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Feb 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC Picks Up ‘Super Millionaire’

ABC picked up another short run of “Super Millionaire” to air in May. Regis Philbin will return to host the program. While “Super Millionaire” hasn’t drawn as huge ratings as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” did when it originally debuted, its four airings so far this week have improved ABC’s time period performance every time it has aired and on average builds on its lead in by more than 4 million viewers.

“With ‘Super Millionaire,’ the ‘Millionaire’ franchise is an event again,” said executive producer Michael Davies. “This is how this show was designed to be scheduled and it’s how it works best. Regis has been amazing and we’re both delighted with the early pick up. Neither of us can wait until May.”

Allen Still Top TV-Connected Billionaire: Charter Communications Chairman and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen retained his place as the highest-ranking billionaire with ties to the television industry, according to Forbes magazine, which pegged him as the fifth-richest person in the world for 2004 with a net worth of $21 billion.

Anne Cox Chambers and Barbara Cox Anthony, the daughters of James Cox, founder of Cox Enterprises, which controls cable operator Cox Communications, were the second-highest-ranking television-connected billionaires on the list, with each sister’s worth pegged at $11.2 billion, 23rd on the overall list.

The list, which Forbes compiles every year, continued to find Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on top, with a net worth of $46.6 billion, followed by investment king Warren Buffett, who’s worth $42.9 billion. A total of 587 people made the list, which requires a net worth of at least $1 billion to qualify.

Among those in the television crowd, EchoStar Communications Chairman Charles Ergen was the third-richest TV person, with a net worth of $9.1 billion, which placed him 33rd on the overall list.

Viacom Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone wasn’t too far behind, with a net worth of $8.9 billion to rank 34th.

Other media types on the list included MGM majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian ($6 billion, and 65th), Univision Communications Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio ($2.7 billion, 186th), “The Apprentice” star Donald Trump ($2.5 billion, 205th), Cablevision Systems Chairman Charles Dolan ($1.8 billion, 310th) and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone ($1.8 billion, 310th).

Barry Diller placed 406th, with a net worth of $1.4 billion, while Oprah Winfrey was 514th, with a value of $1.1 billion. Dissident Disney shareholder Roy E. Disney ranked 552nd with a net worth of $1 billion.

Who got dropped off the list? BET founder Robert Johnson failed to make the cut, having seen his net worth tumble to $700 million from a year-earlier level of $1.2 billion thanks to his divorce from former wife Sheila.

Martha Stewart Faces Fewer Charges: The federal judge presiding over the trial of Martha Stewart Friday threw out the most serious charge against the domestic diva, just as prosecutors and defense attorneys were preparing to give their closing arguments and the case was expected to be handed to a jury for deliberations.

U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum dismissed the securities fraud charge against Ms. Stewart, which claimed Ms. Stewart lied about her sale of shares in ImClone Systems to help prop up the stock of her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Legal experts had widely expected the judge to throw out the securities fraud charge, which had been viewed as a long shot.

However, Judge Cedarbaum let the other four charges-conspiracy, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to investigators-stand. Judge Cedarbaum did not toss out any of the four charges against Ms. Stewart’s broker Peter Bacanovic.

NBC, CBS Split Thursday: Thursday night was business as usual with NBC winning adults 18 to 49 and CBS taking total viewers. “Friends” won the 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. time slot in adults 18 to 49 (10.6/27) and total viewers (22.9 million), while the first half of CBS’s “Survivor” finished second in both measures, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

CBS and NBC swapped the lead at 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the second half of “Survivor,” which pulled a 9.4/23 in adults 18 to 49 and 23.8 million viewers, beating NBC’s “Will & Grace” (8.6/21 in the demo and 18.4 million viewers). ABC’s “Bachelorette: After the Final Rose” special finished third for the hour with a 2.5/6 in adults 18 to 49 and 7.2 million viewers.

At 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., CBS’s “CSI” (9.9/23) edged out NBC’s “The Apprentice” (9.8/23) in adults 18 to 49 and won total viewers with 28 million to “Apprentice’s” 20 million. NBC’s “ER” (10.4/26 in the demo and 21.8 million viewers) easily beat out CBS’s “Without a Trace” (5.7/14 and 16.9 million viewers) at 10 p.m. ABC’s special “Super Millionaire” airing at 10 p.m. mustered only a 3.5/9 in adults 18 to 49 and 11.7 million total viewers.

For the night, NBC won adults 18 to 49 with a 9.9/24, followed by CBS (8.0/20), ABC (2.9/7), Fox (2.4/6), UPN (1.9/5) and The WB (0.9/2). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 22.3 million, followed by NBC (20.8 million), ABC (8.9 million), Fox (5.8 million), UPN (5.1 million) and The WB (2.7 million).