- - Monday, August 13, 2012

Viewers were incensed Sunday night when NBC cut away from the Olympics’ conclusion to air a sitcom featuring a monkey.

During 16 days from London, the sprawl of Olympics coverage was seemingly indomitable, running roughshod through the NBC schedule. Yet Sunday’s package of highlights from the closing ceremony deferred meekly to the preview of a new NBC comedy, “Animal Practice,” which then was followed by a half-hour of local news.

When taped Olympics coverage came to a grinding halt at 11 p.m. Eastern time, viewers were advised that the festivities would resume in one hour.

Accordingly, Ryan Seacrest at midnight greeted viewers who had chosen to stick it out.

“Welcome to the London closing party,” he chirped. “Now it’s time for the big finale.”

That would be a medley pounded out by the Who. Songs included such favorites as “Baba O’Riley” and “My Generation,” but not, as put-upon viewers might have noted, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”: After all the buildup, the Who were on hand for just eight minutes.

Olympics host Bob Costas then delivered a rhapsodic postscript before declaring a wrap for NBC’s Olympics coverage at 12:35 a.m. For this, viewers had waited an extra hour on a work night.

And by then, many of them might have been wondering why the ceremony package couldn’t have aired intact, ending conveniently at 11:08 p.m. and only slightly delaying NBC’s monkey business.

Agitated viewers with a long memory were likening Sunday’s Who-Airs-When fiasco to NBC’s “Heidi” moment nearly four decades earlier.

That was the faceoff between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets on Nov. 17, 1968, when Oakland scored two touchdowns in the game’s final minute to overwhelm New York’s 32-29 lead. But viewers in the East didn’t see the impossible comeback because NBC broke away from the game with the Jets still ahead to air its TV film “Heidi” at the scheduled 7 p.m. start time.

There was no Twitter then, but there was Sunday night — and it lit up with complaints.

“No better way to turn people off a new show than to preempt the who & other rock legends for it,” tweeted Nate Barlow.

And Nina L. Diamond voiced her ire in even stronger terms: “I think NBC has managed to become even less popular than Congress.”

New elements added to ‘The Voice’ format

“The Voice” is adding a bit of thievery to its format.

Executive producer Mark Burnett said Sunday that the singing contest will let coaches “steal” contestants from each other during the show’s “battle rounds.

The show also will introduce a new “knockout round” to slice the number of contestants on each coach’s team, Mr. Burnett told a Malibu, Calif., news conference. He was joined by coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, and host Carson Daly.

They were promoting the series’ third season, beginning Sept. 10 as “The Voice” adds a fall run to its original midseason slot.

Because the coaches have busy music careers, Mr. Burnett said, substitutes may be needed in the future. But the original four have “chairs for life,” he said.

‘Dancing’ all-star matchups lead to some reunions

Two-time “Dancing With the Stars” champion Cheryl Burke had the biggest conflict going into the show’s upcoming all-stars season. Among the crop of returning competitors, she has three former partners — two of them winners.

Miss Burke is reuniting with retired NFL star and season three winner Emmitt Smith. That leaves Miss Burke’s first partner and first win, Drew Lachey, with Anna Trebunskaya. Miss Burke’s other previous partner, Gilles Marini, joins reigning champ Peta Murgatroyd.

ABC announced the new duos on Monday’s “Good Morning America.”

Other reunited couples are Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson and the inevitable return of Kirstie Alley with her season 12 partner in crime Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Mark Ballas, who danced with both Bristol Palin and season eight winner Shawn Johnson, is back with Miss Palin. Miss Johnson’s consolation prize isn’t so bad, though. She’ll dance with the series’ winningest pro, Derek Hough.

Mr. Hough’s sister Julianne, a two-time winner, has been off the series for quite some time. Her returning partners, Helio Castroneves and Apolo Anton Ohno, will both vie for their second mirror balls with Chelsie Hightower and Karina Smirnoff, respectively.

Pamela Anderson and original “Dancing With the Stars” winner Kelly Monaco also return to the series with their original partners (Damian Whitewood and Alec Mazo, respectively) long out of the picture. Miss Anderson is now teaming up with Tristan MacManus, while Miss Monaco will dance with Val Chmerkovskiy.

There’s still room for one more celebrity to return, though. ABC will announce the final “fan favorite” competitor Aug. 27. Of the eligible trio — Kyle Massey, Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley — only Mr. Massey can still reunite with his former pro, the currently unbooked Lacey Schwimmer.

• Compiled from Web and wire reports.