining, the show will have to pull quite a Nielsen hat trick to turn things around.

For the entire night, CBS bested usual Saturday victor Fox, partly by launching with a “Power of 10” repeat.

On Sunday, CBS’s “Big Brother” led the night with a 2.8, helping the network to a first-place finish above Fox’s second-place comedy block.

NBC and ABC tied for third, with NBC’s “NFL Pre-Season Game 1: Seahawks vs. Chargers” down a steep 56 percent from last year to earn a 1.6 (note: the NFL figures are based on preliminary ratings. NBC's positioning and the game’s rating will likely improve in the nationals released later today since West Coast cities were under-represented in the early Nielsen returns).

Fox Orders Lie Detector Reality Pilot

August 10, 2007 6:08 PM

Fox confirmed late Friday they’ve ordered a reality show pilot where contestants are asked a series of escalating personal questions while strapped to a lie detector. If they answer truthfully, they can win a large cash prize. If they lie, they’re confronted by friends and family wielding the results.

The working title of the show is “Nothing But the Truth” and is based on a format that’s a hit in Columbia. “Extreme Makeover” creator Howard Schultz is running the show. The LA Times has more details about the format, which is called “cruel” (think it’s cruel now, just wait until Fox gets done with it – the Columbians have nothing on Mike Darnell).

After so many family friendly reality shows and eco-conscious gestures, good to see Fox embracing its programming dark side again. One hopes if the show goes to series that Fox will air an all-star edition for November sweeps, with network talent and executives lining up to take a turn in the hot seat. Oh, wait, nevermind – TCA just ended.

Fox Wins 12 Thursdays

August 10, 2007 2:54 PM

Fox’s ratings domination continues. They won last night—just like they’ve won the past 11 Thursdays in a row. This, points out the network, is a record for Fox. Too bad ceaseless victories make for dull ratings reporting.

Armed with pre-season football (Indianapolis vs. Dallas), Fox averaged a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49 for the night, edging out second place CBS (preliminary reports had the networks tied, this is based on the just-released nationals). CBS’s “Big Brother” scored its highest Thursday rating of the summer with a 3.0.

NBC was third with repeats. ABC was fourth with repeats. The CW presented the much-anticipated, two-hour premiere of their new high-concept drama series ... except, of course, they didn’t and only aired repeats.

'Cashmere Mafia' Production Halted

August 9, 2007 1:29 PM

Pre-production of ABC's upcoming power-list-women drama "Cashmere Mafia" was halted due to its Queens soundstage getting flooded from New York's recent torrential downpour, sources say.

ABC estimates production should be up and running again in a week, though sources say it might take a little longer. Premiere date not impacted.

The obvious joke: Not to be outdone, NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle” plans to flood its soundstage and halt production for a month.

CBS’s 'Power' Loss

August 9, 2007 10:47 AM

CBS’s new Drew Carey game show “Power of 10” dropped 26 percent from its Tuesday preview last night to post a 2.0 rating among adults 18 to 49. The show tied for 7th place for the night and matched an NBC repeat of “Most Outrageous Moments” for the 8 p.m. hour.

CBS calls the outing “very solid,” noting the show was first among viewers for the hour and that it marks the network’s best time-period numbers since May. “Power” has also lacked a power lead-in and has had to self start.

If the downward trend continues, however, what does it mean for Carey’s “Price Is Right”? Probably nothing. Daytime is a different audience. Critics say Carey makes a good host. Could just be Darnell is right and viewers are tiring of the quiz show format.

Meanwhile, Fox won the night with “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.8) and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (3.2), which were the highest-rated shows. “Lyrics” had a higher number than NBC’s “The Singing Bee” for the first time this week.

NBC was second with “Moments,” “Last Comic Standing” (2.5) and “Dateline” (2.4). CBS was third with “Power” and repeats. ABC was fourth, averaging only 0.8 for the night, running comedy repeats and running off a couple “Knights of Prosperity” episodes (0.7 and 0.8) along with “The Nine” (0.7). The CW was sixth with repeats.

Porn Descriptions Challenge Copywriters

August 8, 2007 3:10 PM

Somewhere there is a copywriter who had to create a description for “Brazilian Butt Fetish" in 10 words or less without offending anybody. This unique occupational challenge stems from two relatively new events: Cable and satellite providers quietly adding harder-edged porn channels to their lineups, and the advent of detailed on-screen interactive program listing guides.

So here’s an activity for insomniac English majors who own a DVR: Apply the “Adult” content filter on movie listings to see how copywriters struggle to describe extremely lurid programming in a family friendly—and often curiously uplifting—manner.

