- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gosselins tumble

Has the Gosselins’ 15 minutes of fame finally ended?

Monday’s return of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” on TLC didn’t draw near the audience of the show’s breakup episode in June.

According to Zap2it.com, about 4.2 million people tuned in to the back-to-back episodes, which featured the first new episode in six weeks and the first since Jon and Kate Gosselin announced they were divorcing in late June. That will put the show in the upper echelon of the cable ratings for the week, but it’s a steep drop from the series high of 10.6 million viewers who watched the breakup episode on June 22.

The numbers for Monday’s show, however, are an improvement over what the series was pulling in just before the June 22 episode. After a huge opening (9.8 million viewers) in May, “Jon and Kate” took a nose dive in subsequent weeks. By mid-June, it had tumbled to under 3 million viewers, notes Zap2it.com.

Monday’s show featured the debut of the couple’s new separate interview chairs (replacing the now-departed confessional couch) and focused on a pre-divorce filing remodel of the couple’s kitchen and Kate Gosselin attempting to set up a backyard campout for her brood.

Prime-time peek

NBC Universal has created a prime-time preview special that will extensively air across all of the company’s properties to help promote the network’s fall lineup.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the half-hour special will run on NBC; such cable networks as USA, Bravo and Syfy; on the network’s Web site; and on 11,000 American Airlines flights.

“The NBC Prime-Time Preview Show” will be hosted by Joel McHale, current host of E!’s “The Soup” and star of the new NBC comedy “Community,” and feature exclusive, behind-the-scenes previews of fall shows and an appearance by Jay Leno, who launches his new 10 p.m. series on Sept. 14.

NBC Universal estimates the program will air 306 times across cable and broadcast platforms - not counting online streaming and airline plays. The special begins airing Saturday.

The special, which has become an annual tradition, will spotlight the new NBC dramas “Trauma” and “Mercy,” “Community,” reality hit “The Biggest Loser,” and NBC’s Thursday-night comedies, “Heroes,” “Southland” and “Sunday Night Football,” among others.

The thrust of NBC’s fall premiere week kicks off Sept. 21.

‘Children’ L.A. bound

“All My Children” is switching coasts.

ABC confirmed the long-standing rumor that the long-running daytime drama would move from New York to Los Angeles. At the same time, the network will move “One Life to Live” into “All My Children’s” old New York facility.

According to Variety, the move will give “Children” a production facility twice the size of its old one. The change, which takes place at the start of 2010, will also allow both “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” to start broadcasting in high-definition, the trade publication says.

However, the change also comes with more cost-cutting. The soap world has already been hit hard by network belt-tightening; CBS, for example, is about to end the run of long-standing soap opera “Guiding Light.”

“The move to Los Angeles enables both ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ to dramatically improve the series production models and achieve significant efficiencies while enhancing each show,” says ABC’s Brian Frons. “We had to examine every option on the table to combat current economic realities and rising costs of production.”

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti says “All My Children” will be shot in the city’s Glassell Park neighborhood.

“We have been working hard to bring production back, and this is great,” Mr. Garcetti said via Twitter.

“Children” will join “General Hospital” as one of the ABC soaps taped on the West Coast.

HBO’s banner Sunday

Home Box Office’s Sunday-night lineup continues to raise viewers, with the vampire series“True Blood” earning its best-ever mark and “Hung” and “Entourage” notching their second-best performances of the season, Multichannel.com reports.

Sunday night’s installment of “True Blood” at 9 netted 4.3 million watchers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The drama, which stars Oscar winner Anna Paquin, helped set the stage for “Hung” (10 p.m.). The series, starring Baltimore native Thomas Jane as a high school teacher/gigolo, attracted 3.4 million that night. That was followed by 3.3 million viewers for the premium cable channel’s Hollywood buddy series “Entourage.”

Counting linear plays, DVR and HBO On Demand viewing, “True Blood” has averaged a gross audience of 11.2 million during its sophomore season-to-date (excluding Sunday’s entry). For their part, “Hung” and “Entourage” have gross audience averages of 10.2 million and 7.4 million, respectively.

Last week, at the Television Critics Association press tour, HBO announced plans to bring back all three shows for another summer run in 2010.

CMT takes the ‘5th’

MTV Networks’ Country Music Television has acquired the exclusive cable rights to Twentieth’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” in a multiyear deal, Mary Beth Cunin, CMT’s senior vice president of programming strategy, tells Broadcastingcable.com.

The show, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, will premiere as a daily strip on CMT Sept. 21.

As part of the deal, CMT and Twentieth will work together to produce themed episodes of the series, such as a country-music week, B&C reports. Original episodes of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” are being produced for broadcast and cable syndication to launch this fall.

The game show originally premiered on Fox in February 2007 and pits real fifth-graders against adults in a game of intellect and skill, with the fifth-graders usually presiding.

Two Bens ousted

Producers of TV’s “At the Movies” say co-hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz are being replaced after just one year, Associated Press reports.

ABC Media Productions says that starting next month, the long-running movie-review show will pair film critics A.O. (Tony) Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.

The change reflects a move back to more traditional roots for the show after a year its detractors dismissed as lightweight and too fast-paced.

“At the Movies,” originally hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, is beginning its 24th season in syndication. It airs locally on WUSA9.

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

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