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Jan 30, 2002  •  Post A Comment

State of the Union address draws 51.7 million viewers

President Bush’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday night — his third address to a joint session of Congress — reached 51.7 million viewers based on combined ratings from the Big 4 broadcast networks and four cable networks, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data.

President Bush’s 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) Tuesday address scored a combined 33.6 rating/49 share household average coming from the simulcast on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC and cable networks CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNBC. A spokesman for Nielsen said late Wednesday that the rating service would not release individual networks’ numbers for the speech, leaving it to their “clients” to release that data.

Overall, President Bush’s antiterrorism-themed address marked 22 percent improvement in households (33.6/49 vs. 27.6/42) compared to his address on Feb. 27, 2001. Tuesday’s address, which lasted about 55 minutes, also marked a 30 percent jump in total viewers (51.7 million vs. 39.7 million) and 26 percent in total homes (35.5 million vs. 28.2 million) compared to his first speech to Congress.

In Nielsen’s preliminary fast national data, the Big 4 networks combined for a 27.1/40 in households (and 28.6 million total viewers). On an individual basis, perennial 6:30 p.m.-to-7 p.m. newscast leader NBC averaged an 8.9/13 in homes (13.1 million viewers), followed by ABC’s 8.0/12 (12.9 million), CBS’s 7.2/11 (10.4 million) and Fox’s 3.0/4 (4.6 million).

With the weblets UPN and The WB providing the only entertainment options from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., The WB’s “Smallville” delivered its second-best ratings ever (since the November sweeps) in females 12 to 34 (4.4/12), women 18 to 34 (4.2/10), households (4.2/6), adults 18 to 49 (2.5/6) and total viewers (7.0 million). “Smallville’s” 8 p.m-to-9 p.m. lead-in, “Gilmore Girls” also posted evening-best ratings in teen females (6.8/22) and females 12 to 34 (4.7/13). At the apparent request of UPN, Nielsen was still reprocessing rating numbers for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Roswell” at press time late Wednesday.

Karmazin to stay at Viacom: Early word out of the Viacom board meeting Wednesday is that Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin is still on the job and the company’s top management remains intact. While highly publicized differences between Mr. Karmazin and Viacom Chairman (and majority owner) Sumner Redstone were discussed during Wednesday’s previously scheduled meeting, no action was taken by the board.

Fourteen of 18 members board members would need to vote to remove Mr. Karmazin, who is especially popular with investors and credited with much of the company’s operating success. As previously reported by EM, Mr. Karmazin has said he has no plans to resign before his contract expires at the end of 2003. “The two have decided to stop fighting and to work it out,” said one high-level person close to the situation. There is no word on exactly how that will occur. Neither Viacom nor its executives would comment.

Shapiro, Grodner partner under new production banner: Veteran reality series producer Arnold Shapiro (“Big Brother 2,” “Scared Straight” “Rescue 911”) and longtime partner Allison Grodner (“The Teen Files,” “Flipped”) have formed a new production banner, Arnold Shapiro & Allison Grodner Productions, to develop new alternative series projects for the networks.

Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Grodner, along with development executive Amy Bailey, are said to be developing several reality series and specials for the broadcast and cable networks.

“Our experience on past projects under the Shapiro banner have shown us that we are stronger and more creative working together than separately,” said Mr. Shapiro, who also won an Academy Award for the documentary film “Scared Straight.” Ms. Grodner added: “We look forward to a long and productive partnership.”

The pair have been frequent collaborators over the last 13 years. Ms. Grodner was a producer-director on the long-running CBS series “Rescue 911” and the producer-director-writer on “The Teen Files” for UPN — the latter of which earned Emmy Awards for the producing duo. Last summer, Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Grodner executive produced CBS’s reality series “Big Brother 2” for Endemol USA. They recently completed “On Parole,” a reality pilot for Columbia TriStar Domestic Television, in association with Angry Dragon Entertainment.

Currently, Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Grodner are executive producing the series “Flipped” for MTV; “Parole Board” for A&E; a 90-minute special, “Small Town Ecstasy,” for HBO (premiering April 28); two specials for CBS titled “DNA: The Final Truth”; and several specials for MSNBC.

