- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

MJ farewell huge

Tuesday’s star-studded memorial service for Michael Jackson drew nearly 31 million television viewers in the U.S., Nielsen Co. said Wednesday.

But that’s only part of the story, Variety notes. A significant amount of viewing was also done on other platforms.

The Nielsen estimate reflects the 19 national broadcast and television networks in the U.S. showing the memorial, which aired from 1 to 4 p.m. By comparison, Princess Diana’s funeral, shown early on a Saturday in 1997 averaged 33.3 million viewers in the U.S., and the burial of President Reagan on a Friday night in 2004 averaged 35.1 million.

It’s impossible, of course, to accurately gauge total viewership for such an event, as millions watched online or in other venues not tracked by Nielsen, such as airports or bars. Also, large-scale viewings were held throughout the country in many places, including Mr. Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Ind., and outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York.

Millions of additional viewers watched online and overseas. Given the steep increase in Internet viewing each year, it’s likely that more U.S. viewers watched Mr. Jackson’s memorial overall than the broadcasts for President Reagan or Princess Diana, if all forms of viewing are tallied.

For instance, both MSNBC.com (19 million streams) and MSN.com (9.7 million) broke their all-time streaming video records with Tuesday’s event. ABC’s digital network delivered nearly 6 million streams, the Hollywood Reporter noted.

According to THR, memorial organizer AEG Live told the Los Angeles Times that it expects 1 billion people watched worldwide. (The BBC estimated 2.5 billion worldwide for Princess Diana.)

In the United Kingdom, more than 6 million people watched the live prime-time broadcasts of the Jackson service. The memorial was screened live on BBC 2, which attracted an average of 4 million viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures. The audience peaked at 5.2 million toward the end of the service, which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Channel Five’s coverage had an audience of 1.2 million between 6:30 and 9 p.m. in the UK. Sky News had an average audience of 897,000 for its coverage.

In Germany, more than 20 million people - almost a quarter of the country’s population of 83 million - saw the live transmission as well as other reports about the funeral on more than 10 TV stations, according to market research company Media Control.

On the main national terrestrial channels in France, about 10 million people watched coverage of the memorial, according to audience measurement company Mediametrie.

‘Party’ ends for Lynch

The “Party” is over for the ever-busy Jane Lynch.

Miss Lynch will be a regular on Fox’s new series “Glee” in the fall, and as a consequence she has had to part ways with the Starz comedy “Party Down,” notes Zap2it.com. Starz was hoping “Glee’s” schedule would let Miss Lynch moonlight a little, but that didn’t pan out.

“It looks like I can’t do the second season,” Miss Lynch tells Variety. “So I’m not happy about that at all. … but I’m in ‘Glee,’ so I’m thrilled about that.”

Miss Lynch - whose big-screen credits include “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” - missed the last few episodes of “Party Down’s” first season while filming the pilot for “Glee.” Jennifer Coolidge guest-starred in her place, but there’s no word yet on whether she could become a more permanent replacement for Miss Lynch.

The second season of “Party Down,” which follows a group of wannabe and never-really-were actors working as waiters for a Los Angeles catering company, is likely to premiere next spring.

Williams on HBO

Robin Williams is bringing his stand-up act back to HBO.

The cable network says a special of Mr. Williams performing in the District will air in December. The show is part of the 57-year-old actor-comedian’s “Weapons of Self-Destruction” tour, Associated Press reports.

The actor-comedian has done four solo specials on HBO. The most recent, which aired in 2002, received five Emmy nominations. Mr. Williams’ relationship with HBO dates to his appearance on a “Young Comedians” show in 1977, AP notes.

TWC upgrades

The Weather Channel Interactive launched the third major version of its mobile Web site Wednesday, featuring animated radar maps and enhanced current conditions pages.

Other new Weather.com features for mobile users include an option to customize the homepage to feature different kinds of weather content, such as airport delays, current conditions, severe weather alerts and school-day forecasts, reports Multichannel.com. The upgrade also will provide enhanced future forecasts available in hourly, 36-hour, 10-day, school-day and weekend reports; a green living section, which provides daily conservation tips; and photo galleries.

Existing features from the earlier version have been enhanced, including local video forecasts, local and national weather maps, severe weather alerts, and the Hurricane Central section.

The weather.com mobile site works with Apple’s iPhone and iTouch, Google Android G1 and G2, and Palm Pre devices.

Comedy to ‘Rock’

Comedy Central has acquired the off-network syndication rights to NBC’s “30 Rock.”

It will share the cable window of the Emmy-winning comedy series with WGN America for a combined license fee said to be in the range of $800,000 an episode, surpassing cable sales of other recent comedy offerings such as “The Office,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Entourage.”

The two cable networks will begin to run “30 Rock” in 2011, the Hollywood Reporter says.

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

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