- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some deserting Dave

Nearly one-third of Americans say they are less likely to watch “Late Show” host David Letterman following the funnyman’s admission he has had affairs with women who work on his CBS show, according to a poll released Tuesday.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 29 percent of those polled said they are less likely to watch the show after Mr. Letterman admitted on Thursday’s show that he was the target of an extortion plot connected to an affair he had with staffer Stephanie Birkitt.

Five percent said Mr. Letterman’s disclosure of sexual misbehavior makes them more likely to watch the show, the New York Post reported Tuesday. Sixty-three percent said it has no impact on their decision to watch the show. Forty-two percent of adults still have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Mr. Letterman, but that’s down eight points from May, while 46 percent view him unfavorably, the poll findings show.

Fans waiting outside Mr. Letterman’s studio Tuesday seemed to be forgiving.

“It’s unfortunate, but Dave’s handled it just how he should have. He came out clean, told everybody what he thought. He’s a good guy, and we’re all people,” said Cliff Crumpton, an audience member from Texas.

On Monday night, Mr. Letterman handled the scandal with a mixture of somber and humorous moments. After running onto the set to huge applause, and making jokes about hate mail, Mr. Letterman mentioned how chilly it was inside his house over the weekend.

Mr. Letterman’s apologies to his wife and staff meant another big night in the ratings for the late-night talk-show host. The Nielsen Co. didn’t immediately have an estimate Tuesday of the size of Mr. Letterman’s Monday audience. However, the company said the overnight rating was slightly less than last Thursday’s show, when 5.8 million people tuned in for Mr. Letterman’s initial confession.

More Beck fallout

Upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose said it was pulling its advertisements from Fox News in the United Kingdom after customers complained about the cable news channel’s Glenn Beck program.

The popular and controversial talk-show host is already the target of a boycott campaign in the United States after he accused President Obama of harboring “a deep-seated hatred for white people.”

Waitrose, known for its upmarket fare and focus on organic foods, said in a statement it was responding to customer concerns. The company also said the move was not politically motivated, Associated Press reports.

The wide coverage afforded to Mr. Beck’s tirade against the president and the subsequent boycott campaign also has been noticed in Britain - where Fox owner Rupert Murdoch controls a powerful news-and-broadcasting empire.

Color of Change, the group that has lobbied advertisers to steer clear of Mr. Beck’s show, claims about 80 U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have deserted the pugnacious television host.

Last month the Independent newspaper quoted James Rucker, Color of Change’s executive director, as urging British companies to put similar pressure on Fox in the U.K., where it is broadcast by British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC - a satellite TV service 39 percent owned by Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp.

Although most U.S. companies that have dropped Mr. Beck’s program still continue to advertise on other segments of Fox News, Waitrose spokesman James Armstrong said the company was pulling out of the channel as a whole.

He declined to say how much money was involved in the ad deal, calling the information commercially sensitive. Sky Broadcasting, which looks after Fox News advertising sales in Britain, did not provide a figure either, AP said.

Sky reaches about 9 million homes in the U.K. and Ireland. Fox News offered no immediate comment on the Waitrose announcement. In the past, the channel has said it has not been affected by the boycott.

‘A.I.’ keeps giving

“American Idol” is bringing back “Idol Gives Back.”

After a yearlong hiatus, the charitable special will return for a third installment April 21, airing during the top-seven Wednesday results show, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

“This is our opportunity to reach out and support the people of America and around the world who need our compassion and generosity to improve or even save their lives,” “Idol” creator and 19 Entertainment CEO Simon Fuller said.

Next year’s special will benefit returning charities Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More and Save the Children, as well as the United Nations Foundation.

“Idol Gives Back” has raised more than $140 million thus far, which is being distributed by the Idol Gives Back Foundation.

“Idol” returns for its new season in January.

CBS still going strong

The opposite of an overnight success, Mark Harmon’s military crime-solving drama “NCIS” has ascended to the position of television’s most popular scripted show in its seventh season on the air.

Both weeks of this new TV season, it was the most-watched program, according to the Nielsen Co. Last week’s audience of 21.4 million viewers was its largest ever.

During its first season in 2003-04, “NCIS” was only a moderate success, averaging 11.8 million viewers per week and ranking 26th among all programs. It took off last season, after more viewers were exposed to the series through reruns that began airing on cable’s USA.

“NCIS” has even given this season’s new spinoff, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” a running start. The new series, starring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J, follows the mother ship on Tuesday night and was the second most popular drama of the week, Nielsen said.

Another new CBS show, Julianne Margulies’ “The Good Wife,” is starting off strongly. It was No. 14 in last week’s rankings.

For troubled NBC, the drama “Law & Order: SVU,” at No. 40 was the network’s most-watched scripted show of the week, Nielsen said.

Fans might also wish to move fast if they want to check out a handful of other shows that may not be around much longer if their ratings don’t improve. Among them: ABC’s “Shark Tank,” NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” “Community” and “Heroes.”

For the week, CBS averaged 11.3 million viewers. ABC had 9.6 million viewers and NBC had 7.8 million. Fox had 7.6 million, but it managed to win among the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49-year-old demographic. The CW had 2.2 million viewers, and ION Television had 650,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led the way with 3.8 million viewers, Telemundo had 1.1 million, TeleFutura had 830,000 and Azteca had 190,000.

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.7 million, and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.7 million viewers.

For the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “NCIS,” CBS, 21.37 million; 2) NFL Football: San Diego at Pittsburgh, NBC, 18.42 million; 3) “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 17.4 million; 4)”Dancing With the Stars,” 17.03 million; 5) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 15.94 million; 6) “The Mentalist,” CBS, 15.75 million; 7) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 15.69 million; 8) “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,” NBC, 14.84 million; 9) “House,” Fox, 14.71 million; and 10) “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 14.64 million.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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