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Tuning In

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

Democrats' debate

ABC has won the battle of the networks for the right to carry the next debate between Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the alphabet network will televise a 90-minute debate between the two in prime time on April 16, beginning live at 8 p.m. on the East Coast and tape-delayed at 8 p.m. for the West Coast. The debate, to be held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia six days before the Pennsylvania primary, will be moderated by "World News" anchor Charles Gibson and "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos.

Recent polls suggest Mrs. Clinton is slightly ahead of Mr. Obama in the Keystone State.

The "get" by ABC caps a nearly month-long battle between ABC and NBC after earlier debates with just Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama earned monster ratings for CNN and MSNBC. There were seven proposals before the campaigns for a debate before the April 22 primary. Both ABC and NBC lobbied the Clinton and Obama campaigns, which eventually agreed to ABC's proposal to televise the debate on the broadcast network.

NBC, which so far has televised its debates on MSNBC, would have aired this debate on its broadcast network.

CBS has made proposals to the Clinton and Obama campaigns ahead of the North Carolina primary: two dates at the end of April and one in early May. It would be moderated by Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer. The other networks also are working on debate dates.

April 16 holds meaning for many in the media-political sphere because it also is the night of the annual Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner. ABC said it was the only date available to hold the debate but added that it would have representation at the dinner.

Fan sues O's show

A woman claims in a lawsuit that she was injured in a dash for seats at Oprah Winfrey's talk show, Associated Press reports.

Orit Greenberg's lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 in damages, claiming that Miss Winfrey's Harpo Studios failed to control the audience on Dec. 5, 2006.

The complaint, filed last week in Illinois' Cook County Circuit Court, says audience members were told to sit where they wanted to sit. The crowd reportedly pushed Miss Greenberg down a flight of stairs, causing "severe and permanent injuries," the lawsuit states.

ESPN's 'Magic'

The first part of ESPN's documentary "Black Magic," which was televised commercial-free on March 16, was watched by an average of 1.2 million households, making it the network's most-watched documentary ever, MediaWeek.com reports.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and Wynton Marsalis, the film explores the injustices faced by black Americans during the civil rights movement as told through the lives of basketball players and coaches who attended and worked at historically black colleges and universities.

"Black Magic" broke the previous record set in March 2006 by "Through the Fire," which was watched in 1.1 million homes. The second part of "Black Magic," televised March 17, was seen in 948,000 homes, MediaWeek said.

D'Amato eyes TV gig

Al D'Amato has his sights set on daytime. The former U.S. senator from New York has received interest from major syndicators on a court show he is shopping for fall 2009.

Mr. D'Amato, a Republican who served in the Senate from 1981 to 1999, was nicknamed "Senator Pothole" for his willingness to meet with constituents and help them with their individual cases. He also was known for his lengthy and at times comical filibusters on the floor of the Senate, one of which found him answering questions from a visiting colleague, reciting names and singing "South of the Border." He published a book, "Power, Pasta & Politics: The World According to Senator Al D'Amato," in 1995 and founded the consulting firm Park Strategies four years later.

His representatives at Rebel Entertainment Partners declined comment Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Court shows are one of the most robust genres in first-run syndication, with no fewer than 11 on the air and two more — Sony's "Judge Karen" and Program Partners' "Family Court With Judge Penny" — set to debut this fall, the Hollywood Reporter notes. The programs are perceived as one of the safer bets in daytime because they continue to draw solid ratings, led by perennial front-runner "Judge Judy."

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