Tuning in to TV: ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ big draw for History

There’s nothing like a backwoods blood feud to excite television viewers on Memorial Day.

The first part of the History network’s miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” was seen by 13.9 million viewers on Monday night, more than 17 million when the immediate repeat was added in, the Nielsen company said. The numbers held up for part two on Tuesday, which was watched by 13.1 million, Nielsen said.

Those are huge numbers in the cable television world. No scripted series on the broadcast networks last week came close. By contrast, Fox’s series finale of “House” last week reached 8.7 million people.

“Hatfields & McCoys” had a couple of big-name stars in Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton and is airing over three nights in two-hour chunks. Broadcast television was dominated by competition shows again last week, led by the 21.5 million people who watched the “American Idol” finale on Fox. “Dancing With the Stars” and “America’s Got Talent” also did well.

Perhaps crowded by the marketplace, ABC’s “Duets” finished a modest No. 23 in the ratings, with 6.8 million viewers. Fox’s summer series “So You Think You Can Dance” also came out of the gate slowly, with 6.3 million viewers.

Robin Thicke could keep ‘Duets’ all in the family

Robin Thicke is a mentor on the new ABC singing series “Duets,” but the R&B crooner could find himself partnering on a song with his 2-year-old son, or wife, actress Paula Patton.

Mr. Thicke said both his wife and son can sing.

Miss Patton, whose film credits include “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” and “Mission Impossible 3,” sings a small part on a song Mr. Thicke produced for Usher, the slow groove “Can U Handle It.” It appears on Usher’s Grammy-winning, 2004 effort “Confessions,” one of the last decade’s top-selling albums.

“The song called for a female vocal, a very simple, more like a talk-whisper part and … I said, ‘Hey honey, you mind putting something down for me?’” he recalled. “And of course it turns out to be Usher’s biggest album and one of the biggest albums of all-time.”

Mr. Thicke, 35, said Miss Patton would ask him, jokingly, to let her sing on songs he worked on.

“She’d be like, ‘Hey baby, can I just sing a little song just so I can hear my voice on tape?’” Mr. Thicke said. “And I was like, ‘No! We’re not starting that. We are not going to get into the “you recording an album.” Go find another producer if you want to do that.’”

Mr. Thicke said there are no plans for Miss Patton to release her own music, though he admits: “She does a mean impression of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Diamond Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’ But nobody is allowed to see that. That’s just for daddy.”

Miss Patton gave birth to the couple’s son, Julian Fuego Thicke, in 2010. Mr. Thicke said the toddler also has singing skills.

“He has incredible pitch,” Mr. Thicke said. “He wakes up every morning and before he even cries to be taken out of his crib, the first thing he does is sing. He just kind of lies there in his crib and sings songs for a little while.”

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