- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Caruso’s global reach

Maybe David Caruso knew what he was doing after all.

The combustible actor famously quit “NYPD Blue” after just one season in 1994 to pursue a big-screen career. A few consecutive flops dashed those dreams, but today he’s back and is one of the biggest television stars in the world.

His crime drama “CSI: Miami” is a ratings smash from Berlin to Bogota, from Paris to Pretoria, Reuters news agency reports. Outside the United States, “CSI: Miami” tops “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and even the original “CSI” to rank as the most-watched American series around the world.

“In a funny way, we are more resonant in the foreign markets than we are domestically,” Mr. Caruso says in an interview at the MIPTV market, where producers sell their wares to foreign TV stations. “That’s why I think it is very important to come and connect with the journalists here and viewers here because our relationship with the larger landscape is here.”

Indeed. According to Nielsen Media Research, “CSI: Miami” ranks No. 12 so far this season among American viewers in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic (“American Idol” takes the top two spots, followed by “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “CSI.”) The drama is in its fourth season.

Germany, Europe’s largest TV market, provides a typical example of how the “CSI: Miami” machine has conquered foreign lands. The show premiered to record ratings on cable channel Vox in 2004 before being nabbed by Vox parent channel, and market leader, RTL. “CSI: Miami” is the No. 1 series in Germany.

Mr. Caruso, 50, says he’s no longer chasing a dream of a film career — and adds that he would be happy doing “CSI: Miami” in five or 10 years’ time.

“I think I found my niche,” he says. “You say, ‘Well, you’ll be on the show for another five years.’ I don’t see it that way. I see it like, ‘Well, I get a chance to do my job for as long as they let me on this show: the daily pursuit of the scene.’ And that’s what I got into this business for in the first place.”

Bonds’ trying times

Barry Bonds’ new reality show is getting a shot of drama for all the wrong reasons.

“Bonds on Bonds,” the ESPN2 show pitched as a peek at the San Francisco Giant slugger’s pursuit of the home-run-total record, is becoming a prism for accusations about his reported steroid use, Associated Press reports.

The show’s first installment, seen Tuesday evening at 8, didn’t shy away from the drug reports. Viewers also saw footage of fans booing, a syringe being thrown at the Giants outfielder and announcers discussing the steroid reports on opening day in San Diego.

“If it makes them happy to go out of their way to destroy me or whatever they want to try to do, go right ahead. It doesn’t bother me,” Bonds said. “You can’t hurt me anymore than you’ve already hurt me. You can’t hurt my family anymore than you’ve already hurt them.”

Yet Bonds stayed the course, continuing his commitment to the show and proving he could be the ultimate reality-show attraction — cross, confessional and teary at times.

“They can take me down. I don’t really care,” he said. “I never cared. Baseball, if they want to take me down, go right ahead; take it. Anyone who ever knows me knows … I don’t care. But there’s so many other people who depend on me to stay strong.”

Bonds, who has faced questions about steroid use for years, is under new pressure this year following last month’s release of “Game of Shadows,” a book by San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams that probes rumors about his reported use of steroids for at least five seasons.

“Bonds on Bonds” also showed Bonds away from the ballpark — cleaning up the mess from a broken pipe from his fish tank in Arizona, often cursing and reading an article about the 10 most hated athletes in sports. Upon review, he wondered why he finished second on the list, behind NFL bad boy Terrell Owens.

“How did he get in front of me?” Bonds asked.

Bonds entered the season with 708 home runs, seven shy of passing Babe Ruth for second place all-time and 48 away from breaking Hank Aaron’s career record.

A fond farewell

This weekend’s installment of the “The West Wing” promises to test the emotions of both the show’s key players and the audience.

It’s Election Day, and as the votes are being tallied, presidential candidate Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) must deal with the loss of his running mate, Leo McGarry (John Spencer). The plot wrinkle came to pass after Mr. Spencer’s death late last year. The Emmy-winning actor died of a heart attack in December.

“The West Wing,” which is wrapping its seventh and final season this year, airs Sunday evening at 8.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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