- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not ready for switch

Nielsen Media Research has estimated that more than 13 million households are ill-prepared for the digital TV conversion, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

Those households include more younger people than older and more black viewers than white or Asian. The demographic hit hardest is Hispanic, which uses over-the-air TV more than any other group.

On Feb. 18, 2009, all TV broadcasters will be required to shut off their analog signal and broadcast solely on the digital spectrum. That leaves millions of over-the-air viewers with a choice: Buy a digital converter box or face losing TV. Beyond the households that rely solely on over-the-air TV, Nielsen estimated that 6 million households have at least one TV that needs an analog signal even if other sets in the house might be connected to cable or satellite.

The best-prepared market is New York, which has 3 percent of its households relying on over-the-air signals. Ill-prepared markets include St. Louis; Milwaukee; Albuquerque, N.M.; Houston; Salt Lake City; and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

‘Idol,’ IPod overkill

It’s official: It’s an “American Idol” world.

Apple has become a signature sponsor for “American Idol,” acquiring exclusive audio and video performance download rights to Fox’s megahit singing competition, Variety reports.

Effective immediately, “Idol” downloads will be available only on Apple’s ITunes store. Also, ITunes will sponsor online streaming of contestant performances on the official “American Idol” Web site, where it also will have a substantial branded presence.

But wait … there’s more.

On the show, Apple’s IPod will become the official digital music player for “Idol,” while the IPhone becomes the show’s official handset. (AT&T;, the IPhone’s exclusive service provider, already is an “Idol” signature sponsor, Variety notes.)

Apple brands also will be integrated into the show — get ready to see “Idol” judge Simon Cowell subtly checking his IPhone during the broadcast.

An “Idol” special section has been created on the ITunes Store. Starting this week, music performances from the top 24 “Idol” semifinalists will be sold for 99 cents per person.

Then, starting March 11, video of the top 12 finalist performances will be sold for $1.99.

Also, starting immediately, ITunes users can preorder performances, which will be downloaded the day after the show airs, Variety notes.

Elvis’ ex to dance

Priscilla Presley, Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin are among the dozen celebrities who will compete on the next season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” the network announced Monday night.

At 62, Miss Presley is the show’s oldest contestant to date.

The other contestants are TV personality Adam Carolla, actors Shannon Elizabeth and Steve Guttenberg, tennis pro Monica Seles, magician Penn Jillette, R&B; singer Mario, NFL defensive end Jason Taylor, “Ugly Betty” co-star Cristian de la Fuente and Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur.

The series returns March 17.

An animated Madea

The Tyler Perry empire knows no bounds.

After conquering stage, screen and DVD, his feisty Madea character will now become a cartoon, Variety reports.

According to the trade publication, Mr. Perry’s production company has partnered with Exodus Film Group to produce an animated series based on his signature character, an opinionated, larger-than-life grandmother. Mr. Perry has played Madea in features such as “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea’s Family Reunion” and the upcoming “Meet the Browns.”

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

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