- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rudolph’s new friends

Think Christmas and you can’t help singing “Silver and Gold,” “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “We’re a Couple of Misfits” from the beloved “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” telecast.

CBS, which has annually broadcast the animated feature since its 1964 debut, is banking on that nostalgia by integrating its biggest stars into Rudolph’s world.

The network’s new ad campaign will feature animated caricatures of Marg Helgenberger (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”), Kevin James (“The King of Queens”), David Letterman (“The Late Show With David Letterman”), Jeff Probst (“Survivor”) and Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) frolicking alongside Rudolph, Sam the Snowman and the Abominable Snowmonster.

The Christmas classic will be broadcast Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. on the Tiffany network. The holiday promotional spots — which will use a similar stop-motion style of animation used to bring Rudolph and pals to life — will begin airing later this month.

‘Desperately’ happy

ABC is on a roll, claiming bragging rights to three of TV’s six most popular shows, so far, this month.

It’s not as unlikely as the Boston Red Sox breaking the Curse of the Bambino, but in industry circles it’s mighty close.

The network’s heady start to the all-important November sweeps began with “Desperate Housewives,” which continues as one of the most talked-about new series in years, Associated Press reports. About 24.6 million viewers tuned into Sunday’s telecast, setting another record for the series and making the drama the week’s second-most popular show behind CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

“Lost,” ABC’s other hit drama, is also riding high, drawing 18.7 million viewers to its Wednesday slot. But the real surprise was the network’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which attracted 20.2 million fans to an extended two-hour edition on Sunday evening.

Yet other weaknesses in its overall schedule still caused the alphabet network to finish third for the week behind CBS and NBC, Nielsen Media Research reports. However, among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers adore, ABC scored a razor-thin victory over those two rivals.

Three months ago, few in the TV business would have dreamed ABC would even be a factor in that race.

The “Desperate Housewives” phenomenon helped derail CBS’ “Dallas” reunion, which drew a disappointing 12.7 million viewers to the 9 p.m. slot.

Elsewhere, Fox finally rolled out a few new series, but to mixed results. Network suits were pleased with how “Nanny 911” put misbehaving children in line (8.6 million viewers), and that “The O.C.” (also with 8.6 million viewers) managed to survive in a suicidal 8 p.m. Thursday time slot.

“My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss,” on the other hand, was a big fat dud. “The Apprentice” knockoff was ranked No. 90 for the week, with a meager 4.4 million viewers.

For the week, CBS averaged 12.9 million viewers (8.5 rating, 13 share), NBC had 11.3 million (7.4, 12), ABC 11 million (7.1, 11), Fox 6.3 million (4.1, 6), the WB 4.1 million (2.7, 4), UPN 3.6 million (2.5, 4) and Pax TV 660,000 (0.4, 1).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Nov. 1 through 7, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 30.6 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 24.6 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 21.8 million; “Survivor: Vanuatu,” CBS, 20.2 million; “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC, 20.2 million.

Real-time ‘ER’

Tonight, when NBC announces in that authoritative voice, “Don’t miss a very special ‘ER,’” they’ll actually mean it.

This evening’s episode features Ray Liotta in a story told in real time. The “Goodfellas” star plays a patient who complains of a stomachache, but his condition deteriorates quickly after being admitted.

Now in its 11th season, the venerable hospital drama continues to draw healthy ratings for NBC, but the show’s dominance in its 10 p.m. Thursday time slot is a thing of the past. CBS’ “Without a Trace” now routinely squeaks by “ER” in the Nielsen ratings.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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