- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dave boycott urged

Some conservatives and conservative groups are calling for a boycott of marketers who advertise on David Letterman’s late-night talk show on CBS because of the jokes he told about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her family last week, TVWeek.com reports.

One of the advertisers targeted was Hilton Hotel Corp.’s Embassy Suites, because its ads appeared on the page for “Late Show with David Letterman” at www.cbs.com.

According to TVWeek, conservative blogger Chris Wysocki says he contacted the Embassy Suites chain and received this e-mail reply:

“Thank you for your email. Embassy Suites is not a sponsor or advertiser of the David Letterman show. Several online ads appeared on a series of web sites, including cbs.com, among many others. These ads have since been taken down. The appearance of the ads on the CBS network web site does not suggest we condone or agree with Mr. Letterman’s views or comments.

“We sincerely appreciate your email.”

Big drop for Conan

Speaking of late-night TV, Mr. Letterman’s NBC rival, “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” as expected, had a huge sampling in his first week beginning June 1, says MediaWeek.com, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

But by week two, “The Tonight Show” was a considerably weaker story, down by a hefty 50 percent from its average high from one week earlier.

“Tonight” also dipped to second place behind CBS’ competing “Late Show with David Letterman,” Nielsen figures show.

“The Tonight Show” traditionally has beaten “The Late Show” in the overnights for the past 15 years.

TWC’s new lineup

The Weather Channel is set to roll out several long-form entertainment and weather-related reality series as part of its 2009-10 programming slate, Multichannel.com reports.

The network also will look to spruce up its live daily weather coverage with more in-depth analysis of the day’s weather-related stories and events in an effort to draw a bigger and broader audience to the network.

“It’s not your father’s Weather Channel,” says Geoffrey Darby, TWC’s executive vice president of programming.

In February, the network was acquired by NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group from Landmark Communications for about $3.5 billion.

Mr. Darby said TWC is not abandoning its traditional live weather coverage during the week, including local weather forecasts every eight minutes. Rather, he said, it hopes to enhance reports during the evening prime-time hours with more in-depth, news-oriented coverage in which weather is part of the story line.

Mr. Darby said the network will continue to get viewers ready for the day with comprehensive weather coverage during the 6 to 10 a.m. time period, which he dubbed the network’s prime time because it’s TWC’s most-watched time period. As previously reported, popular “Today” show weatherman Al Roker will host “Wake Up With Al,” an hourlong weekday program at 6 a.m., beginning July 20. The show will lead into “Your Weather Today,” hosted by Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes, the network said.

TWC also will undergo a new on-air look later this year that will keep viewers more informed on breaking national and local weather news, Mr. Darby says.

On the weekends, the cable channel plans to run its new long-form programming, including the return of its most-watched series “Storm Stories” during a Saturday-night block beginning later this year.

Other shows on the docket include “Cantore Stories,” featuring Weather Channel personality Jim Cantore as he visits the most extreme weather environments in America such as the Louisiana bayou and the Hawaiian rain forests; “Weatherproof,” in which weather testers put everyday items through extraordinary weather conditions; “America’s Worst Weather: Caught On Camera,” which showcases amateur camera footage of some of the most dangerous storms to hit the U.S.; and “Tornado Chasers,” which embeds viewers among scientists who chase major storms.

The network also will produce “Breaking News Specials” that will air within 10 days of major U.S. weather events to reveal how people prepared for and survived natural forces, TWC officials said.

President on ABC

ABC News will present a prime-time interview with President Barack Obama on health care issues next week, Associated Press reported Monday.

The special will air June 24 at 10 p.m., on two-hour tape delay. Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate the White House discussion with a live audience, also taking questions submitted by viewers. After a break for local news, the discussion will continue on “Nightline.”

That morning, Ms. Sawyer will interview Mr. Obama for “Good Morning America.” Mr. Gibson will anchor that evening’s edition of “World News” from the White House Blue Room.

Mr. Obama has been carefully doling out access to broadcast networks. NBC had big ratings with its inside peek at the White House. Mr. Obama also has given interviews to CBS’ “Face the Nation” and “60 Minutes.”

Fox delays fall start

For the first time in years, Fox will launch a fall lineup in mid- to late September alongside most of its rivals, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Though few Fox programs will debut during the official start-of-season “premiere week” beginning Sept. 21, most of the network’s prime-time programs will begin within a few days of the traditional launch period.

This is a change in strategy from recent years, THR notes. Fox kicked off its season on Sept. 1 last year. In 2007, Fox debuted one program on Aug. 30 and other shows in early September. In 2006, Fox’s lineup started rolling out Aug. 21.

This fall, Fox’s weeknight programming begins Sept. 16 with “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Glee.”

Several factors go into deciding a premiere schedule. One reason for the switch is that Fox expects fewer baseball pre-emptions in October. The network typically has debuted shows in late August or early September to give programs a longer head start before Major League Baseball coverage interrupted its lineup.

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

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