By ED BARK
Oh that wacky CW network -- if that's what you want to call it.
Its Sunday night partnership with Media Rights Capital has been severed, depriving American television audiences of the barely seen Valentine and Easy Money while ensuring that Surviving Suburbia, starring Bob Saget, never gets seen at all.
Instead CW will fill in its Sunday night blanks, beginning on Nov. 30th, with reruns of Jericho and a movie from 6 to 9 p.m. (central). They'll be preceded from 4 to 6 p.m. by repeats of Everybody Hates Chris and The Game plus a pair of Drew Carey Show reprises.
The Saget sitcom, announced by MRC last May, is now homeless without ever having a home on CW's sked. MRC was supposed to take care of Sunday nights for CW under an oddball outsourcing arrangement announced late last spring.
***Planet Earth's fans of ABC's Life On Mars might have been surprised to learn at the end of Thursday night's episode that the time-traveling series will be off the air until Jan. 28th. Mars also is getting a new home, on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. following Lost, which as previously announced returns on Jan. 21st with a two-hour serving.
ABC hasn't made any official programming announcements yet. But USA Today reports that the network will be dropping Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money in January after this season's orders of 13 episodes run their course.
The newspaper also says that Private Practice will move to Thursdays at 9 p.m. in January, following the series from which it spun, Grey's Anatomy.
Also in January, Scrubs will kick off its last season on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC, which rescued it from NBC. Urp, it's going to be paired on that night with new episodes of According to Jim.
NBC's already pivotal Sunday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will be further spiced by Bruce Springsteen's halftime performance of his new song, "Working On a Dream."
Springsteen is warming up for a bigger halftime performance at the Feb. 1st Super Bowl in Tampa, which also will be on NBC. But will the Cowboys show up?
***Earlier on the same Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes hopes to retain last week's crown as prime-time's most-watched show with the first post-campaign interview of president-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama.
CBS announced its latest big score Thursday, with correspondent Steve Kroft set to tape his interview with the Obamas on Friday, Nov. 14th in Chicago.
Last Sunday, Kroft led 60 Minutes with his election night interview of Obama's four principal campaign strategists. That edition drew 18.5 million viewers nationally to edge CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as prime-time's highest-rated show for the week of Nov. 3-9, according to Nielsen Media Research.
60 Minutes will have to do better than that Sunday night. Another CBS crime drama, NCIS, already is the clubhouse leader with a personal best 18.8 million viewers for Tuesday's episode.
***Tonight's the night (Thurs., Nov. 13) for Anthony Edwards' return to NBC's ER, where he'll reprise Dr. Mark Greene in a series of flashback scenes. ER is commemorating its 15th and final season with encore visits by some of the series' most popular stars and characters. The biggest fish of all, George Clooney, hasn't been landed yet. But you've got to think he'll reappear in some way before ER checks out sometime next year.
***HBO's live, sixth season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher is on Friday (Nov. 14th) at the usual 10 p.m. (central) start time. Scheduled roundtable guests are Ashton Kutcher, Jon Meacham and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The host's one-one-on interview subjects haven't been announced yet.
***NBC's Saturday Night Live has added two featured cast members, Abby Elliott and Michaela Watkins, with both joining the show on Nov. 15th.
Abby is the daughter of veteran comedian Chris Elliott and the granddaughter of the late Bob Elliott, who teamed with Ray Goulding to form the famed Bob & Ray comedy duo. She last worked with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, which was founded by Amy Poehler, who recently left the show as planned after having her first child.
Watkins comes from the Groundlings Theater, where former/current SNL cast members Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman, Laraine Newman and Kristen Wiig got started.
***Finally, Rosie O'Donnell is beginning to dribble out the guest list for her live Nov. 26th variety show on NBC. So far she has Kathy Griffin, Jane Krakowski, Alanis Morissette and Ne-Yo
By ED BARK
January's heavy-hitters are falling into place with Fox officially announcing its midseason plans while ABCs reportedly has set Jan. 21st as the fifth season premiere of Lost.
The trade newspaper Variety says Lost will return to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. (central) after spending last season on Thursdays as a direct lead-in to local late night newscasts.
ABC supposedly will reboot with back-to-back Lost episodes from 8 to 10 p.m. after a one-hour recap. Lost then settles back in at 8 p.m. on the following Wednesday (Jan. 28th).
ABC's Wednesday 8 p.m. incumbent, Private Practice, will either relocate to another night or move back an hour. It's been picked up for a full season, so cancellation's not in the cards.
Meanwhile at Fox, here comes Season 8 of American Idol with a two-night, four-hour launch on Jan. 13-14. That keeps the sing-a-thon in its regular Tuesday-Wednesday locale.
House, however, will move from Tuesdays at 7 p.m. to Mondays at the same hour, beginning Jan. 19th. Its 8 p.m. bunkmate is 24, which as previously reported returns on Jan. 11-12 with a four-hour running start.
Fringe, the freshman sci-fi series from Lost creator J.J. Abrams, remains on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., but with Idol as its new lead-in on Jan. 20th.
