- - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Television viewers can’t get enough of those zombies.

The Nielsen ratings company said Monday that 9 million people watched the second-season finale of “Walking Dead” on AMC Sunday night. That’s the largest audience ever for an episode of the series.

According to the Associated Press, it also was the most-watched original drama episode ever on basic cable among some key demographics, including viewers younger than 49 and among young men, although it fell short of being the most-watched drama ever on basic cable.

The show’s season average of 6.9 million viewers was up 32 percent from the first season.

Chris Rock, Bette Midler to induct Hall of Fame acts

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony likely will be a little more irreverent this year: Chris Rock is set to be one of the A-list presenters for the April event.

The comedian is due to induct the Red Hot Chili Peppers into the hall at the ceremony at the hall in Cleveland on April 14, according to the Associated Press. The ceremony will be broadcast on May 5 on HBO. Mr. Rock is a big fan and has been a friend of the band for a while.

Mr. Rock will join Bette Midler, who will induct the late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro; John Mellencamp, who’ll induct former tour mate Donovan; Chuck D, who will induct the Beastie Boys; and Stevie Van Zandt, who will induct the Small Faces/the Faces, which included Rod Stewart.

Ansari’s new special to debut on website

Aziz Ansari is bringing his new stand-up special straight to his fans. The “Parks and Recreation” star is bypassing cable networks to release his latest comedy special on his website.

The comedian said his “Dangerously Delicious” stand-up special would be available online worldwide for $5 beginning Tuesday. Fans can download or stream the 60-minute show without commercials or restrictions.

Mr. Ansari said he was inspired by the popularity of his comedy clips on YouTube and by the success of fellow comic Louis C.K., who sold his “Live at the Beacon Theater” online in December and brought in more than $1 million.

Mr. Ansari has promoted his appearances to his 1.7 million followers on Twitter and planned to use the site to spread the word about his new special.

OWN network announces layoffs, restructuring

Oprah Winfrey’s struggling television network, OWN, said Monday it is laying off one-fifth of its workers and restructuring its operations in New York and Los Angeles.

The decision to let 30 employees go is a “tough” one, but the economics of a startup cable network didn’t fit with OWN’s cost structure, Miss Winfrey said in a statement.

“As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step,” Miss Winfrey said.

The responsibilities of the laid-off workers will be distributed among people with the network and its venture partners, Discovery Communications and Miss Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, according to OWN.

The cable channel, which launched Jan. 1, 2011, endured a freshman year of executive turnover and missteps that proved OWN lacked a solid foundation on which to build. This was despite a Discovery Communications investment of a reported $250 million and counting.

Discovery executives will take a more active role in the channel, according to the announcement.

OWN started as an ambitious new platform for Miss Winfrey after she stepped away from her long-running, top-rated daytime talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” But viewership for OWN shows has been largely unimpressive, with one example being a short-lived Rosie O’Donnell talk show, which was canceled last week.

OWN got a burst of viewer attention this month for Miss Winfrey’s exclusive interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, which drew 3.5 million viewers, the channel’s biggest audience to date.

‘Desperate Housewives’ jury deadlocks for mistrial

A judge declared a mistrial Monday in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful-termination trial after the jury deadlocked, leaving an unresolved finale to a trial that focused on the behind-the-scenes intrigue and personalities of TV’s “Desperate Housewives.”

Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White excused the panel after it deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the claim by Miss Sheridan.

Miss Sheridan strolled out of the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Her attorney, Mark Baute, said he would retry the case.

The jury first reported problems in deliberations on Thursday then resumed discussions Monday. It later reported no change and said they didn’t expect any additional time or attorneys’ arguments would help break the impasse.

Two jurors who sided with Miss Sheridan said after being released that the deliberations hinged on witness credibility, but they wouldn’t specify whom they found to be more trustworthy.

Miss Sheridan had been seeking roughly $6 million from her former employers. She claimed her role as Edie Britt was eliminated because she complained that series creator Marc Cherry struck her in the head during a September 2008 on-set dispute.

ABC attorneys denied all wrongdoing and presented witnesses who said Mr. Cherry received permission from top studio and network officials to kill Britt four months before his dispute with Miss Sheridan.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.



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