By ED BARK
Fox already has "Animation Domination" on Sunday nights. How about TOTAL DOMINATION in the latest prime-time ratings week.
Sunday night's overtime NFC championship game between the victorious New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings averaged a garguantan 57.9 million viewers nationally, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That made it the most-watched conference climax in 28 years. Two editions of American Idol and Fox's post-game show ranked 2-3-4 during the week of Jan. 18-24, in which Fox averaged 24.4 million viewers. That more than doubled the total of runnerup CBS (9.6 million) and further dwarfed ABC (6.3 million) and NBC (5.3 million).
CBS bragged in a press release that it had nine of the week's top 10 scripted series, led by Two and a Half Men. But that's like saying that Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw nicer spirals than the Vikings' Brett Favre during the previous Sunday's 34-3 loss to Minnesota.
Fox also ran away with the ratings among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 11.6 million for the week while second place CBS had 2.4 million.
CBS still leads in total viewers in the season-to-date prime-time ratings, with 11.7 million compared to Fox's swelling total of 9.8 million. And CBS obviously will clean up on Feb. 7th with its telecast of what could well be the most-watched Super Bowl ever -- New Orleans vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
With Idol rolling along through May, Fox again has the 18-to-49 race pretty much locked up, averaging 4.8 million viewers in this age range in the season-to-date Nielsens while second-place CBS is at 4.1 million.
In the latest ratings week, ABC's most-watched program was Grey's Anatomy (12.7 million total viewers) while poor, pitiful, critically savaged NBC couldn't break the 10 million mark with anything. The Peacock's best performer, The Biggest Loser, ranked 20th with 9.9 million viewers. NBC had just three programs in the Top 40, none of them named The Jay Leno Show.
***TNT has renewed Men of a Certain Age for a second season while CBS is promising 21st and 22nd editions of Survivor and a 17th go-around for The Amazing Race.
The 20th Survivor, subtitled Heroes vs. Villains, premieres on Feb. 11th. And Amazing Race 16 gets out of its starting blocks on Feb. 14th.
As previously detailed, both of next month's returning editions have Texas contingents. For a look-see, go here and here.
By ED BARK
An unprecedented array of broadcast and cable networks will simulcast Friday night's two-hour Hope For Haiti Now benefit (7 to 9 p.m. central).
Headlining music acts so far include Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Sting, Coldplay, Bono, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Keith Urban and Rihanna.
A publicity release issued Wednesday also promises appearances by "more than one hundred of the biggest names in film, television and music." Most of them will be answering phones or giving testimonials on behalf of the thousands of Haitians victimized by last week's massive earthquake.
George Clooney, the benefit's principal organizer, will host the Los Angeles portion of the program, with Wyclef Jean presiding in New York City and CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Haiti.
The list of participating networks is prodigious. As of Wednesday's release, here it is:
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, The CW, CNN, BET, HBO, HBO Latino, MTV, VH1, CMT, TNT, Showtime, Comedy Central, Bravo, E! Entertainment, National Geographic Channel, Oxygen, G4, Centric, Current TV, Fuse, MLB Network, Epix, Palladia, SoapNet, Style, Discovery Health and Planet Green.
By ED BARK
Lots happened during my week-long sojourn in Pasadena covering the semi-annual Television Critics Association "press tour."
My employer for the week was locatetv.com, for which numerous dispatches were filed. Here's a list of highlights, with links to the complete stories.
***Simon Cowell announced that this will be his last season as a judge on American Idol. Beginning in fall 2011, he'll produce and be a judge on Fox's American version of The X Factor, the hit British talent competition that last year launched the career of Susan Boyle.
***NBC exec Jeff Gaspin confirmed that affiliate station pressure led the network to end its prime-time version of The Jay Leno Show. Gaspin also detailed his proposal to give Leno a new half-hour late night show that would precede Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. But O'Brien pointedly refused to go along, saying a half-hour delay of Tonight would irreparably damage NBC's long-running late night franchise. The two sides are still working out an official exit strategy, with O'Brien likely to be signing off after this week.
***Fox executives indicated their keen interest in O'Brien to host a late night show for their network.
***NBC announced its five 9 p.m. (central) replacement shows after the Winter Olympics end on Feb. 28th. Leno's last prime-time show will be on Feb. 11th, the night before NBC's telecast of the Olympic opening ceremonies from Vancouver, Canada.
