- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

CBS, ‘CSI’ still No. 1

Two weeks into a new TV season, and the juggling of schedules has already begun — except at quick-starting ABC and CBS.

CBS remained the nation’s most-watched network, and ABC led among the 18-to-49-year-old group most valuable to advertisers. It’s the first time ABC has won the first two weeks of the season among this demographic in 11 years, Associated Press reported yesterday, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

The premiere of ABC’s “Commander in Chief” with Geena Davis was the only new program in Nielsen’s top 20, and even that came with an asterisk: The show’s audience skewed old, not something the network wants.

NBC said Friday’s airing of the new fertility-clinic drama, “Inconceivable,” was being yanked in favor of a “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” rerun. It’s not officially a cancellation, but given that just 4.5 million people saw “Inconceivable” last week, its prospects are dim.

Meanwhile, the season premiere of “Without a Trace” on CBS drew 21 million viewers and only reinforced NBC’s problems on Thursday night. It soundly beat NBC’s long-running hit “ER,” which had 14.4 million viewers.

There was more bad news for NBC. Between “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Smallville,” UPN and the WB had nearly 12 million viewers in a Thursday night time slot once dominated by NBC. “Joey” had barely 7.5 million viewers, AP reports.

For the week of Sept. 26 through Oct. 3, CBS averaged 12.6 million viewers, ABC had 11.1 million, NBC 9.1 million and Fox 7.5 million; the WB and UPN finished in a dead heat with 3.5 million; and Pax TV had 510,000.

The top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 28 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 27.1 million; “Lost,” ABC, 23.1 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 21 million; and “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 17.6 million.

Look who’s cooking

Three of the District’s top chefs will battle it out today for a chance to appear on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.”

Ris Lacoste of 1789, Morou Ouattara of Signatures and Cesare Lanfranconi of Ristorante Tosca will be on the spot as District Mayor Anthony Williams welcomes the cable show to the nation’s capital.

Each chef will prepare the same dish using a secret ingredient. A team of judges will deem which tastes best, and the winner will compete as a chef challenger on the show.

“Iron Chef America” is based on a hit Japanese series. It allows master chefs to compete against a team of culinary pros such as Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto.

Sister act

At first glance, the WB’s “Related” — billed by the network as a new “comedic drama” — looks like another “Sex and the City.” The four attractive women in the New York-set show gab incessantly about men, work woes and other dilemmas.

Here, though, the Sorelli sisters (Jennifer Esposito, Laura Breckenridge, Lizzy Caplan and Kiele Sanchez) aren’t obsessed with meaningless sex and Manhattan hot spots. Meddling in one another’s lives (for all the right reasons) and initiating “phone chains” — in which one sister calls another sister, who in turn calls another, and so on — appear to be their chief concerns.

Instead of “Sex’s” selfish moxie, “Related” bursts with sisterly love and the bonds that twist and turn whenever they meet.

In tonight’s series debut (titled “Moving Out, Moving In, Moving On” and penned by “Sex and the City” writer Liz Tuccillo), each sister is dealing with a monumental problem.

Smart, responsible Ginnie (Miss Esposito, of “Taxi” fame) just found out she’s pregnant but can’t muster the courage to tell her husband. Young Rose (Miss Breckenridge) has changed majors from pre-med to experimental theater and fears a family backlash of epic proportions. Marjee (Miss Caplan of “Mean Girls”) is trying to stage a pug adoption fundraiser but keeps running into snags. Then, out of the blue, poor Anne (Miss Sanchez) is dumped by her beau of six years.

Further complicating matters is the impending marriage of the sisters’ father to a vapid woman who uses the word “super” ad nauseam.

“Related’s” first episode, airing at 9 p.m., ends on too treacly a note. On the positive side, however, the camaraderie generated among the leads already has the comfortable feel of a show in its third or fourth season.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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