The aforementioned "Brazilian Butt Fetish" is described as "pretty women reveal curvaceous features.” "The Hottest Housewife" is "sexy women reveal their best traits." "Strap-On Sally 18" is "gorgeous women please one another." And "Handjobs Across America" is, quite accurately, "young women enjoy simple pleasures."

Occasionally, the writer gets ambitious and goes for a pun, such as on "Foot Work," listed as "beauties infuse their lovemaking skills with sole." Other times, no effort is made to distinguish the film from any other adult title, such as on "Juicy Jet Booty 3"—"women satisfy the needs of men.” Equally porn-generic is "Marilyn's Dark Chambers," which is "people discover they can fulfill their fantasies without any repercussions."

Though it might seem like all the descriptions emphasize women pleasuring others, that’s not the case. The listing for "Pimp My Wife" is encouragingly female-empowering, if oddly verbose: "An average housewife learns to really let go and explore her deepest fantasies. She's finally free to release her inhibitions and be comfortable with her own body."

Once again, the movie is called "Pimp My Wife."

Drew Carey’s Other Game Show Debuts

August 8, 2007 11:37 AM

CBS has a mountain riding on its new game show “Power of 10.”

The network hasn’t launched any new hits this summer, and could use a reliable hole-filler for the fall. Moreover, with “Power” host Carey signed as the new host of “Price Is Right,” CBS is anxious to see if Carey’s appeal will draw game show viewers.

Based on last night’s debut/preview numbers and critic reviews, CBS should be relieved. “Power” rated a solid 2.7 among adults 18 to 49 to come in second place for the 8 p.m. hour, while critics praised Carey as a witty and affable host.

This is CBS’s best delivery in the time period since May and the show came in first among adults 18 to 34 (which is unusual since game shows tend to skew older). Still, CBS’s lead-out “Big Brother 8” earned an even-better 2.9, and NBC and Fox’s musical game shows debuted to higher figures earlier this summer. Tonight “Power” will get a second test in its regular time period.

Overall, NBC was first for the night, with "America's Got Talent" (3.2) and "Singing Bee" (3.0, it's lowest Tuesday to date). CBS was second. ABC was third with "Just For Laughs" (1.9 and 2.0, also the lowest showings to date), "Primetime: Crime" (2.2) and "I-Caught" (2.2). Fox had "On the Lot" (0.9) and a repeat. The CW had repeats.

TV Emmy Academy Vetoes Fox’s Green Carpet Plan

August 7, 2007 3:28 PM

In a move that would have parted with decades of broadcast tradition, Fox wanted to roll out a green carpet during its presentation of the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards. But the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which considers the traditional red carpet an iconic part of its brand, overruled Fox's request earlier today.

Changing the carpet color was an unannounced part of Fox's green-themed Emmy Awards presentation strategy, which includes employing hybrid vehicles for event transportation, using recycled materials and reducing carbon emissions from the production.

Fox pushed for the attention-getting switch as part of parent company News Corp.'s initiative to combat global warming and promote eco-friendly concepts, but the network was met with strong resistance from the more traditional Academy.

"They are so bound by 'this is how it's always done' that it's like moving mountains trying to get them to agree,” a production insider says.

An Academy insider said their carpet verdict has gone back and forth in recent weeks as the parties debated the plan. "It was red, then it was green, then it was red again," a source says.

The Academy claims sponsor Macy's denied the request, sources say, insisting the carpet remain red since the color matches the store’s signage. Switching the carpet might also have impacted arrivals coverage specials that are traditionally titled and marketed using the "red carpet" brand.

Though Fox was denied a green carpet, the network still convinced the Academy to have a “green” carpet—as in eco-friendly. The carpet will be made from recycled material and donated to a school or library after the event.

CarpetGate Update: A silly story just got sillier. Some representatives now say Fox's proposed recyclable, eco-themed carpet looked more blue than green -- which, follows their implication, makes the veto less of an eco rejection.

ABC Debuts ‘Fat March’

August 7, 2007 11:41 AM

ABC premiered “Fat March” last night (take that, “Masters of Science Fiction” fans) flanked by original episodes of “Wife Swap” and “Supernanny.” Despite the all-original lineup, the network tied CBS for third place. “March” got a 1.6 rating among adults 18 to 49, “Swap” got a 2.4 and “Supernanny” a 2.2.

Fox led the pack yet again with “Hell’s Kitchen” (4.1) and a repeat.

NBC was second with a one-hour edition of “The Singing Bee” (2.4), the season finale of “Age of Love” (2.5) and “Dateline” (2.5). Although “Bee” was down 25 percent from last Tuesday’s airing and posted a series low, this is the first original episode that has not aired with an “America’s Got Talent” lead-in. “Love” matched its premiere rating to finish on a relative high note.