On Wednesdays, the new scripted crime series Lie To Me gets the post-Idol push, beginning on Jan. 21st. It stars the always edgy Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs as world-class "deception expert" Cal LIghtman, who "studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to discover not only if someone is lying, but why." Sounds a lot like The Mentalist, already a breakaway hit on CBS.
Another Fox newbie, Dollhouse, gets a lesser Friday slot, but not until Feb. 13th. Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) and co-starring former BVS regular Eliza Dushku, it dotes on "a highly illegal underground group of individuals who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas."
Dollhouse will be paired on Fridays with Fox's like-minded Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which has struggled on Monday nights this fall in tandem with Prison Break. Until then, Fox will keep its Friday night lights on with incumbents Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? and Don't Forget the Lyrics.
We're not done yet. Fox plans to relocate Bones from Wednesdays to Thursdays at 7 p.m., where it will lead into Hell's Kitchen, beginning on Jan. 29th. First though, Bones will pull two Thursday night shifts with Kitchen Nightmares, starting the week after Fox's Jan. 8th telecast of the Fedex BCS National Championship Game.
All of this moving and shaking will leave 'Til Death and Prison Break on the outside looking in. Fox says that both will be back "at a later date." Whatever.
By ED BARK
Fox's big-ticket attraction for the November "sweeps" finds agent Jack Bauer still ticking while on the lam in Africa.
24: Redemption, premiering as a self-standing movie on Nov. 23rd, sets the stage for 24's seventh season launch as a two-night, four-hour "event" on Jan. 11-12.
Kiefer Sutherland, officially back as Jack on Nov. 23rd, is doing missionary work in Africa when called on to stop a ruthless warlord from drafting school kids by force into his "murderous militia."
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., it's inauguration day for president-elect Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). Little does she know -- or does she? -- that "malevolent mastermind" Jonas Hodges, played by guest star Jon Voight, is working hard behind the scenes to further inflame an international crisis.
January's official kick-off of 24 in its usual hour-by-hour format will re-introduce Carlos Bernard as presumed dead CTU agent Tony Almeida. CTU is officially dead, too, according to Fox publicity materials. But two of Jack's longtime CTU comrades, Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lyn Rajskub) and Bill Buchanan (James Morrison), will be returning to the series in new guises.
24 also is adding "First Gentleman" Henry Taylor, played by Colm Feore, and returning Janeane Garofalo as agent Janis Gold.
Season 7 of 24 was supposed to begin unfolding in January, 2008, but the Writers Guild strike knocked it entirely off the air. So Jack hasn't been seen since May of 2007 in 24's sixth season finale. He looked pretty vexed.
FOX IS OVER THE "HILL"
King of the Hill has survived previous planned cancelations, but this time it's official -- on Fox at least. The network will be dropping its second-longest-running animated series -- starring the fictional Hills of fictional Arlen, TX -- after new episodes run out sometime next year.
"After 13 cycles, Hank and family are gone," Fox senior VP of communications Scott Grogin confirms.
There's a chance, though, says the trade newspaper Variety, that ABC might be interested in picking up King and pairing it at some point in late 2009 or early 2010 with its planned new animated series, The Goode Family. Both shows are creations of Austin's Mike Judge, whose first claim to fame was MTV's Beavis & Butt-head.
King of the Hill premiered on Jan. 12, 1996 and at last count has more than 250 episodes under its belt.
RATINGS HIGHS AND LOWS
Final national Nielsen numbers are in for Barack Obama's Oct. 29th half-hour prime-time pitch to the electorate and Fox's rain-delayed, five-game World Series between the victorious Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Series averaged 13.6 million viewers for its five games, making it by far the least-watched ever. The previous record-holder, 2006's five-gamer between the winning St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, drew 15.8 million viewers on Fox.
Nielsen Media Research has been keeping total viewers data on the World Series since 1973, when an average of 34.8 million viewers watched the Oakland A's defeat the New York Mets in seven games.
The all-time most-watched Series during that 36-year period is NBC's 1978 six-gamer between the victorious New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.
It averaged 44.3 million viewers during the course of further anointing Reggie Jackson as "Mr. October." In the 1977 Series, Jackson clubbed three straight home runs at Yankee Stadium in the deciding Game 6, with the Dodgers again on the losing end. A relatively modest 37.2 million viewers watched the '77 Series on ABC.
Obama's Oct. 29th presentation, carried on four broadcast and three cable networks, drew a total of 33.6 million viewers nationally. That shattered by previous record by Dallas billionaire Ross Perot, whose Nov. 4, 1996 half-hour commercial on three broadcast network was seen by 22.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Here's the official viewership scorecard for the Obama ad:
NBC -- 9.8 million
CBS -- 8.6 million
Fox -- 7.1 million
Univision -- 3.6 million
MSNBC -- 3.5 million
BET -- 714,000
TV One -- 307,000
ABC's competing telecast of its ratings-starved Pushing Daisies had 6.7 million viewers. In other words, it couldn't beat Obama's competing commercial on any of ABC's rival Big Three broadcast networks. This likely means that Pushing Daisies will be pushing daisies -- a k a -- canceled -- before the New Year rings in.