- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

CNN draws a ‘Crowd’

All-news CNN is running a weeklong series examining the impact our nation has on the planet’s air, land, water and food supplies.

“A Crowded Nation,” airing at 6 p.m. this week as part of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” reports tonight on how we can protect our air while still meeting the nation’s power needs. Tomorrow’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” focuses on clean drinking water.

Ratings home run

A pair of legendary sports curses have been a blessing to Fox.

After swinging and missing more times than they care to count, executives at Fox’s sports division have hit a home run with this year’s baseball playoffs, Reuters News Agency reports.

Fox is enjoying a sharp ratings upswing this year after fans tuned in for four exciting divisional contests and have stayed for league championships that feature two of baseball’s most-beloved perennial underdogs, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

The strong matchups help Fox, which has had to delay the premieres of its new prime-time shows every fall until after the playoffs, putting it a month behind other broadcasters.

Ratings Thursday night for the second game of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Red Sox were up 40 percent over the same night a year ago, which was the second game of the National League championship series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

Last Tuesday night’s game 1 of the National League series between the Cubs and Florida Marlins was one of Fox’s highest-rated ever, despite strong competition from the California recall election and the late comedian John Ritter’s final television series appearance on ABC.

Those results were a stark contrast to last year, when the ratings for the two league series were down 7 percent from the previous year, and the World Series drew its lowest recorded ratings.

“I think it is the matchups, and I think that in past years, the baseball numbers, considering the competition, have been pretty good,” Ed Goren, Fox Sports’ president and executive producer, told Reuters. “This year’s numbers are better than good, obviously.”

Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd. paid $2.5 billion in 2000 for six years of Major League Baseball playoff rights, and after some ups and downs, Mr. Goren said this year is paying off.

“We had a division series that out-rated the NBA Finals, we have a League Championship Series … that will produce numbers comparable to last year’s World Series,” he said. “Obviously, the potential is there for our … most watched World Series ever.”

Strong World Series ratings could help boost Fox’s overall numbers for the season. Last season it finished second to NBC in the advertiser-friendly demographic of adults ages 18 to 49.

The Skinny on Welles

The mercurial career of Orson Welles is cast in a new light tonight with the debut of a documentary featuring never-before-seen footage.

“Orson Welles: The One-Man Band,” airing at 10 p.m. on Showtime, follows the famous director from his start with the Mercury Theatre through his 1984 D.W. Griffith Award, the highest honor the Directors Guild of America can bestow.

Narrated by director Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show”), “The One-Man Band” includes rare clips from Mr. Welles’ unreleased works like “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Other Side of the Wind.”

CBS inks Latino sitcom

Comedians Jackie Guerra and Freddy Soto have teamed up to star in a sibling comedy for CBS, Reuters reports.

The two have inked a one-year development deal with the network for a half-hour based on their idea, which is targeted for fall 2004. The as-yet-untitled project will star Miss Guerra as an outspoken, socially conscious woman and Mr. Soto as her happy-go-lucky brother.

“We have been friends both personally and professionally for some time and realized that we had formed a bond like brothers and sisters,” Miss Guerra told Reuters.

She and Mr. Soto are meeting with writers to discuss ways to turn their idea into a sitcom.

“The idea to develop a comedy about siblings simply made sense to us; who fights, loves, screams or showers guilt better than us Latinos?” Mr. Soto said.

Miss Guerra, the first Latina ever to top line her own network sitcom, the WB Network’s “First Time Out,” has a role in Gregory Nava’s drama series for PBS, “American Family,” and recently hosted the Style Network’s show “You’re Invited.”

Mr. Soto, a 14-year stand-up veteran, most recently headlined with Carlos Mencia and Pablo Francisco “The Three Amigos,” a national tour filmed as a stand-up concert film by Miramax Films.

His TV credits include the UPN pilot “Freddy,” based on his routine, and appearances in comedy specials on Comedy Central and Showtime.

Whoopi meets Dubya

The makers of “Whoopi” promised the sitcom would tackle the days’ headlines, and tonight’s episode certainly delivers.

President Bush, played by Steve Bridges, stops by notoriously liberal Mavis’ (Miss Goldberg) hotel on tonight’s new episode. Don’t expect fair and balanced punch lines. Miss Goldberg is arguably as left-leaning as her character.

As sitcom luck would have it, Mavis soon finds herself at a GOP function, where her drinking, smoking and big mouth get her in trouble with the Secret Service.

“Whoopi,” which debuted to strong ratings, airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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