- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NFL boosts CBS

CBS regained its customary top spot in the ratings last week after relinquishing the crown to ABC the week before.

For the 16th time in 17 weeks, CBS was the most-watched network in prime time, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. Claiming half of the week’s top 10 entries, CBS also had the week’s top-ranked show: the AFC divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.

ABC, aided by such powerhouses as “Desperate Housewives” (the week’s No. 2 show), “Lost” (No. 3), “Grey’s Anatomy” (No. 5) and “Dancing With the Stars” (No. 7), was the second-place network for the week.

Fox could smile, too, though. Even without this week’s much-awaited return of its “American Idol” juggernaut, Fox was boosted by such fare as “House, M.D.” and Sunday’s two-hour kickoff of “24,” which helped lift that network to third place. NBC came in fourth.

For the week, CBS averaged 14.9 million viewers. ABC had 11.7 million viewers, Fox had 10.3 million, and NBC had 9.2 million. Univision had 4.3 million, the WB averaged 3.5 million, UPN had 2.9 million, and Pax TV had 500,000.

For the week of Jan. 9 through 15, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1. AFC Divisional Playoff: New England at Denver, CBS, 26.3 million; 2. “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 22.5 million; 3. “Lost,” ABC, 20.6 million; 4. “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 20.1 million; and 5. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 19.0 million.

More cuts at Fox

Fox is saying goodbye to a pair of veteran sitcoms, and the executioner’s ax appears ready to drop on a few more of the network’s shows.

“Malcolm in the Middle” and “That ‘70s Show,” two sitcoms with 15 seasons between them, will leave the air after their season finales in mid-May, the Miami Herald reports.

The latter’s demise appeared imminent when show stars Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace left to make feature films, but the cancellation of “Malcolm” (starring Frankie Muniz) took some by surprise given its still healthy ratings.

Fox programming chief Peter Liguori told the paper he didn’t want either show to “crawl to their ending.”

“We’d much prefer to have them go out with a loyal audience and with some strengths so that the shows have a fertile afterlife,” he said, referring to syndication and DVD sales.

The animated “King of the Hill” and “The Bernie Mac Show” could be next on the chopping block, while “Arrested Development” is headed for a Feb. 10 finale.

However, two other networks are negotiating to pick up “Development.” ABC is mulling over a single-season deal for 13 episodes, but the premium-cable channel Showtime is talking about a two-year commitment.

‘Sybil’ reborn

In 1976, Sally Field cast aside her Gidget roots with her Emmy-winning turn as the tortured “Sybil.”

Now Jessica Lange and Tammy Blanchard are starring in a remake of the show, based on Flora Rheta Schreiber’s best-selling book about the real-life treatment of a woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder, Reuters news agency reports.

Miss Blanchard will play the title character, while Miss Lange will reprise Joanne Woodward’s role as psychiatrist Dr. Cornelia Wilbur.

During their sessions, Sybil, who confides that she frequently loses her memory and can’t account for large blocks of time, slowly remembers the physical, emotional and sexual abuse she received as a child from her mentally disturbed mother. During 11 years of treatments, 16 distinct personalities — which Sybil created to cope with the abuse — emerge, each varying in age and appearance.

Production is set to begin Monday in Nova Scotia.

Miss Lange earned six Oscar nominations and has won twice — first in 1983 for “Tootsie” (best supporting actress) and in 1995 for “Blue Sky” (best actress).

The young Miss Blanchard, no acting slouch herself, won an Emmy for her breakthrough role as the young Judy Garland in ABC’s “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows” in 2001. She recently wrapped a role in the upcoming feature “The Good Shepherd,” which stars Robert De Niro.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff, Web and wire reports.

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