- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Crime pays

When it comes to summer TV, the public wants the long arm of the law to snatch its prey.

Ten of the 16 most-watched shows last week featured self-contained criminal themes, Associated Press reports.

Shows such as “CSI” on CBS and “Law & Order: SVU” on NBC feature story lines that begin and end within an hour’s time — perfect for rerun viewing, apparently.

On the other hand, the news from Nielsen Media Research wasn’t as rosy for the latest batch of reality-show offerings, including Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” ABC’s “Hooking Up” and NBC’s “The Law Firm.” ABC’s “Brat Camp,” however, continued its modest summer success.

Overall, CBS won the week by averaging a little less than 7 million viewers in prime time. NBC had 5.8 million, ABC had 5.2 million, Fox had 5.1 million, UPN had 2.8 million, the WB had 1.7 million and Pax TV had 700,000.

For the week of July 25 through 31, the top five broadcast shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 13.4 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 11.3 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 10.3 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 9.6 million; and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” NBC, 9 million.

Together for ‘Life’t

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are stuck together for another season of “The Simple Life” even if they’re not speaking to each other, Associated Press reports.

Fox announced Thursday that the network has picked up the options on the contracts for both of the feuding friends for the fourth season of the reality show. Aside from the public rift, Fox sees other fodder for on-screen sparks.

“Given the fact that both Paris and Nicole are engaged and about to be married … there’s got to be something in that world,” said Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori, according to AP Radio.

Miss Richie, 23, became engaged to club DJ Adam Goldstein in February. Miss Hilton, 24, followed suit in late May with Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis.

In April, Miss Hilton issued a terse statement saying it was “no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends. Nicole knows what she did, and that’s all I’m ever going to say about it.”

The hotel heiress gave no reason for the split. She also lobbied for Miss Richie — the daughter of singer-songwriter Lionel Richie — to be replaced by another friend of hers, Rod Stewart’s 25-year-old daughter, Kimberly.

An air date for “The Simple Life 4” has not yet been set.

Oprah’s novel approach

ABC and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” into one of the most-watched TV movies of last season, are looking to bring one of Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s books to the small screen, Zap2it.com reports.

Harpo Films, the movie arm of Miss Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, is in talks with ABC about an adaptation of Miss Morrison’s 1998 novel “Paradise,” the tale of a small all-black town in Oklahoma. The project, planned as a four-hour miniseries, is still in the early stages of development, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” was a big success for ABC, drawing 24.5 million viewers in March — an audience comparable to that of the show it bumped for its premiere, “Desperate Housewives.” The made-for-TV movie earned two Emmy nominations, including one for its star, Halle Berry.

However, Miss Winfrey’s last filming of a Morrison novel didn’t go very well. The 1998 feature-film adaptation of “Beloved,” which starred the TV talk-show titan and actor Danny Glover, was a commercial and critical flop.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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