- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Viewers ‘Camp’ out

Trashy talk shows have broadcast programs about misbehaved children for years, so you wonder why the networks took so long to tap that discipline-deprived demographic.

Those days apparently have ended with “Brat Camp,” the new ABC reality series that scored big numbers in last week’s ratings derby, Associated Press reports.

The show, which follows troubled teens who change their ways while attending a wilderness camp, drew 10.4 million viewers, making it one of only four programs last week to top the 10 million mark.

By contrast, the more admirable youngsters competing for scholarships on ABC’s “The Scholar” seem far less interesting to TV viewers. That show was seen by 3.5 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Elsewhere on the dial, CBS had high hopes for its Mark Burnett-produced contest to name a new singer for the rock band INXS. Despite multiple showings, the series had a slow start; its most popular episode last week attracted 6.1 million viewers.

Yet with television in its summer doldrums, CBS still managed to win the week with an average of 6.7 million viewers per show. NBC had 6.2 million and ABC had 6 million — as did Fox, which won among the young advertiser-friendly demographic of viewers between 18 and 49. UPN had 2.5 million, the WB 1.9 million and Pax TV 670,000.

For the week of July 11 through 17, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 12.9 million; Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Fox, 12.3 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 11.7 million; “Brat Camp,” ABC, 10.4 million; and “NCIS,” CBS, 9.3 million.

Blue Collar’ hustle

The comics of the blue collar pack — Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy — certainly have their work cut out for them.

All four have scored a multiproject development and production deal with Comedy Central through its management and production company, Parallel Entertainment, Reuters News Agency reports.

In addition, Nick at Nite has acquired the rights to “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” a sitcom that ran on ABC and NBC in the mid-1990s.

The Comedy Central pact calls for the creation of a second sequel to the comedy concert film, “Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie,” as well as a summer-themed special featuring the “Blue” crew.

The deal also provides an outlet for other comedians represented by Parallel, which is led by “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” creator J.P. Williams. Three stand-up specials will be produced under the Parallel deal for up-and-coming comics, as well as a series pilot based on a concept starring Dave Allen (“Freaks and Geeks”) and David Koechner (“Saturday Night Live”).

The success of the “Blue Collar” franchise has helped the network ease the pain of losing “Chappelle’s Show.”

The first sequel, “Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again,” and the special, “The Comedy Central Roast of Jeff Foxworthy,” became the second- and third-highest-rated programs ever on the network during the first quarter, both surpassing 6 million viewers.

All 41 episodes of “Foxworthy,” a show that never found its niche during its original run, will begin airing Saturdays on Nick at Nite from 10 p.m. to midnight this week.

Out of Africa

The Africa Channel is nearly ready for its American close-up.

The network, an independent outlet showcasing soaps, films, music and reality TV and news shows from Africa, will begin airing on Cox Communications cable systems on its digital tier in September, Reuters reports.

“Our network will serve an important cultural need while providing diverse, entertaining programing that demystifies Africa to the American television audience,” Africa Channel CEO James Makawa told Reuters.

The channel’s flagship series will include “Carte Blanche Africa,” a weekly investigative program in the spirit of “60 Minutes”; the reality shows “Big Brother Africa” and “All You Need Is Love”; the award-winning soaps “Generations” and “Isidingo”; and special events like “M-Net’s Face of Africa,” an annual modeling competition.

The Africa Channel has been funded by a number of sports, entertainment and political figures, including Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and NBA players Dikembe Mutombo and Theo Ratliff.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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