CBS tied for third with repeats, though it’s worth noting “Two and a Half Men” was the second highest-rated program of the night.

Darnell’s Decision

August 6, 2007 5:54 PM

Ever have a really tough decision where you’re choosing between two equally promising options that will significantly impact every aspect of your life?

Now imagine your decision involves choosing between major entertainment companies and the media is watching (and, naturally, judging) your every move.

That’s how Mike Darnell has spent the past few months as he’s tried to decide whether to remain reality chief at Fox or accept a lucrative production deal at NBC. In the end, he made the decision most everybody expected him to make. He’s relieved and happy, but exhausted.

“There have been so many restless nights,” he says. “It just makes you insane. I’ve actually had a very good summer [in terms of Fox’s reality ratings], but I haven’t been able to enjoy it.”

Making the decision leaves Darnell free to shift his attention back to seeking the next reality trend. Though it may seem as if Fox’s reality programs have mellowed and matured—with family friendly musical reality shows replacing the more sensationalistic stunts of the “Man vs. Beast” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire”—Darnel insists his tastes are unchanged.

“I have a lot of creative instincts, but I’m a businessman,” he says. “I will go with whatever is working at the time. It’s not my taste, it’s the public’s taste. You have to be smart enough to know when the public’s preference begins, and when it ends, and that’s what’s key to making this job work.”

Darnell sees the current quiz show trend cycling down, and dating shows cycling back up—despite NBC’s recent struggle with “Age of Love.”

“It has to be something really new and an enormous hook,” he says. “You can’t just do ‘Bachelor No. 50’ and do it with older woman and young woman—I knew that wasn’t going to work as soon as I heard it.” (Yes, once Darnell chooses Fox over NBC, he firmly chooses).

Another trend somewhat impacting Darnell’s department is News Corp.’s company-wide mandate to promote environmentalism. The Emmy Awards on Fox will have a green theme. The season finale of “American Idol” was “carbon neutral.” But can you imagine an earnest, pro-environment reality series on Fox?

Neither can Darnell. “Nah, not planning anything,” he says.

'Masters' Tanks, ABC Vindicated

August 6, 2007 11:18 AM

Is a network disappointed or relieved when a show they don’t like performs poorly?

The new anthology ABC series “Masters of Science Fiction” was reportedly reduced from six episodes to four, then scheduled to premiere in the airless timeslot of
Saturdays at 10 p.m. in the dead of summer. When ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson was asked about the moves, he described the series as “uneven” and “a little bit problematic.”

This set the stage for critics to do something they heartily enjoy: Rebel against a network by praising one of its orphaned shows. That the “Masters” source material is written by sci-fi legends like Harlan Ellison and Robert Heinlein, while ABC has stockpiled its summer with reality repeats, only made the critic contingent extra feisty.

The New York Daily News called the show ABC’s “best new series in more than a year … ambitious, artistic, refreshingly intelligent.” Some other reviews were similarly enthusiastic, comparing “Masters” to the original “Twilight Zone.”

The Los Angeles Times, however, heartily agreed with McPherson’s assessment, though “uneven” is an interesting criticism of an anthology series. Rod Serling supposedly once self-described his work on “Zone” as “one-third crap, one-third watchable and one-third pretty damn good” – about as uneven as it gets.

On Saturday, “Masters” debuted to a 0.8 rating among adults 18 to 49, down 43 percent from last week’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” repeat.

Two ways to look at this: ABC buried a quality show and ensured its doom. Or ABC recognized “Masters” had very niche appeal, was unlikely to interest its viewers, and scheduled the program appropriately.

For the rest of the weekend: Fox won Saturday (with its reality crime block) and Sunday (with a marathon of “Family Guy” repeats). CBS’s “Big Brother” had its best Sunday performance this season (2.7).

UPDATE: An ABC insider contested some of the details swirling in media reports regarding the network's purchase of "Masters of Science Fiction." The show was always intended to air Saturday night (though not necessarily in summer) as part of the network's strategy to develop lower-cost Saturday night programming, the source says. The episode order was not cut back—six episodes were produced—but ABC opted to only license four. "We're airing it exactly how we intended to," the insider says. The source adds that the remaining episodes are still scheduled, though cancellation of the final three is possible given Saturday's performance.

Inside Reilly’s Bidding War

August 5, 2007 9:00 PM

The news breaking right now that Kevin Reilly has made his first Fox deal for a new project with “The Shield” showrunner Shawn Ryan caps a frantic bidding war between a trio of networks.

