- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Daytime doldrums

Prime-time viewers don’t have much love for the stars of daytime television.

ABC’s Friday telecast of the 33rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards show was seen by just 6.1 million people, Associated Press says, citing Nielsen Media Research data. It ranked 70th last week among prime-time shows, trailing ABC’s “Wife Swap” and “The King of Queens” on CBS.

That’s down from 7.6 million viewers last year and is less than half its audience in 2000. The award show’s peak audience of just fewer than 22 million came in 1993, when people were still wondering whether Susan Lucci of “All My Children” would ever win.

ABC tried to boost interest in this year’s show by adding a performance by Rick Springfield and moving the show to Los Angeles for the first time.

Overall, CBS and Fox again dominated the week as the May ratings sweeps began. Combined, the two networks had 22 of the 30 most-watched shows in prime time last week. Fox’s “House, M.D.” is particularly on a roll, scoring its biggest audience ever with 24.5 million viewers.

CBS averaged 13.1 million viewers, while Fox had 10.3 million and also won for the 10th straight week among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers sought by advertisers. Following were NBC with 8.9 million viewers, ABC with 8.2 million, the WB with 3 million, UPN with 2.9 million and Pax TV with 450,000.

For the week of April 24 through 30, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 28.67 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 28.27 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 27.37 million; “House,” Fox, 24.52 million; and “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 21.30 million.

Caron’s new ‘Order’

The star of “An American in Paris” and “Gigi” will make a rare television appearance on NBC.

French actress Leslie Caron is filming an episode of “Law & Order: SVU” this week, Reuters news agency reports.

Miss Caron, 74, has been stealing the hearts of moviegoers since 1951, when she appeared in “An American in Paris” during the glory days of MGM. She then cemented her star status in such films as “Lili” and “The L-Shaped Room,” both of which brought her best-actress Oscar nominations.

More recently, Miss Caron appeared in the films “Chocolat” (2000) and “Le Divorce” (2004). Her “L&O;” episode will be directed by Juan Campanella, whose Argentine film “Son of the Bride” was nominated for the 2001 Academy Award as best foreign-language film.

‘Sopranos’ star busted

With Monday’s arrest of “Sopranos” co-star John Ventimiglia, the line between reality and the fictional HBO mob drama has become even more blurred.

Mr. Ventimiglia, who plays problem-prone chef Artie Bucco on the popular series, was arrested for drunken driving and cocaine possession, the New York Post reported in yesterday’s editions. According to the paper, the actor told police he drank four glasses of wine at a Manhattan restaurant before driving home in his 2004 Volkswagen Jetta.

Police said Mr. Ventimiglia was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic and that the car’s headlights were off. Officers reportedly said Mr. Ventimiglia, 37, smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet and had a baggie with cocaine residue in his back pocket. He was released on his own recognizance.

Mr. Ventimiglia is the latest “Sopranos” actor to learn that crime doesn’t pay off-screen.

Lillo Brancato Jr., who played Matt Bevilaqua, was charged with murder after he and an accomplice gunned down a police officer after he interrupted them robbing a home for drugs. Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) was arrested 28 times before becoming an actor.

In April 2002, Robert Iler (Anthony Soprano Jr.) pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny after police arrested him and three other teens for stealing $40 from two victims on a Manhattan street. Last April, Vincent Pastore, who played Sal Bonpensiero in the show, pleaded guilty to punching his former girlfriend and was sentenced to 70 hours of community service.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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