- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘Docs,’ ‘Wilkos’ gain

“The Doctors” ended the March sweep ratings period with a positive prognosis, while “The Steve Wilkos Show” captured the highest year-to-year gain in first-run syndication during the ratings period.

According to TVWeek.com, “Doctors,” in its first season, is up 46 percent for the March sweep versus its premiere week in September.

The top three daily rookie syndication shows made gains from their premiere weeks, including a 7 percent rise for NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” and “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” which increased by 25 percent.

The rest of the field either held steady from premiere week or dropped, with the largest decline coming from “Judge Karen,” off 18 percent.

Disney-ABC’s weekend show “Legend of the Seeker” dropped 38 percent from its premiere week, TVWeek reported.

Veteran syndicated shows generally posted year-to-year declines in this rare March sweep period. Usually set in February, the winter sweep period was pushed into March in order to accommodate the original Feb. 17 deadline for the digital-television transition (since moved to June 12).

While the sweeps help stations set local advertising rates, this year’s March sweep period will more than likely complicate matters. Year-to-year comparisons become difficult because it’s unfair to compare this year’s sweep with last year’s normally scheduled February sweep.

Court and game shows posted across the genre declines, including double-digit tumbles for “Judge Joe Brown” (off 12 percent), “The People’s Court” (off 17 percent), “Judge Alex” (off 15 percent) and “Family Feud” (off 21 percent).

The only show to stave off a decline was “Judge David Young.”

Among talk shows, “Steve Wilkos” posted the highest year-to-year gain of the sweep in first-run daily syndication with a 22 percent uptick. “The Jerry Springer Show” and “The Tyra Banks Show” tied with “Wilkos,” with “Springer” off 8 percent. “Tyra” held steady from last year.

Leading the talk show pack, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” saw a 10 percent increase, followed by “Dr. Phil” with a 3.5 increase.

“Live With Regis and Kelly” slipped 4 percent, while “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” posted a 10 percent gain.

In the entertainment-newsmagazine genre, “TMZ” increased 5 percent, while “Extra” moved up 6 percent.

The rest of the pack dipped slightly, save for CBS’ “The Insider,” which faced large pre-emptions due to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament through March. “Insider” fell 14 percent, TVWeek notes.

O keeps Tori, hubby

Oxygen has announced a multiplatform programming deal with Tori Spelling and her husband, Dean McDermott, says TVWeek.com.

Under the deal, announced Wednesday during Oxygen’s upfront presentation in New York, the couple will produce a couples makeover show for the network and develop a made-for-television movie, in addition to a fourth season of “Tori & Dean.”

They also are doing a “Mommywood” Web series, based on Miss Spelling’s book of the same name, which will appear on Oxygen.com, Hulu.com and iVillage.com.

Oxygen also said it would be launching a second night of original programming when its competition series “Dance Your Ass Off” begins this summer. The network has signed a marketing partnership with Crunch gym around the show.

Meanwhile, two new series are in development: “Keshia and Kaseem,” focusing on Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy from “The Cosby Show”) and her live-in boyfriend; and “Celeb-U-Moms,” which follows the personal and professional lives of a group of Hollywood moms.

A show for Suleman

Nadya Suleman is heading to TV - but not necessarily to a TV near you.

Miss Suleman, also known as Octo-Mom, tells lifeandstylemag.com that she and her 14 children will be doing a show. However, it won’t be the typical reality docudrama a la “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” Zap2it.com reports.

“Yes, it is official,” Miss Suleman, 33, tells the celebrity site. “What I’m doing with this TV show is basically creating documentaries about the lives of my children. It’s going to be an ongoing thing, and it will follow them from now until they are 18. It’s being done by Eyeworks; they’re in the U.K. It will air in the U.K., and then we’ll see if the U.S. is interested.”

Miss Suleman claims that her children’s privacy will be respected since filming will only take place six times during the year, so that the footage is more about milestones and not her family’s daily life.

Short takes

• NBC has renewed “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and will bring the veteran crime drama back for an 11th season, says the Hollywood Reporter. However, the two stars of the show, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, still have no deals to return. The two, who regularly negotiate their contracts together, only started talks with the network last week. After a tough back-and-forth in 2007, the Emmy-winning Miss Hargitay and Mr. Meloni inked rich two-year deals that brought their paychecks up to about $350,000 an episode.

• Elisabeth Hasselbeck says she feels fine after trying to hail a cab from a Manhattan sidewalk and getting hit by a bike instead. The pregnant co-host of ABC’s “The View” joked about the hit-and-run incident on Wednesday’s show, noting that whatever the speeding courier was carrying, it must have been delivered on time. Then, she posted an update on the Twitter Web site to announce: “The belly is OK,” Associated Press reports.

• Grammy-winning artist Adele will be hitting New York’s pavements in an upcoming episode of “Ugly Betty,” Zap2it.com reports. The British soul singer will make a guest appearance as herself for a May episode of “Ugly Betty,” ABC announced Tuesday. In the episode, Betty (America Ferrera), frenemy Marc (Michael Urie) and her boyfriend Matt (Daniel Eric Gold) must complete a YETI assignment in which they oversee a photo shoot. Somehow, everything turns into an impromptu wedding - we just don’t know who will be taking the plunge.

• A federal judge has rejected “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch’s request to live in Argentina after he’s released from prison on a tax-evasion conviction, Associated Press reports. Mr. Hatch is imprisoned in West Virginia for failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won on the hit CBS reality show’s premiere season in 2000. He is scheduled to be released next month and had asked a judge’s permission to serve his period of supervised release in Argentina. His request was denied. Mr. Hatch said he is married to an Argentine national whose family is unable to travel to the United States.

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

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