The narrative plays out like the Hollywood fantasy of every television writer. Playwright David Schulner’s television experience includes a modest number of producer and writer credits for episodes of “Miss Match,” “Tell Me You Love Me” and “Desperate Housewives.” His darkly comic spec script titled “The Oaks” had a tricky-to-execute premise about three generations of people living in the same haunted house. The script, all agree, is “beautifully written.”

Schulner’s agents at UTA sent the script last Wednesday to key producers. By Monday, three networks wanted it.

ABC teamed with Chris Brancato and Bert Salke (“Boomtown”). CBS partnered with Curtis Hanson (“LA Confidential”). In the Fox camp, 20th Century Fox’s executive VP of drama Jennifer Nicholson-Salke championed the script to Ryan and director Michael Cuesta ("Six Feet Under”).

A bidding war ensued.

(Interesting point of order: Jennifer Nicholson-Salke and Bert Salke are married. The bidding war, sources say, “made things very awkward around the house last weekend.”)

ABC dropped out first, leaving the CBS and Fox teams to really get serious.

Kevin Reilly met with Schulner and explained he wanted to make “The Oaks” a keystone project at Fox. To prove it, he offered a series commitment based on the script alone—a highly unusual move, especially without a star attached.

Schulner was “astonished and humbled” by the attention from all parties. Though CBS offered to match Reilly’s offer, Schulner went with Fox. The network plans to shoot a pilot by Thanksgiving and start production in January for a midseason debut.

A perfectly happy ending … except for just one catch. Fox isn’t thrilled with the show’s title and are trying to come up with something better (Can see it now: “So You Think You Have a Ghost In Your House?”).

Behind Fox's Schedule Shuffle

August 3, 2007 5:21 PM

There’s a bunch of complicating factors swirling around Fox’s decision to push “New Amsterdam” to midseason, and all of them make the move a good idea.

First the official reason: “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” has been an unexpected blessing, a modest summer success that proves once again Fox has a tough time losing with a musical reality show. Meanwhile Wednesdays at 9 p.m. this fall was turning into a drama series Thunderdome. So moving “Bones” out of Wednesdays, sliding “Kitchen Nightmares” (a show Fox is very excited about) into the 9 p.m. slot as reality counter-programming, then partnering “Lyrics” with “5th Grader” on Thursdays all makes sense.

This means “Amsterdam,” through no fault of its own, simply lost a game of fall schedule musical chairs, right?

Well, not exactly. The network has several pliable, one-hour reality shows this fall (“American Band,” “Kitchen,” “Nashville,” “5th Grader,” “Lyrics”) that have been chosen for its first-string bench rather than as traditional mid-season hole-fillers. More than anything, Fox does not want yet another fourth-place finish this fall. They’re picking the lineup they think will give the network its best chance to break their fall losing streak – and that clearly does not include “Amsterdam.” If their choice also means going heavy on reality while other networks push scripted, no problem.

Other factors: “Amsterdam” is a drama about an immortal detective, which has a similar logline to CBS’s Friday night fall drama “Moonlight,” about an immortal vampire private detective. By launching in 2008, Fox plans to preview “Amsterdam” behind “American Idol” (which worked great for “5th Grader,” though not so much for “Wedding Bells”). Also, since the “Amsterdam” is already in production, it provides some writers strike protection.

Yet Again, Fox Wins

August 3, 2007 12:55 PM

There were only three original shows on Thursday night – Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” and CBS’s “Big Brother” – and all were roughly on par.

Fox took the two top spots and won the night with a 2.9 rating among adults 18 to 49 for a one-hour edition of “Lyrics,” and a 3.5 rating for “Dance.”

CBS was second for the night with “Brother” (2.6) and repeats. NBC was third, ABC fourth and The CW fifth – all with repeats.

Fox Leads Wednesday

August 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Fox’s musical reality duo “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” were the two highest-rated shows Wednesday night, both pulling an on-par 3.0 among adults 18 to 49.

NBC was second with “Last Comic Standing” matching its best rating of the summer (2.9), “Dateline” (2.8) and a repeat. CBS was third with repeats. ABC was fourth with repeats, the season finale of “American Inventor,” which hit a season low (1.7), and the return of “The Nine” (1.1) for its late-summer run off. The CW was fifth with repeats.

HD DVD: Fight or Quit (Preferably Quit)

August 2, 2007 10:37 AM

Let’s take a moment to push for the end of the pointless war that nobody wanted; the costly quagmire that’s drained resources and consumed the media with its constant, bloody scrimmages.

