- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tonight’s the night

After coaching the “American Idol” finalists to perform his songs on last night’s elimination program, superstar rocker Rod Stewart steps into the spotlight for tonight’s results show, which will trim the remaining seven contenders to six (9 p.m. on Fox).

Mr. Stewart — who at 61 probably thought twice about belting out his ‘70s hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” with a bunch of twentysomethings onstage — reportedly will take a more sedate turn by performing “The Way You Look Tonight” from his chart-topping 2002 CD “It Had to Be You … The Great American Songbook.”

His “Idol” appearance as coach-mentor-performer follows those of such musical luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Kenny Rogers and Barry Manilow. Queen did the coaching honors last week but did not perform on the April 12 results showcase, prompting Internet buzz that the Brit rockers failed to appear because of the on-air bickering between guitarist Brian May and contestant Ace Young over Mr. Young’s take on “We Will Rock You.”

According to Yahoo Music, Mr. May addressed the confusion on his Web blog, saying that Queen never intended to perform and that the verbal spat with Mr. Young had nothing to do with it.

Glad he cleared that up.

Mr. Young, who last week narrowly escaped elimination, will be front and center tonight with fellow hopefuls Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin, Kellie Pickler, Katharine McPhee, Paris Bennett and Taylor Hicks.

The long goodbye

While “Idol” gets set to send another wannabe superstar packing, Jennifer Garner steps back into the shoes of super secret agent Sydney Bristow as “Alias” begins winding down its five-year run.

Just eight episodes remain after tonight’s two-hour return with back-to-back installments (beginning at 8 on ABC) titled “S.O.S.” and “Maternal Instinct.”

Die-hard fans will recall: When we last saw Sydney in December, she was pregnant and stranded on a barge in the middle of the ocean (Miss Garner is married to actor Ben Affleck and gave birth to a daughter, Violet, in December).

So, what’s next?

Sydney’s pregnancy and the baby’s birth are among several plotlines that will be resolved before the series finally bows out next month during May sweeps. Fans also have pondered the fate of Vaughn (Michael Vartan), wondering whether he’s really dead. We saw the bullet-riddled body, and there even was a funeral. With “Alias,” though, this could all be a ruse — and Mr. Vartan is scheduled to appear on the show in coming weeks.

Wholly Moses

A remake of the 1956 classic “The Ten Commandments” may have helped increase Charlton Heston’s fan base.

ABC’s 25th annual showing of the movie, in which Mr. Heston portrays Moses, was seen by slightly fewer than 9 million viewers on April 15. That’s 2 million more than the movie’s audience in 2005, when it also was shown the Saturday before Easter, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

The best explanation would be that viewer interest was piqued by the two-part remake of the movie, which drew 13.9 million viewers on April 10 and 12 million on April 11. Both finished out of Nielsen’s top 10 shows for the week but did better than ABC’s regular programming on those nights.

Elsewhere on ABC, the scant 8.2 million viewers for “Commander in Chief” — which returned Thursday after a long hiatus — has increased the likelihood that Geena Davis will be a one-term, or rather one-year, president.

CBS won the week, averaging 11.4 million viewers. ABC was second with 9.7 million, Fox was third with 9.6 million viewers but handily won again among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers sought by advertisers. NBC had 8 million, the WB had 2.9 million, UPN had 2.7 million, and Pax TV had 430,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3.4 million, followed by Telemundo with 720,000 and TeleFutura with 550,000.

For the week of April 10 through 16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 29.65 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 24.43 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 22.64 million; “House, M.D.,” Fox, 21.2 million; and “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 20.02 million.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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