- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PTC’s new target

The Parents Television Council is on the attack again, this time targeting AMC’s “Mad Men” for what it calls explicit sexual content on Sunday night’s third-season premiere.

Although the basic cable channel gave the show a TV-14 (L, S) rating - “which means that the company thinks that the episode was appropriate for 14-year-old children,” PTC says - the group has taken issue with the episode’s “shot of a character’s hand going down into the underwear of another character for sexual stimulation.”

Other examples also were cited, including “a half-naked woman whose hands covered her breasts just before insinuating that she had sex with another character, and a graphic scene involving a prostitute who threatens to cut off a man’s penis.

“It’s unconscionable that AMC would rate programming like this as being appropriate for 14-year-old children. The graphic sexual content on this episode demands a TV-MA rating, yet broadcasters and cable networks like AMC fear that such a rating would make the program unattractive or untenable for advertisers,” PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement released Monday.

“This is just the latest example of the inherent problem with the TV-content rating system - a system without accuracy, consistency, transparency or accountability,” Mr. Winter continued, while also calling for unbundled programming for cable subscribers.

Sunday night’s third-season premiere of”Mad Men” beat the series’ record, drawing 2.8 million total viewers at 10 p.m., says TVWeek.com, citing a report from the Hollywood Reporter.

Citing Nielsen overnight numbers, THR says the audience was the show’s largest ever, up 33 percent from last year’s second-season premiere.

Clarkson, James team

Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson and basketball star LeBron James are teaming up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and broadcaster Viacom Inc. for a TV special to encourage America’s youth to “Get Schooled,” the Hollywood Reporter notes.

The “American Idol” winner and the Cleveland Cavaliers forward will talk about the role education has played in their lives in the 30-minute show on Sept. 8, THR says. It will be broadcast simultaneously across MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and 18 other youth-oriented Viacom TV channels.

“Get Schooled: You Have the Right” formally kicks off a five-year national initiative developed by Viacom and the Gates Foundation. The initiative was set up by Mr. Gates to address the challenges facing American education.

Mr. Gates dropped out of Harvard University more than 30 years ago to focus on Microsoft Corp., and Miss Clarkson and Mr. James both skipped college to focus on their careers. Yet both stars will discuss the key educators in their lives who helped them succeed, show organizers said.

CBS hits with ‘Bang’

It’s looking like CBS has a companion hit to go with “Two and a Half Men” on Monday nights.

The audience for summer reruns of the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” is up 52 percent over last summer. Nielsen Media Research says the show had nearly as many viewers as television’s top-rated comedy, “Two and a Half Men.”

Summertime second runs are often when a show catches on. That happened last year with “NCIS” on CBS, which last week was the most popular drama on television.

For the week of Aug. 10-16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 12.88 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 12.03 million; “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 11.79 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 9.15 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 8.83 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8.64 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 7.643 million; “Big Brother 11” (Sunday), CBS, 7.636 million; “Big Brother 11” (Thursday), 7.48 million; “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Monday), ABC, 7.27 million.

Honoring Cronkite

The White House says President Obama is among the dignitaries scheduled to speak at a memorial service for the late CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite next month.

According to Associated Press, the memorial is set for Sept. 9 at New York’s Lincoln Center.

A CBS executive - who spoke on condition of anonymity because plans aren’t finalized - says the public will be invited to attend, with ticket arrangements to be announced later. The anchorman once known as “the most trusted man in America” died at age 92 last month.

The speakers list isn’t complete, but the executive says former President Bill Clinton, “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric, “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer and veteran NBC broadcaster Tom Brokaw are expected.

Mickey Hart, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Feinstein, Jimmy Buffett and the U.S. Marine Corps band are the anticipated performers, AP says.

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

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