- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Family’ finds niche

Fox brought back the raucous “Family Guy” in part to snare more youthful viewers.

Mission accomplished, as the snarky animated sitcom helped the network’s Sunday lineup achieve its best ratings performance on that night in more than a year, according to Associated Press.

AP, citing data released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research, reports the show was seen by slightly fewer than 12 million viewers Sunday but ranked in Nielsen’s top 10 among viewers aged 18 to 49.

Fox’s season average of 5.26 million young viewers a week leads CBS’ 5.17 million viewers. ABC ranks third on this front, while NBC finds itself in fourth place.

Fox may be hard to beat with the conclusion of “American Idol” in the next few weeks, but the normally stable CBS has been doing some unusual shuffling to grab an edge.

The network has scheduled a prime-time interview between TV psychologist Phil McGraw and entertainment show host Pat O’Brien, who has spent the past few months in rehab. “A Dr. Phil Prime Time Special: Behind the Headlines” will air tonight in the 8 p.m. slot normally reserved for the Wednesday edition of “60 Minutes.”

Meanwhile, CBS also has moved episodes of its popular “CSI” franchise into its problematic Friday lineup, AP notes.

A win among this demographic would be hugely important financially for CBS, for years derided as a network with an older viewership that is less valuable to advertisers.

Last week CBS averaged 13 million viewers per show, Fox had 10.1 million, ABC 9.3 million, NBC 9.1 million, the WB 3.7 million, UPN 3.4 million and Pax TV 610,000.

For the week of April 25 through May 1, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 25.7 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 25.5 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 24.4 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 23.7 million; and “Survivor: Palau,” CBS, 21.2 million.

ABC gets gamey

ABC News is hoping to snag the attention of devoted gamers.

The network will soon offer its content to PlayStation Portable users, making it the platform’s first news and information provider, Reuters News Agency reports. Consumers who own Sony’s PSP entertainment device can download selected programs to view on the hand-held unit.

“Today, 99 percent of people with PSPs are using it to play the fantastic games,” said Bernie Gershon, Digital Media Group senior vice president and general manager for ABC News. “But our view is that wherever there is a screen, there is a potential viewer of ABC News.”

Among the new venture’s first offerings: the technology program “Ahead of the Curve,” music reviews and other short-form content drawn from the network’s all-digital ABC News Now.

A farewell to ‘Raymond’

TV Land has no intention of trying to compete with the last original episode of CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

The channel won’t go dark May 16, the night of the sitcom’s final bow, but it will offer a curious tribute to the show, Associated Press reports. The cable channel, which is devoted to airing reruns of classic series, will show a room filled with 210 guys named Raymond when the show’s final episode airs.

Each will wear a T-shirt with the title of one of the “Raymond” episodes, and they will stand, one at a time, to introduce themselves and their episode titles.

“‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ is poised to take its place as one of television’s most memorable family sitcoms,” network President Larry Jones told AP. “TV Land wants to be sure that no viewers will accidentally miss this historic television event.”

The “Raymond” gimmick is similar to two earlier TV Land send-offs to departing sitcoms. It went off the air in 1998 to salute the “Seinfeld” finale. Last year, it aired pictures of a room filled with network staffers purportedly watching the final episode of “Friends” while periodically telling viewers to do the same.

Jackson’s new ”Fro’

Samuel L. Jackson is joining forces with Spike TV to produce “Afro Samurai,” a new show featuring an animated hero of the same name, which he will voice.

Created with the help of Fuji Television, the show will fuse Japanese anime with hip-hop sensibilities. Its first five episodes will premiere next year.

“Afro Samurai” follows a warrior on a mission to avenge the wrongful death of his father.

Elsewhere, Mr. Jackson will reprise his role as Mace Windu in the final “Star Wars” feature, “Star Wars — Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which opens May 19.

Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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