Morning Star Power

Aug 29, 2005  •  Post A Comment

When “Derailed,” a suspense thriller in which Jennifer Aniston stars with British heartthrob Clive Owen, hits theaters in October, Ms. Aniston will appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” not on the “Today” show on NBC, her TV network for a decade when she starred in “Friends.”

Let the morning star wars begin again with the end of summer and the start of the 2005-06 season, in which “GMA” will renew its attempt to close the gap with “Today.” For the week of Aug. 15, according to data from Nielsen Media Research, “GMA” was up 17 percent versus a year ago to 4.94 million viewers, while “Today,” which was in Olympics mode a year ago, was down 19 percent to 5.34 million viewers.

For “GMA,” it’s time to bring back the “Desperate Housewives” who helped the ABC morning show pull to within 40,000 viewers of “Today” one week last spring. In addition to welcoming multiple “Desperate” cast members to “GMA,” the morning show will again run extra scenes from the show and is holding a send-in-your-video contest to find the show’s greatest fan. A “Desperate” trivia contest Sept. 22 will determine which of three finalists will get a “VIP trip” to Wisteria Lane.

NBC starts the season without the coattails of a monster prime-time hit to ride, so “Today” has launched a contest for “suburban correspondents” willing to dish the delish details on their neighbors, with a winner to be announced in early October.

Here’s The Insider’s early line on some of the movie star bookings on both morning shows.

In addition to Ms. Aniston, “GMA” has booked Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst (“Elizabethtown”), Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”), and Charlize Theron (“Class Action”).

“Today” will have its own Reese Witherspoon appearance when she and Mark Ruffalo promote “Just Like Heaven.” “Today’s” fall bookings also include Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and Morgan Freeman (“An Unfinished Life”), Tom Hanks (“Walking on the Moon in 3D”), Jessica Alba (“Into the Blue”), Cameron Diaz (“In Her Shoes”), Uma Thurman (“Prime”), Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal (“Jarhead”), and the casts of “Rent” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

As for major music stars, Barbra Streisand will not perform but will appear on “GMA” to promote her new album, which is being produced by Barry Gibb. “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer gets a sit-down with the Rolling Stones.

‘Rock Star’ Wannabe

Martha Stewart isn’t the only resurging star in reality kingpin Mark Burnett’s universe. He has turned Aussie band INXS’s search for a new lead singer into “Rock Star: INXS.” After a press conference for NBC’s upcoming “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” which Mr. Burnett executive produces, he had nothing but praise for the support he has gotten from CBS. The network gave “Rock Star” an extra half-hour last Wednesday. In return, the show posted its biggest audience and best demos yet, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Asked about “Rock Star” contestant J.D. Fortune, the polarizing Canadian showboat who is still sucking oxygen out of CBS Television City’s Stage 36 every Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr. Burnett grinned and said, “Everybody else is there for an audition. He’s there for a reality show.”

The tribe should have spoken on Mr. Fortune weeks ago.