- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

‘Leno’ shifts format

When NBC announced the format of “The Jay Leno Show,” the network pointed out that it would be turning the structure from “The Tonight Show” on its head. While it would start with a monologue, the network said Mr. Leno would save the signature comedy bits for the end of the episode in order to provide the strongest news lead-in for its local affiliates.

Indeed, since its launch Sept. 14, Mr. Leno has presented “Headlines” - his signature “Tonight Show” routine - every Monday night - as the last segment of the show.

However, on Monday, the show finally broke from that mold and returned to a format much closer to that of Mr. Leno’s “Tonight Show,” notes BroadcastingCable.com. As usual, the program opened with his monologue, followed by a commercial break. Then, just as on “Tonight,” Mr. Leno presented “Headlines” less than 15 minutes into the program. That was followed by another commercial break, before welcoming Kathy Griffin as his first guest.

So, the first half-hour or so of Monday’s “Jay Leno Show” was nearly identical to the first half-hour of Mr. Leno’s “Tonight Show.”

Now, says an NBC spokesman, “Headlines” will again air toward the front of the show next Monday. Other episodes will feature a retooled format as well, with certain comedy bits and interviews appearing earlier or later than they normally would.

Big drop for ‘V’

After last week’s record-setting premiere with 14.3 million viewers, Tuesday’s second installment of ABC’s “V” was seen by 10.6 million viewers - down 29 percent from last week. The decline marked the largest fall from a premiere for a scripted show this season, the Hollywood Reporter noted Wednesday.

The drop put “V” in second place in the 8 p.m. slot, with CBS’ “NCIS” (20.2 million viewers) resuming control of the time period. The swing is similar to when ABC debuted “FlashForward” against CBS’ time-period champion “Survivor” at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, momentarily upsetting the balance - before “Survivor” popped up again.

CBS won Tuesday night’s ratings crown, with “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA” (16.2 million) and “The Good Wife” (12.9 million) all on par with last week’s data.

After “V,” second-place ABC aired “Dancing With the Stars” results show (15.5 million), featuring Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle as a guest. At 10 p.m., a special, “In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: All Access Nashville” - with 9.6 million viewers - improved 26 percent over last week’s broadcast of “The Forgotten” in the same time slot.

U.S. watches more TV

Americans watched an average of four hours and 49 minutes of television a day during the 2008-09 TV season, a record high, reports Agence France-Presse, citing data from the Nielsen Co.

In a blog post, Nielsen said the average amount of time Americans spent in front of the TV set during the September-to-September period was up four minutes from the previous year and 20 percent higher than 10 years ago.

Nielsen attributed the increased television consumption to several factors: more TV sets in the home, more channels and content selection, and greater use of digital video recorders.

Lewis goes to ‘Rio!’

Jason Lewis, who played Smith Jerrod - the hunky boyfriend of Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones character on “Sex and the City” - has been cast as the lead of a new TV pilot, “Rio!”

Mr. Jerrod, 38, will play an international detective who goes to Brazil to investigate a crime. He decides to stay after he falls in love with the city, its music, its beaches and nightlife, says DenverPost.com, citing a report from the New York Post.

Filming of “Rio!” - described as part “Miami Vice” and “Magnum, P.I.” - starts next month in Rio.

They’re in the money

Simon Cowell - the acerbic “American Idol” judge, creator of “America’s Got Talent” and record producer - is the top-earning man on prime-time American television with an estimated haul of $75 million, says the Hollywood Reporter, citing a report released Tuesday by Forbes.com.

According to Forbes, Mr. Cowell beat out “The Apprentice” host Donald Trump ($50 million) and “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest ($38 million), based on estimated pre-tax earnings from June 1, 2008 to June 1, 2009.

Most of the top earners have several entertainment-related ventures, Forbes said.

Mr. Cowell has his own record label - which has signed several vocalists including industry newcomers Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle. Additionally, there are also his duties as a judge on “Idol,” the most watched show on U.S. TV for the past seven years.

Apart from “The Apprentice,” Mr. Trump lends his name to products ranging from neckties to vodka and also reaps fees from speeches and books. And the Georgia-born Mr. Seacrest, 34, has a Los Angeles morning radio show and developed the E! reality series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” as well as his role as “Idol” host.

Rounding out the top five are “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen ($21 million) and “The Office” star Steve Carell ($20 million).

The remainder of the Top 10 are: “Deal or No Deal” host Howie Mandel, $15 million; “24” star Kiefer Sutherland, $13 million; comedian and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” host Jeff Foxworthy, $11 million; “House” star Hugh Laurie, $10 million; and “CSI: Miami” star David Caruso, $9 million.

‘Hank’ yanked

It’s the end of the road for “Hank.”

ABC has canceled the freshman comedy starring Kelsey Grammer. The show is filming episode 10 and will stop production after wrapping that episode, the Hollywood Reporter says. The network, which has aired five half-hour segments of the sitcom, “has no immediate plans” to run the remaining five segments, THR says.

For the next few weeks, the network will air a combination of comedy repeats and holiday specials in “Hank’s” Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot. (ABC already preempted the freshman comedy once for a Charlie Brown Halloween special last month.)

“Hank” was mostly bashed by critics and has underperformed in the ratings in its 8 p.m. slot, kicking off the network’s two-hour comedy block. It joins another ABC freshman casualty, the Wednesday night drama “Eastwick,” which was recently canned after 13 episodes.

ABC has already picked up its other three new comedies, “Modern Family,” “Cougar Town” and “The Middle,” for a full season, THR notes.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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