- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ready to rumble

Far too often, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” traffics in canned banter and prepackaged gags.

Not tonight.

Mr. Leno welcomes both Ann Coulter and George Carlin to his couch (11:35 p.m. on NBC), and verbal fireworks are a distinct possibility.

Miss Coulter, the acid-tongued conservative with a new book, and Mr. Carlin, the quick-witted, far-left comedian who’s in the voice cast for the animated film hit “Cars,” were booked at separate times for the NBC late-nighter, according to Associated Press.

However, the duo’s meeting could produce serious political bickering on a show that tries to toe the bipartisan line with its nightly monologue.

Miss Coulter, author of “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” has drawn fire for attacking the four New Jersey widows who pushed for an independent commission to investigate the September 11 World Trade Center attacks in which their husbands died. In her book, she accuses the women of “reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

An appearance by Miss Coulter on another NBC show, “Today,” led to a prickly exchange with host Matt Lauer over her comments on the widows.

Switching sides

A member of the Minutemen group and a family of illegal immigrants will step into each other’s shoes as part of the FX reality series “30 Days,” Associated Press reports.

The series, from Academy Award-nominated “Super Size Me” documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, is scheduled to air Aug. 2. It will feature a man identified only as Frank — a member of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, an anti-illegal-immigration group — who lived during filming with a Mexican family in the U.S. illegally.

Frank shared a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with seven immigrants and accompanied the family to a pro-immigrant rally (held in March) that drew hundreds of thousands to downtown Los Angeles.

The network remained within the law during production, said John Landgraf, president of FX Networks.

“We suggested the family seek outside legal counsel,” Mr. Landgraf told the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Participants were not paid, and the family’s real surname was not used, he said.

Mr. Spurlock’s series debuts July 26 with an episode in which the filmmaker tests life inside the Henrico County Jail in Richmond.

Sweet ‘Deal’ for NBC

The NBA and NHL finals are nice and all, but when it comes to fun and games on television, Howie Mandel and his suitcase-carrying sweeties rule.

The season finale of “Deal or No Deal” was seen by 18.2 million people last week, easily the most popular show on prime-time television, AP reported yesterday, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

That included the first two games of the NBA finals, in which the Dallas Mavericks took the upper hand against the Miami Heat. The two games had an average of 12 million viewers, up 13 percent over last year’s San Antonio-Detroit series.

Meanwhile, several of Univision’s tele-novelas proved more popular than NBC’s telecast of the third game of the Stanley Cup finals in hockey. The face-off between Carolina and Edmonton was seen by just 2.5 million people last Saturday.

NBC’s summer drama “Windfall” ranked No. 13 last week for its premiere episode, with 9 million viewers. The Peacock finished the week in the top spot among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic sought by advertisers. With the exception of two weeks during the Winter Olympics, that hasn’t happened for NBC in a year, Nielsen said.

Among all viewers, CBS led the way with an average of 8.2 million, NBC had 7.3 million, Fox had 6 million, and ABC had 5.8 million. Following were the WB with 2.2 million, UPN with 2.1 million and the I network (formerly Pax TV) with 590,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3.1 million viewers, Telemundo had 840,000, and TeleFutura had 580,000.

For the week of June 5 through 11, the top fiive shows, their networks and viewerships were: “Deal or No Deal” (Monday), NBC, 18.2 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 12.4 million; NBA Finals Game 2: Miami vs. Dallas, ABC, 12.4 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 11.9 million; and NBA Finals Game 1: Miami vs. Dallas, ABC, 11.51 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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