Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Trump: ‘You’re hired’

Real estate mogul Donald Trump made reality television his newest playground with NBC’s smash hit “The Apprentice.”

Now the man we love to hear say “You’re fired” will have something new to say tonight: “You’re hired.”

The live, two-hour “Apprentice” finale will tell us whether 32-year-old Bill Rancic or 29-year-old Kwame Jackson takes a position in the Donald’s empire.

Season one’s final episode airs at 9 p.m. on the Peacock network.

During a telephone press conference to drum up interest in the finale — as if that’s necessary at this point — Mr. Trump and executive producer Mark Burnett recalled the origin of the show’s signature line.

“When we went into that room originally,” Mr. Trump says, “the words just came out of my mouth somewhat by accident.”

Mr. Burnett recalls wincing at the expression.

“I said, ‘Let’s say, “I’m gonna let you go,”’ but he said, ‘That’s worse. It’s not honest,’” Mr. Burnett recalls.

“It obviously hit a nerve,” Mr. Trump says. “I do use those words in the real world if someone’s doing bad, like stealing … but I wonder if the show would be as successful [without it].”

It’s all academic now. “The Apprentice” is a smash, with several more editions sure to follow.

In true Trump fashion, though, he’s looking at the bigger picture beyond reality TV, and the continued success of his real estate empire.

“I love building buildings. That’s what I’m the best at,” he says. “This is a time-consuming thing. At some point, I do wanna ride into the sunset.”

Jackson lifts ‘SNL’

Janet Jackson proved over the weekend that she could laugh at her Super Bowl fiasco — and viewers, in turn, were only too eager to watch.

Preliminary Nielsen Media Research ratings showed Miss Jackson’s guest-host appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” helped that show to its best performance since Al Gore headlined the late-Saturday-evening program in December 2002, according to Associated Press.

Peter Jennings’ three-hour special, “Jesus and Paul — the Word and the Witness,” also drew a strong response, attracting 11.2 million viewers last Monday.

CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 11 million viewers (7.2 rating, 12 share). NBC was second with 10.2 million viewers but won among the prized 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

Fox had 8.6 million viewers (5.3, 9), ABC 7.7 million (5.0, 9), the WB and UPN both had 2.7 million (The WB: 1.9, 3; UPN: 1.8, 3) and Pax TV 1 million (0.7, 1).

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 April 5 through 11, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 23.5 million; “The Apprentice,” NBC, 22 million; “Survivor: All-Stars,” CBS, 20.8 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 20.6 million; and “ER,” NBC, 20 million.

Experts debate quake

Seismic experts are shaking their heads over the inaccuracies at the core of a new NBC miniseries, AP reports.

In the network’s “10.5,” massive quakes topple the Golden Gate Bridge, send the Pacific Ocean sloshing over Los Angeles, swallow trucks and chase trains. A band of heroes tries to stem the deadly tide by fusing the San Andreas Fault with a series of atomic explosions.

Seismologists who have seen the miniseries expressed both alarm and mirth at the finished product.

A magnitude-10.5 earthquake would be 8,000 times more powerful than the 6.7 Northridge quake that killed 72 persons in Southern California in 1994.

The faults that underlie California would not be capable of generating such a huge temblor, experts noted. That size quake is theoretically possible, but the largest earthquake in recorded history was a magnitude 9.5 off Chile in 1960.

“The production is blatantly inconsistent with everything we know about earthquakes,” said Lucy Jones, the scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey office in Pasadena.

Howard Braunstein, executive producer of the miniseries, acknowledged that the film is meant as “fun entertainment” and plays fast and loose with the facts.

The four-hour, special-effects-laden miniseries stars Kim Delaney and Beau Bridges, and is set to air May 2 and 3.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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