- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

‘Idol’ trumps Obama

Fox’s “American Idol” scored prime time’s biggest numbers Tuesday as audiences seemed to tire of round-the-clock inaugural coverage, Variety reports.

Sure, ABC did solid numbers for its coverage of the inaugural balls, but news specials on CBS and NBC were not competitive with entertainment programs in their time periods.

According to preliminary nationals for Nielsen, “Idol” dominated Tuesday’s opening hour with 22.4 million viewers overall. It was down sharply from last week’s two-hour premiere, as expected, but also came in more than 15 percent below the show’s second Tuesday episode of a year ago. Still, it provided a strong lead-in for the rookie drama “Fringe,” which led or tied for the 9 p.m. time slot in the key young-adult demographics.

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” was on the rise with 10.2 million viewers overall, spiking sharply in its second hour after “Idol” went off the air, Variety notes.

As for the inauguration specials, ABC averaged 12.6 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m. for “Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration,” peaking from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. with about 14 million viewers overall. It stood as the night’s second-most-watched program, behind “Idol,” and gave the Alphabet network its best performance on the night since the “Dancing With the Stars” finale in November.

On the other hand, the news wasn’t as good at CBS for Katie Couric’s hourlong special “Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama” at 9 p.m. It attracted 6.9 million viewers overall, placing the show in fourth place for the hour. The network fared better in the evening’s other hourlong repeats of “NCIS” at 8 p.m. (11.7 million viewers overall) and “The Mentalist” at 10 (10.5 million viewers overall).

Also at 10 p.m.: NBC’s special “Inauguration of Barack Obama” ran third (6.2 million viewers overall) despite the healthy lead-in from “Biggest Loser.”

Nielsen on Wednesday was expected to release a number for the numerous broadcast and cable networks that carried Mr. Obama’s inauguration. Given the unusually high interest in the new administration, the figure is expected to tower above the previous high for the swearing-in of a president — 41.8 million for Ronald Reagan in 1981, when the event was carried on just ABC, CBS and NBC - Variety said.

In other ratings news

The first of the final 10 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” premiered on Sci Fi Jan. 16, generating double-digit gains over the season-four average. Fans tuned in to see if the planet the crew discovered was, in fact, Earth and to learn the identity of the final Cylon.

According to Broadcastingcable.com, the episode, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” drew slightly more than 1.3 million viewers in the 18-to-34 demographic and more than 2.1 million total viewers. Those numbers are up 23 percent in household rating and total viewers, 21 percent in the 18-to-49 demographic and 15 percent among those 25 to 54.

Not surprisingly, Sci Fi was the most-watched cable network in the 10 p.m. hour among men 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, B&C; says.

Show for a stylist?

Michelle Obama’s hairstylist has landed a development deal to star in a reality show, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Former Chicagoan Johnny Wright — who styled the first lady’s coif for the Democratic National Convention, her upcoming appearance on the cover of Vogue magazine and other occasions — has signed a deal with 44 Blue, which produces such reality shows as Style Network’s “Split Ends” and A&E;’s “L.A. Gang Unit.”

Stephanie Drachkovitch, executive vice president of the production company, says she discovered Mr. Wright while searching for a reality host.

“There aren’t many people of color doing makeover and beauty shows,” she says. “We figured there’s got to be somebody out there with a mainstream clientele, but [who] brings a different point of view.”

Enter Mr. Wright, who moved to Los Angeles recently and also has worked with Vivica A. Fox, Rebecca Gayheart, Lauren London and “Sex and the City” creator Candace Bushnell, among others. Miss Drachkovitch says she was impressed with the hairstylist’s personality before she knew his Obama connection.

“We fell in love with him before we knew,” she says. “There’s a lot of hairstylists out there who do celebrities, but they can’t center a show.”

The well-timed Obama connection doesn’t hurt, either.

“She has certainly emerged as a style icon,” Miss Drachkovitch says of the first lady. “She has everyday beauty mixed with elegance. It certainly raises [Mr. Wright’s] profile.”

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

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