- - Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fans of CW shows such as “The Vampire Diaries” no longer have to wait three days after broadcast to watch them online. Now, the wait time will be, at most, eight hours before the CW streams full episodes on CWTV.com and its mobile apps.

Shows will stream with the same number of ads they had on TV.

According to the Associated Press, the move is designed to cut into the popularity of pirated streams.

The network, jointly owned by CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., said 20 percent of online streams of its shows were unauthorized. Half of those were offered within three days of the original broadcast.

The shortened wait times have been available since last year to paying subscribers of Hulu Plus, which streams the shows with fewer ads.

“I do think we can make a cut into piracy,” said Rick Haskins, the CW’s executive vice president of marketing and digital programs. “It’s going to take a while for the word to get out.”

Previously, the CW had kept its shows off the Internet for 75 hours to encourage people to watch on TV. That allowed the network to get more credit with Nielsen, which measures TV audience sizes. Nielsen ratings are crucial in determining how much advertisers pay for commercial spots.

But the CW found that putting as many commercials online as it did on TV didn’t cause people to click away. It measures online viewers with Google Inc.’s DoubleClick service.

Mr. Haskins said the CW can benefit if it can entice online viewers to switch from watching on illegal sites to its own.

‘MythBusters’ exhibition opens in Chicago museum

Who gets wetter, someone walking in the rain or running? Is it really possible to hang from a cliff by your fingers until help arrives like they do in the movies? And is Superman the only one who is faster than a speeding bullet?

Those are questions the Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” has asked for years, and now, anybody who’s wondered how long it takes to put on a superhero outfit in a phone booth - don’t forget the cape - can answer them for themselves at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

“MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition,” opened Thursday, marking the first time the show has taken such questions on the road. The Chicago exhibition, which runs through Sept. 3, is the first of a planned national tour that will include stops at several other U.S. cities, the Associated Press reports.

“This has both the science and also a sense of humor, what we’ve been doing for a decade,” Adam Savage, one of the show’s hosts, said before the exhibition opened.

Just like on the show, the exhibit is a kind of scientific bait and switch. It starts with something visitors have seen in the movies or on TV or that they can recall from their own experiences, such as dishes crashing to the floor when the tablecloth is yanked.

“That’s the hook,” said Jamie Hyneman, also a “MythBusters” co-host. “That gets them involved and before they know what happens they’ve actually learned something or been lured into thinking carefully about what’s going on.”

The exhibit consists of about a dozen stations mixed in with props familiar to viewers, such as the actual casket Mr. Hyneman entered for a segment on being buried alive.

Movies and television and just plain storytelling play a big role in the exhibit. There is, for example, a place to build small houses out of progressively heavier blocks - one made of marble, another of wood and another of foam to represent the bricks, sticks and straw used by the three little pigs - to see if all that effort by the last little pig was worth it.

The exhibit also includes a live show that asks whether it’s possible to dodge a bullet - or at least a paint ball. Those selected from the audience will be asked to come onstage, put on a protective coat and hold a clear plastic shield in front of them to see if they can jump out of the way before a paint ball traveling 250 feet per second, or 175 mph, hits the shield with a splat.

One thing missing from the exhibit that is a big part of the show are explosions. Mr. Hyneman said there was just no way in an enclosed space to safely blow stuff up.

Even without such a display, the show’s stars hope the exhibit will bust what they say is the biggest myth of all: Science is just for nerds.

Disqualification, elimination reduce ‘Idol’ field to 10

It wasn’t such a sweet day for Shannon Magrane on “American Idol.” The 16-year-old vocalist from Tampa, Fla., known for her soaring voice and towering over “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, was eliminated from the Fox singing competition Thursday.

Shannon was dismissed after reprising her rendition of Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day,” according to the Associated Press.

“It feels so good standing on this stage,” she said after her elimination.

Shannon was revealed to be among the bottom three vote-getters with 28-year-old teacher Elise Testone, of Charleston, S.C., and 26-year-old disc jockey Erika Van Pelt, of South Kingstown, R.I. The judges, who lauded Miss Testone’s soulful performance of Tina Turner’s 1983 edition of “Let’s Stay Together,” were noticeably dissatisfied with the viewers’ picks.

“I just feel that the great performances should be rewarded,” Jennifer Lopez said.

This week’s elimination of Shannon and the disqualification of Jermaine Jones, the 25-year-old vocal instructor from Pine Hill, N.J., who was booted for not revealing he had outstanding arrest warrants in New Jersey, leaves 10 finalists in the competition.

They will return to the stage to perform for viewer votes Wednesday.

New Jersey Police Lt. Christopher Jones said the case against Mr. Jones “wasn’t big enough” to merit going after the singer in California.

Police in Gloucester Township confirmed that Mr. Jones was arrested twice in the past year. They said he gave police a false name. He failed to appear in court, and two warrants were issued.Not everyone was thrilled with the producers’ treatment of Mr. Jones.

Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey L. Nash said there was no excuse for breaking the law, but he thought the show could have handled the incident better.

“For the producers of the billion-dollar show to expose, embarrass and interrogate a young man without an attorney in front of 40 million viewers was an outrage,” Mr. Nash said. “In the future, they should do background checks before they start counting their money and playing Judge Judy.”

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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