- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rise and shine for Fox

Fox is joining the morning rush hour.

The network yesterday announced plans for a live national morning show in January featuring entertainment and general-interest programming. The new show will be seen in the 9 to 10 a.m. slot, competing against ABC’s “Regis and Kelly” and the last hour of NBC’s “Today.”

Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy will share hosting duties. The pair currently host Fox News Channel’s “Dayside” and previously were weekend hosts on FNC’s “Fox and Friends.”

The as-yet-unnamed program will originate from New York and air on all owned-and-operated Fox affiliates. Fox Television Stations owns 35 stations in 26 markets, including WTTG (Channel 5) in the District, and is seen in nearly 45 percent of the nation’s television homes.

CW shows its hand

The brand-new CW Network announced its inaugural schedule, which includes its biggest hit, “America’s Next Top Model.”

The newly minted fifth broadcast network will target the 18-to-34 age demographic with a mix of programming from UPN and the WB, with both networks ceasing independent operations. “Model,” the reality show hosted and produced by supermodel Tyra Banks, returns for its seventh season Sept. 20 with a two-hour premiere beginning at 8 p.m.

Other premieres over the network’s two-week rollout period include “The Game,” a new comedy about the wives and girlfriends of NFL players, on Oct. 1 and “7th Heaven,” the longest-running family drama in television history, on Sept. 25. Another new series, “Runaway,” will follow “7th Heaven.” The new drama, from “Sex and the City” executive producer Darren Star, stars Donnie Wahlberg as a father on the run with his family after being falsely accused of a violent crime.

Toned-down ‘Brother’

India, land of the Kama Sutra, will air its own chaste celebrity version of the CBS reality show “Big Brother” with a strict ban on canoodling between the stars, its producer said yesterday.

The producers of the show — a worldwide hit and a rich vein of office gossip — are targeting athletes, television stars and Bollywood actors to make up the 12-member cast (divided equally between men and women) for the program’s debut later this year. They say their show will avoid some of the bawdier aspects of other “Big Brother” series, which sometimes includes frolicking in spas and even sex among the participants. (Versions of the show are seen in dozens of countries worldwide.)

“Explicit physical stuff is not acceptable to Indian audiences,” Rajesh Kamat, managing director of Endemol India, told Agence France-Presse. “They can just hold hands, I suppose — that would be deemed sex.”

Kissing, or lip locking as it is known in the Indian media, is never shown on television, even between married couples, although serial plot lines are full of emotional drama, infidelity and pregnancy out of wedlock.

“Big Brother” was first shown in the Netherlands in 1999, with the format based on 12 people living in a house and cut off from the world outside. Votes cast by TV viewers determine who should be ejected from the home. The show now airs in about 70 countries and made its American debut in 2000 on CBS.

Mr. Kamat says producers received a strong response from the 18-to-40-year-olds they approached about taking part in the show, but he declined to give names. He admitted they were unlikely to get the “A-plus” celebs of the Indian sports and entertainment industry. He says both Muslims and Hindus could be chosen — but religious differences will not be discussed on the show.

MLB wins ratings

Fox scored the top-rated prime-time show last week with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The event, won by the American League with two outs in the ninth inning, had 17 percent more viewers than last year, Associated Press reported yesterday, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. The telecast helped Fox win the week among viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

CBS still won among all viewers, primarily because its series do much better in reruns than those of its rivals. Of the 10 most popular reruns on the air last week, eight were on CBS. However, the network’s summer reality show “Rock Star: Supernova” appears headed toward a ratings black hole with just 5.2 million viewers.

For the week, CBS averaged slightly less than 7 million viewers in prime time. Fox and NBC were in a virtual tie with 6.5 million viewers, ABC had 5.1 million, UPN had 2 million and the WB had 1.9 million.

For the week of July 10 through 16, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) Major League Baseball All-Star Game: American vs. National, Fox, 14.42 million; 2) “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 11.14 million; 3) “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 10.61 million; 4) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 10.34 million; 5) “All-Star Game Preview,” Fox, 10.21 million.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from Web and wire reports.

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