- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

Hits and misses

ABC, which has been looking for a hit comedy for years, may be on the right track this fall after “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” opened to strong numbers on Wednesday, Variety reports.

CBS and Fox also had reason to smile. The network’s “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” combined for another winning night to start the CBS season, while Fox’s comedy “Glee” held up well despite heavily promoted premieres on the other networks.

NBC really struggled, however, and the domino effect of its “Jay Leno Show” scheduling was evident. The Peacock finished fourth among the broadcast networks for a third night in a row.

ABC’s critical favorite “Modern Family” opened at 9 p.m. with 12.60 million viewers overall. Results show the ensemble sitcom built on its lead-in from a special “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Modern Family” was followed by “Cougar Town” starring Courteney Cox, which built on “Family’s” numbers to become television’s top-rated new comedy since ABC’s “Samantha Who” two years ago.

ABC also launched a new drama Wednesday, as “Eastwick” delivered a second-place finish at 10 p.m. Although it fell off from its lead-in and lost audience in its second half-hour, it did improve on the early-season average of “Dirty Sexy Money” in the time slot a year ago.

This week, ABC will roll out two more comedies — “Hank” and “The Middle” in the 8 p.m. time slot — as part of its risky bet to place five new shows on Wednesday night.

Powered by “Criminal Minds,” CBS’ lineup of returning series elbowed past ABC to win the night in the all-important demographic of viewers between 18 and 49, while also prevailing among adults 25 to 54 and total viewers.

“Criminal Minds” tied with “Cougar Town” as the night’s No. 1 show in viewers between 18 and 49 and was also Wednesday’s most-watched program overall.

Fox hung tough opposite the premieres with its third-week segments of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Glee,” with both shows winning among adults 18 to 34.

NBC finished fourth among the broadcasters for a third straight night to start the season, with the medical drama “Mercy” opening meekly and “Law and Order: SVU” kicking off its 11th season deep in fourth place in its tough new 9 p.m. slot.

Both shows would be airing in later hours if it were not for the network’s decision to strip “Jay Leno” weeknights at 10 p.m. “SVU” was the show most affected by the “Leno” prime-time arrival, as it was forced to move out of its longtime home of Tuesday at 10 p.m., where it was dominant. Now “SVU” has to go head-to-head with CBS’ potent “Criminal Minds.”

Also Wednesday, “Jay Leno” delivered its second-lowest scores to date, Variety notes.

Over and out

In TV land each fall, the bell tolls first for someone — and this year, that someone is Mischa Barton.

She and the rest of the comely cast of “The Beautiful Life” are out of a job, with the CW opting to cancel the drama after just two episodes, the network confirmed to E! News Friday.

This marks the first (but, certainly, not the last) cancellation of the just-begun 2009-10 television season, E! News noted.

The Ashton Kutcher-produced show, about the trials and tribulations of the modeling world, was plagued with production problems from the start, starting with Miss Barton’s hospitalization for emotional exhaustion and post-op pain in July.

To add insult to injury, a mere 1.5 million people tuned in for its Sept. 16 premiere, and only 1 million caught Wednesday’s episode.

Also shelved: A&E’s drama, “The Cleaner,” starring Benjamin Bratt.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cable network has opted to not renew the rehab series.

The news comes on the heels of the cancellation of A&E’s only other scripted program, the Patrick Swayze drama “The Beast” — and, interestingly, the Emmy win of A&E’s “Intervention,” which is like an unscripted version of “The Cleaner.”

The show’s second — and now final — season concluded earlier this month.

Baby makes 3

Following a great ratings start on the first three nights of the season, CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves got more good news Thursday.

Julie Chen, his wife, host of “The Early Show” and “Big Brother,” gave birth to the couple’s first child, son Charlie Moonves, in Los Angeles.

Mother and child were doing well, CBS told the Hollywood Reporter.

Bon Jovi on cable

Showtime has picked up a documentary of the rock band Bon Jovi that was filmed during the group’s 2008 tour.

According to TVWeek.com, the program, “When We Were Beautiful,” will premiere on the premium cable network Oct. 24.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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