- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Williams’ strong start

The passing of the anchor’s baton from NBC News’ veteran Tom Brokaw to Brian Williams went off without a hitch.

In his debut on “NBC Nightly News,” Mr. Williams handily beat ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’ lame duck Dan Rather in last week’s ratings during his first three days as anchor, Associated Press reports.

Each night, Mr. Williams’ lead over the second-place Mr. Jennings was at least 1.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Mr. Brokaw retired from “The Nightly News” after Wednesday’s broadcast. Mr. Williams, who often filled in during Mr. Brokaw’s absences, took over Thursday. It was the first turnover among anchors at a network evening news program in two decades.

Mr. Williams drew 11.7 million viewers on his first broadcast Dec. 2 (Mr. Brokaw signed off Dec. 1 with 15.4 million), compared to 9.3 million for “World News Tonight” and 7.4 million for “CBS Evening News.”

Until his retirement, Mr. Brokaw’s broadcast averaged 1.1 million more viewers than Mr. Jennings’ this year. However, he had a strong victory lap: NBC’s 1.5 million advantage during the November ratings sweeps was its biggest margin of victory in at least 17 years.

In the prime-time world, CBS ended the November sweeps on a dominant note, with several Tiffany shows, including “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “CSI: Miami” and “The King of Queens” scoring season highs in the ratings.

ABC’s adaptation of Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” drew the largest audience for a made-for-TV film in more than two years, attracting 18.6 million viewers on Sunday, Nielsen said.

For the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 24.7 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 22.7 million; “Survivor: Vanuatu,” CBS, 19.5 million; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 18.7 million; Movie: “Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” ABC, 18.6 million.

Family TV honored

Viewers won’t have to worry about any tawdry cross-promotions or wardrobe malfunctions on the WB tonight.

The network broadcasts the sixth annual Family Television Awards this evening, honoring television’s best family friendly fare.

Lori Loughlin of the WB’s “Summerland” hosts the show, which starts at 9 p.m. (The ceremony was held last week in Beverly Hills.)

The awards are the brainchild of the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of 40-plus advertisers concerned about the kind of programming seen across the TV dial.

Editing 101

Ever wonder what happens between a film’s first take and the movie that ends up at your local theater?

Cable’s Encore channel unravels the mystery this weekend with “The Cutting Edge — The Magic of Movie Editing.”

The special, which airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, examines the role editing plays in the final product. The program starts with cinematic pioneers such as Sergei Eisenstein and D.W. Griffith before interviewing modern filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The directors tell how they use editing techniques to reshape scenes and clarify emotional moments. Highlights include Academy Award-winning editor Walter Murch slicing and dicing scenes from director Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” from the original dailies.

Riverses return

Hollywood’s holiday from sartorial sniping is coming to a close.

The wicked witches of the “who are you wearing?” crowd, Joan and Melissa Rivers, return next month to stalk the red carpet, Associated Press reports.

The mother-daughter team, shut out of this year’s Emmy Awards because of a contractual tangle, will return starting with next month’s Golden Globe Awards.

Star Jones Reynolds, a co-host of ABC’s “The View” and a bridezilla for the ages, replaced the Rivers team on E! Entertainment Television after they took their fashion commentary to the TV Guide Channel earlier this year.

The duo had been at E! since 1996.

Mrs. Jones Reynolds, who married banker Al Reynolds last month in a highly publicized ceremony, first stepped on the carpet for E! at the Emmys in September. An exclusive agreement between E! and the TV academy in charge of the Emmys prevented the Rivers duo from covering Emmy arrivals for the TV Guide Channel.

Now they’ll all be on the red carpet, chatting with nominees and guests as they arrive at the Beverly Hilton for the Golden Globes Jan. 16.

“It’s been a very messy couple of months,” Joan Rivers said Tuesday, adding that “I just want to get back to work.”

Joan Rivers also said she expects to be on hand for all the Hollywood awards in 2005. An agreement for the Emmys has been reached, the Riverses said, although they were unfamiliar with the details.

Will Hollywood’s stars be more carefully dressed knowing they’ll again be facing the sharp-tongued Rivers women?

“They’d better be,” Melissa Rivers said.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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