- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Critter casting call

Think Fido or Buttons ought to be in pictures, or at least on the small screen? Pax TV wants to help.

The cable network is crisscrossing the country to find creative critters to star in its new “Animal Tails” show, hosted by Mark Curry (“Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”).

The impromptu auditions will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Alexandria Toyota, 3750 Jefferson Davis Highway. Participants and their pets will be taped for potential show use.

Mr. Curry, a veteran stand-up comic and sitcom star, will be on hand to help bring out the best in the beasts and ease any jitters of the participants.

All pets are eligible for a close-up.

The hourlong series features such regular segments as “Tails of the Rich and Famous” with Hollywood’s star pooches, plus “Amazing Pet Makeovers” and “America’s Most Talented Animals.”

“Animal Tails” airs at 6 Sunday nights.

CBS on top

Who says young folk don’t watch the Tiffany network?

CBS did more than just, ho-hum, win the ratings war yet again last week. The network beat NBC among viewers ages 18 to 49, Associated Press reports.

The win was the first time CBS, which generally skews older, triumphed in this cherished demographic during the key November sweeps period since at least 1987, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The rest of last week’s ratings held few surprises.

Perennial winner “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” came up strong once more, proving the week’s most popular program by a whopping margin of more than 8 million viewers over its closest rival.

Other good news for CBS abounded, as the network licked its wounds over “The Reagans” miniseries debacle.

Airing Sunday night, “The Elizabeth Smart Story,” its made-for-TV film about the kidnapped Utah teen did better than NBC’s competing Jessica Lynch flick in the battle of news-inspired dramas. Reality stalwart “Survivor” outdistanced “Friends” in the Thursday-night battle royal, and “60 Minutes” was the week’s most popular newsmagazine, beating Barbara Walters’ Martha Stewart interview on ABC’s “20/20.”

Even CBS’ country telecast proved an eye-opener. Its live broadcast of the Country Music Association awards drew a healthy 20.7 million viewers — its best showing since 1993.

ABC’s “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” enjoyed its biggest audience ever in the first episode without John Ritter. It remains to be seen if the second-year show will retain those viewers as it slowly transitions from mourning back to humor.

NBC’s “Nightly News” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 10.9 million viewers (7.6 rating, 15 share). ABC’s “World News Tonight” had 10.4 million (7.2, 14) and the “CBS Evening News” recorded 8.3 million (5.9, 11).

A ratings point represents 1.084 million households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Nov. 3 through 9, the top five shows, their networks and viewership are: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29.6 million; “Survivor: Pearl Islands,” CBS, 21.4 million; “Country Music Association Awards,” CBS, 20.7 million; “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” ABC, 20.5 million; and “Friends,” NBC, 20.4 million.

Daddy dividend

TV Guide Online

Speaking of ratings …

Fatherhood has been good to David Letterman. His “Late Show” trailed “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” by just six-tenths of a ratings point last week, the smallest margin since February 2000. Mr. Letterman announced his son’s arrival on his Nov. 3 show.

WB extends four

The WB is giving tentative green lights to four freshman comedies.

The network has ordered full seasons of two new sitcoms, “Like Family” and “Run of the House,” as well as an additional three episodes each of “All About the Andersons” and “Steve Harvey’s Big Time,” Reuters News Agency reports.

“Amidst an unstable broadcast landscape, we are confident that continuing our commitment to all of our first-year comedies will pay dividends in the future,” Jordan Levin, WB co-chief executive, told Reuters.

The four pickups come after a good week for most of the WB’s comedies.

On Friday, “Like Family,” a multiethnic family sitcom starring Holly Robinson Peete, logged its best numbers in key demographics, including women 12 to 34 (2.6/10), teens (2.5/11) and female teens (3.8/16).

Also on Friday, the Anthony Anderson star vehicle, “The Andersons,” improved upon its previous ratings.

Meanwhile, “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” ranked third in most female demographics in its deadly Thursday 8 p.m. slot behind NBC’s “Friends” and CBS’ “Survivor: Pearl Islands.”

The network’s dramas met with mixed fates.

While the new drama “One Tree Hill” already had been renewed, the network’s revisionist “Tarzan” wasn’t so lucky.

Despite its hunky lead and the established charms of co-star Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”), the vine-swinging hero will be gone after the November sweeps.

Rich get richer

Associated Press

Gift baskets for American Music Awards participants will contain almost 150 items, including vacation getaways to Jamaica, karaoke machines and gift certificates for laser eye surgery.

The value of the gift baskets is estimated at $31,000, in honor of the show’s 31st anniversary, airing Sunday evening at 8 on ABC. They were assembled by Steve Stein of Hollywood Connection.

“I understand it’s going to take at least two oversized bags for each of them to carry away the ‘loot,’” executive producer Dick Clark said in a statement. “Hey, if it’s $31,000 now, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with when the show turns 50.”

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the live telecast. Sheryl Crow, Hilary Duff, Pink, Britney Spears, Kid Rock, Ashanti and Toby Keith are among those scheduled to perform.

Anchor away

Come January, CNBC’s “The News With Brian Williams” is losing its eponymous star.

Mr. Williams, slated to ascend to the anchor chair of “NBC Nightly News” in November 2004, is letting go of his cable chores, according to Reuters.

The handsome anchor began the nightly cable cast in 1996 on MSNBC.

The show changed over to CNBC last year.

Mr. Williams will spend the next year covering major stories, such as the upcoming presidential election, to prepare for the biggest role of his journalism career.

“We are heading into an incredibly busy news cycle in 2004 with the primary season, the conventions, the Olympics and the elections,” NBC News President Neal Shapiro told Reuters.

“With the transition at ‘Nightly’ on the horizon, it’s more important than ever that Brian is able to turn his full attention to the network for the coverage of these stories.”

CNBC will feel other changes in the weeks to come, as right-leaning comedian Dennis Miller joins the network for a new political talk show. CNBC will continue its nightly newscast in Mr. Williams’ absence with an anchor to be announced at a later date.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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