- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Midseason magic

Midseason replacement shows aren’t supposed to last much longer than the series they supplant, but a pair of new dramas are defying that belief.

NBC’s “Medium,” starring Patricia Arquette as a crime-solving psychic, joined Nielsen Media Research’s top 10 last week, while CBS’ “Numb3rs” drew respectable figures in its first Friday slot, Associated Press reports.

“Medium” beat a repeat of “CSI: Miami” which supported the network’s decision to extend its run to the end of next season. “Numb3rs” attracted 15.5 million even though viewership on Friday nights tends to be light.

The new shows aren’t at the level of ABC’s “Lost” or “Desperate Housewives” (which aired a repeat Sunday evening), but the new numbers are promising starts — especially for the hit-starved Peacock network.

The network competition has become even more heated than usual now that Fox, out of the race during the season’s first half, has climbed back thanks to “American Idol.” Fox won the week among viewers 18 to 49, the demographic that advertisers seek.

Among all viewers, CBS led with a 12.7 million average in prime time last week (8.4 rating, 13 share), NBC averaged 10.7 million viewers (7.1, 11), Fox had 10.4 million (6.2, 10), ABC 9.4 million (6.1, 10), the WB 3.6 million (2.4, 4), UPN 2.9 million (2.0, 3) and Pax TV 670,000 (0.5, 1).

A ratings point represents 1.096 million 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 Jan. 24 through 30, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 28.1 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 26.6 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 21.8 million; “ER,” NBC, 19.8 million; “CBS Sunday Movie: The Magic of Ordinary Days,” CBS, 18.7 million.

Goodbye a gain for CBS

David Letterman’s belated goodbye to his mentor, Johnny Carson, Monday night drew heady ratings for CBS’ “The Late Show,” AP reports.

The telecast drew a 6.0 rating as opposed to competitor “The Tonight Show’s” 4.9 mark, according to the Drudge Report.

What viewers will remember most about the telecast is that Mr. Letterman’s entire monologue was written by Mr. Carson weeks before his death. Mr. Letterman didn’t tell the audience that until he took his customary seat behind his “Late Show” desk.

Stan’s plan

Stan Lee helped Marvel Comics become the defining voice in the superhero business.

Now he’s battling Marvel for profits he says he’s due for creating all those memorable characters.

Like the superheroes that sprang from his imagination, he’s winning.

Tonight, Mr. Lee will discuss his ambivalent battle and its emotional toll with CBS correspondent Bob Simon on “60 Minutes Wednesday” at 8 p.m.

Mr. Lee created Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk while working for Marvel. Since then, each of the two Spider-Man movies alone has grossed about $800 million in worldwide ticket sales.

“My contract called for me getting a certain share of the profits [for] movies, television, licensing and so forth,” Mr. Lee says, “and I think when the contract was written nobody may have expected that those movies would be so successful.

“Don’t forget I’ve written about superheroes all my life. And they’re the good guys and they always do the right things, and I always thought our company is the good company and we always did the right thing … and suddenly I felt I wasn’t being treated well, and it really hurt.”

A federal judge agreed. The court awarded Mr. Lee 10 percent of the profits Marvel made on the Spider-Man movies, as well as the other movies based on his superheroes.

Mob rule at A&E;

TBS proved it could sanitize those naughty “Sex and the City” gals and still retain the show’s giddy ratings. Now A&E; is hoping the same holds true for its upcoming broadcasts of HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

Cable’s arts and entertainment channel secured the rebroadcast rights to the gangster drama Monday for the gaudy price of $2.5 million per episode. The network will begin airing the gangster show starting in fall 2006.

Much of the show’s ribald content won’t make it to air, but the move gives basic cable subscribers a chance to see what the fuss is all about.

That curiosity proved enough to power TBS’ “Sex” ratings, and we suspect mass interest will blossom once more over Tony Soprano and his crew — even if the whackings aren’t as grisly as when they first aired.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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