In the past few weeks, Sony’s Blu-ray next-generation DVD format has enjoyed several victories over Toshiba’s rival HD DVD: Target will sell only Blu-ray players this holiday season. The East Coast chain BJ’s Warehouse Club will exclusively sell Blu-ray titles. Steven Spielberg announced he will release his first movie in a high-def format, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” on Blu-ray. The Japanese porn industry has embraced Blu-ray. Even thieves robbing a Seattle store cleaned out its stock of Blu-ray discs, leaving HD DVD titles behind (how sad, chortle the bloggers, HD DVD movies are not even worth stealing).

Coming shortly after Blockbuster’s announcement that the chain will mainly stock Blu-ray titles, the headlines paint a portrait of pending HD DVD doom. All that's left is a period of Toshiba desperately hanging on. The face-saving final efforts. The company’s fingers slipping from the edge of the format-war cliff and blissfully falling into Betamax oblivion.

Trouble is, rooting for a Sony win feels like cheering for a fighter throwing low blows when the referee’s not looking. Sony stuffed 4 million overpriced PlayStation 3 units with similarly overpriced Blu-ray players and leveraged its relationship with studios to monopolize distribution of key DVD titles.

Just as important, but little noticed, is that Sony has been wildly effective at generating headlines declaring Blu-ray victories—even when the triumphs are modest. BJ’s Warehouse Club? Japanese porn? “Close Encounters”? Minor accomplishments that are killing HD DVD. When consumers think Blu-ray has won, it has.

This isn’t to say Blu-ray isn’t winning in less superficial respects. See this big brick wall of blue? That’s how often Blu-ray titles topped HD DVD in a variety of sales categories on Amazon.com. The week of July 22, Blu-ray captured 74 percent of high-def disc sales to HD DVD’s 26 percent, according to Nielsen VideoScan. Not good.

Toshiba has sold more stand-alone players, mainly because Blu-ray players cost $999 earlier this year and are still currently overpriced at $479. HD DVD players have dived to $243, and Xbox 360’s add-on HD-DVD units now sell for $179. Many consumers are snapping up Toshiba’s reasonably priced high-def player to accompany their new HDTV set without realizing the carnage-filled battlefield they’re stumbling onto.

“Every time Sony pulls a press prank, HD DVD counters with a price drop,” smartly notes one of many HD DVD fans on AVS Forum. But Toshiba is nearing the bottom for DVD player pricing, while Sony has a long way to go.

Recently a research company predicted the high-def format battle will continue well into 2012, with both sides evenly splitting the market. This nightmarish conclusion ignores the real sentiment driving the war’s end game: Studios don’t want two formats. Retailers don’t want two formats. Consumers don’t want two formats.

And when studios almost entirely align under Blu-ray, retailers begin exclusively stocking Blu-ray products, customers prefer Blu-ray titles, and the press writes stories of Blu-ray victories … then HD DVD really is wasting time hanging on the cliff’s edge.

Toshiba needs to start generating some victory-lap “press prank” headlines of their own—or let go.

'Bee' Halts Descent

August 1, 2007 11:20 AM

Last week a reporter at another publication hit "reply all" (presumably by accident) when responding to an emailed NBC press release about the network’s Tuesday night "Singing Bee" ratings.

The reply, sent to dozens of media outlets on NBC's distribution list, contained two words: "Sinking Bee."

Not only was the poke accurate, but the writer scores points for refusing to use a pun. "Bee" had a far better premiere than Fox's similar "Don't Forget the Lyrics," but the NBC show dropped alarmingly during its first three weeks on the air—from a 5.1 rating among adults 18 to 49, down to a 3.7, then to a 3.2. By contrast, the more modestly rated "Lyrics" seems like a model of stability.

At TCA, rival executives were crowing about the drops because NBC announced that “Bee” will air on Tuesdays this fall right after seeing the premiere numbers, which is sort of like proposing on a first date.

So the sound you hear this morning is the collective sigh of relief coming from NBC’s Burbank offices. “Bee,” it seems, for the moment, has stabilized. This week “Bee” held at 3.2. Together with “America’s Got Talent” (3.1), NBC won the night.

ABC came in second with the series finale of ”Shaq’s Big Challenge” hitting a series high (2.1) and back-to-back episodes of “Just For Laughs” dipping slightly (2.0 and 2.5), and a solid “Primetime: Family Secrets” (2.1).

CBS was third with “Big Brother” earning a solid 2.8, plus repeats.

Fox was fourth, grimly determined to run every episode of “On the Lot” (1.0), followed by a repeat.

The CW was a very distant fifth, with repeats averaging a 0.5 for the night.