WPIX signs two-year Mets deal: Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV will continue to broadcast New York Mets baseball games in a two-year deal signed with Mets TV rights-holder MSG Networks. The deal covers both the 2002 and 2003 baseball seasons. WPIX will pay a rights fee to MSG Networks which will produce the TV broadcasts of the games. The station will handle its own advertising sales.

Shuman joins KCOP team: Los Angeles radio show host Phil Shuman has joined UPN affiliate KCOP-TV, Los Angeles as anchor and reporter. The announcement was made Wednesday by News Director Larry Perret. Beginning Feb. 4, Mr. Shuman will be part of the Unit 13 team and will anchor the “Best of Unit 13” on Saturdays and Sundays.

Former ‘L.A. Law’ cast members plan double NBC appearances: Talk about synergy run amok: The cast members of NBC’s former “L.A. Law” drama series (1986-94), who are being reunited for a TV movie (“L.A. Law: Return to Justice”) set to air this May, will also match wits against game show host Anne Robinson on a celebrity edition of “The Weakest Link” as part of an overall sweeps stunt.

Participating will be “L.A. Law: Return to Justice” stars Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, Corbin Bernsen, Larry Drake and Michele Greene. They will be joined by series cast members Kathleen Wilhoite, Sheila Kelley and Conchata Ferrell. The game’s “strongest link” will donate his or her winnings to a designated charity.

Upton to speak at MSTV conference: Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., will be the keynote speaker at an Association for Maximum Service Television-sponsored digital TV seminar Feb. 13 in Washington. Also slated to speak is Rick Chessen, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission’s digital TV task force.

Oxygen to debut ‘Sixteen’ in June: Sixteen is hardly sweet for the young women profiled in “Sixteen,” a four-part documentary set to premiere June 16 on Oxygen. The documentary is from Moxie Firecracker Films, founded by Rory Kennedy and Liz Garbus, which specializes in documentaries that illuminate social issues through the stories of everyday people.

CBS sets reality series debuts: CBS has scheduled its next flight of reality series — “AFP: American Fighter Pilot,” “The Amazing Race 2” and “Survivor: Marquesas” — for late February to early March rollouts.

Most notably, CBS is going beyond “Survivor 4’s” normal 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) Thursday run (starting Feb. 28), which will extend through the May sweeps, with a two-hour finale airing instead from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 19 — to be immediately followed by an hour-long reunion special. The key intent of the finale scheduling move is to maximize “Survivor 4’s” ratings by not having it compete against NBC’s Thursday powerhouse sitcom “Friends,” which regularly beat the reality series in the adults 18 to 49 demographic during two previous runs against it. The only intense competition “Survivor” may run against on May 19 is the expected series finale of Fox’s “The X-Files.”

Meanwhile, “AFP: American Fighter Pilot,” a new “Top Gun”-like reality series from noted filmmakers Ridley Scott (“Black Hawk Down,” “Gladiator”) and Tony Scott (“Top Gun,” “Spy Game”), will debut March 29 in the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. Friday time slot — joining Supreme Court drama “First Monday” and newsmag “48 Hours” in that night’s lineup.

Each week, “AFP” will give viewers never-before-granted access to the U.S. Air Force, where pilots face the rigorous and challengin
g task of passing an elite fighter pilot training program. In addition, the series also follows them at home, witnessing the impact the program has on their personal lives.

“Amazing Race 2,” from noted action film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”), will have a special preview on Monday, March 11 at 10 p.m., before moving to its regular 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Wednesday time slot on March 13. On March 13 and 20, “Amazing Race 2” will follow special Wednesday airings of “Survivor: Marquesas” to accommodate CBS’s Thursday coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 14 and 21.

Anti-terror ads on Super Bowl: The White House will be debuting two new anti-terrorism ads during this weekend’s Super Bowl, AdAge.com reports.

The cost of the ad buy by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is estimated at more than $1.6 million per 30-second spot, making it the largest single-event advertising purchase made by the U.S. government, according to AdAge.com.

The spots, directed by Tony Kaye (“American History X”), infer that profits from illegal drug sales may help fund terrorism.

The new campaign linking drugs and terrorism was developed by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, New York. As a provision of law, the Drug Control Policy Office will get free matching spots on other Fox Broadcasting events.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications

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