***ABC announced second-season renewals for freshman comedies Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town. Fox said that Glee likewise will return for a second season and CBS later said in a press release that both NCIS: Los Angeles and The Good Wife will have sophomore seasons.
***And oh yeah, there was a big Lost panel, too, preceding the Feb. 2nd launch of the ABC series' sixth and final season.
By ED BARK
Citing irregularities, Fox and executive producer Mark Burnett have agreed to cancel next week's scheduled premiere of Our Little Genius.
In a statement issued late Thursday afternoon (central time), Burnett said he "recently discovered that there was an issue with how some information was relayed to contestants during the pre-production of Our Little Genius. As a result, I am not comfortable delivering the episodes without re-shooting them. I believe my series must always be beyond reproach, so I have requested that Fox not air these episodes."
Little Genius, starring pre-pubescent brainiacs, was to have premiered on Wednesday, Jan. 13th following that week's second episode of American Idol's Season 9. Idol now will be extended to 90 minutes, followed by a reprise of the 450th episode of The Simpsons, which will first air this Sunday.
A scheduled Jan. 19th episode of Little Genius will be replaced by an encore of the new Fox series Human Target, which launches on Sunday, Jan. 17th.
A companion Fox Broadcasting Company statement says that "even though we were incredibly pleased with the quality of Our Little Genius, we respect and appreciate his (Burnett's) due diligence and the decision to pull these episodes. We agree there can be no question about the integrity of our shows."
Fox also said that families who participated in the scrapped episodes "will receive their winnings, and we are grateful for their participation."
TV Bulletin Board (Thurs., Jan. 7) -- former golden boy Colby Donaldson rides again in Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains
By ED BARK
A trio of native Texans, including former Christoval "cowboy" Colby Donaldson, are in the mix on CBS' 10th anniversary edition of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.
Donaldson, who owned a car customizing shop in Dallas when he was first cast, finished as the heroic heartthrob runnerup on 2001's Survivor: The Australian Outback.
The show was at the height of its popularity back then. And the Texas Tech grad, now 35, envisioned a bright acting future for himself when he subsequently relocated to Hollywood. But his last listed credit is as "Sleazy Man" in a 2006 episode of the now defunct WB's shortlived Pepper Dennis series.
"The Colbster", as he was dubbed by host and subsequent close personal friend Jeff Probst, also joined the cast of 2004's Survivor: All-Stars, where he was quickly voted off. His nemesis on both Outback and All-Stars, blood-curdling vixen Jerri Manthey, likewise will be a part of the Heroes vs. Villains edition, which premieres on Feb. 11th.
Donaldson obviously returns as a hero while Manthey gets a villain hat.
"Why is Colby back? We had such a history," she says in a CBS promotional video.
Also cast as bad guys in the new edition are super-duplicitous Russell Hantz of Dayton, Texas (runnerup on the just-concluded Survivor: Samoa) and Austin's Randy Bailey, the 11th competitor evicted on 2008's Survivor: Gabon.
No one from 2000's first edition of Survivor is among the 20 returnees in Heroes vs. Villains. Inaugural winner Richard Hatch would have been a logical choice as one of the primo bad-nasties. But he was otherwise occupied serving a federal sentence for tax evasion before being released on Oct. 16th of last year. Production on Heroes vs.Villains was already underway by then.
For the complete new cast, selected from among 301 possibilities, go here.
***Not getting enough of Katie Couric? Most people aren't watching her in the first place, but CBS has an app for that. Namely The CBS News Katie Couric App, announced this week. It offers "Katie fans an additional opportunity to discover and experience the depth of CBS News coverage through her eyes," says a publicity release.
Included is the Katie Couric Notebook Blog and excerpts from her interviews with the likes of Al Gore, Michelle Obama, Shakira and Glenn Beck. IPhone and ipod owners can get the app for free via the App Store.
***While still recovering from Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone will be playing a cop-turned-prosecutor on a four-episode arc of NBC's Law & Order: SVU. There's no air date yet. Nor has NBC announced a name for her character. But executive producer Dick Wolf duly says, "It is obviously a thrill and a delight to have a star of Sharon's wattage and importance joining SVU."