- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CBS No. 1, ABC gains

Viewers flocked to old favorites “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Desperate Housewives” and sampled new fare “My Name is Earl” and “Everybody Hates Chris” in the first week of television’s new season.

It began where the old season left off: ABC is hot, NBC is not, and CBS remains the nation’s most popular network.

Intense interest in “Desperate Housewives” (28.4 million viewers) and “Lost” (23.5 million) led ABC to its best first-week performance in five years. It was the first time since 1995 that ABC won the first week among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic most important to advertisers, reports Associated Press, citing data released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research.

CBS is still the top network but, like NBC, its household ratings were down 7 percent compared to the first week last year. CBS’ Monday lineup lost potency with the end of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” while “Survivor” hasn’t started out as strong as in years past.

NBC, the fourth-most popular network last season, finished third last week. That’s because Fox doesn’t start “American Idol” until January.

Fox is doing better than last year at this time because, unlike in 2004, many of their new series have already debuted. But with “Head Cases” (3.1 million viewers), the network has the distinction of the year’s first canceled series.

It was also a tough week for Martha Stewart. Not only did her NBC version of “The Apprentice” debut to a tiny audience of a little more than 7 million, but fewer than 7.5 million wanted to see Sunday’s CBS movie dramatization “Martha Behind Bars.”

On the other hand, UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” had a terrific first week, beating NBC’s “Joey” head-to-head with 7.8 million viewers — numbers almost unheard of for UPN.

For the week, CBS averaged 12.9 million viewers, ABC had 12.3 million, NBC 9.9 million, Fox 6.5 million, UPN 4.2 million, the WB 3.3 million and Pax TV 560,000.

For the week of Sept. 19 through 25, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 28.4 million; “Lost,” ABC, 23.5 million; “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 19.6 million; and “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 19.2 million.

Out of character

After years of playing heroines — including the red-white-and-blue (and gold)-clad “Wonder Woman” on television in the 1970s — Lynda Carter was tickled pink to play a villainous con artist on last night’s episode of NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” She revisits the role on tonight’s “Law & Order,” airing at 10.

“I’ve been working for so long, it’s nice to be doing a role in which there are so many dimensions. She’s got quite a character arc,” Miss Carter tells Zap2it.com. “That’s always wonderful, instead of just playing that same old heroine that I always play — save the day, save the day. I’m not saving the day.”

The episodes focus on Lorraine Dillon (Miss Carter) and April Troost (Estella Warren), a con team that manages to evade the clutches of Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) on “L&O;: SVU”— only to face prosecutors McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Borgia (Annie Parisse) on “L&O.;”

D is for divorce

Comedian Kathy Griffin, star of Bravo’s “My Life On the D-List,” has filed for divorce after 4 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences, Associated Press reports.

Miss Griffin, 43, married Matt Moline in Los Angeles in February 2001. The couple have no children.

The divorce papers were filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Together again

While some partnerships are ending, others are beginning anew.

Oscar winners Robert Redford and Paul Newman are reuniting for a segment of “Iconoclasts,” a six-episode interview series debuting this fall on Mr. Redford’s Sundance Channel, notes Zap2it.com. Mr. Redford’s interview with his “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting” co-star will explore Mr. Newman’s career, philanthropy and his life outside Hollywood.

Premiering in November, “Iconoclasts” will feature celebrities interviewing and profiling those they admire. In the first episode, actor Samuel L. Jackson visits and plays golf with basketball legend Bill Russell.

Other pairings include designer Tom Ford interviewing artist Jeff Koons and Oscar winner Renee Zellweger talking with CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

The Newman-Redford hour is scheduled to air Dec. 22.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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