On ‘Rock Center,’ a yawn affair over Mimi Alford’s JFK fling

February 9, 2012

“Rock Center’s” big-get interview with Mimi Alford — in which she shared with viewers the details of her fling with President John F. Kennedy while a teenage intern in 1962 — attracted only 5.1 million people to the NBC newsmagazine Wednesday night.

In her new book, “Once Upon a Secret,” Alford says she and the president began an affair on her fourth day on the job at the White House. Which, to reiterate, only 5.1 million people cared about Wednesday night.

To put this in perspective: Also on Wednesday night, 6 million people wanted to learn the most intimate details about George Clooney’s kitchen. Yes, 6 million people tuned in to the premiere episode of CBS’s resuscitation of Edward R. Murrow’s famous-people-at-home interview show, “Person to Person.” On which Lara Logan and Charlie Rose grilled George about his kitchen. Get it — grilled?

“What’s inside your fridge, George,” Logan asked in her no-nonsense way.

“Mmmmmm . . . nothing?” Clooney guessed.

Mimi Alford, left, is interviewed by Meredith Vieira on “Rock Center.” (NBC)

“He doesn’t know!” Rose exalted.

“I, uh . . . there’s some lady that makes salads for me . . . salads and some sort of a juice thing because, you know, one of my New Year’s Eve resolutions was to eat better and to, sort of, do one of those cleanses,” Clooney fumbled.

“I’m really glad I did that.”

But the same night Alford was dishing delicious details about JFK to her audience of 5 mil and Clooney was making kitchen confessions to 6 million rabid fans, a whopping 19 million people tuned in to “American Idol” to learn all the details about a teen chick singer’s plunge off the stage during the Fox singing competition’s grueling Hollywood Week at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

And all 19 million were disappointed to learn that “Idol” producers had just strung them along for the hour with repeated showings of the same very short clip in which cute 16-year-old Symone Black is seen plunging off the stage — and that they’d have to tune in again Thursday night to see what happened to her after that. (Hollywood-in-Pasadena Week episodes are taped in advance.)

At the end of the hour, viewers saw Symone lying on the floor at the foot of the auditorium’s stage. Her stage dad rushed to her side while “Idol” exec producer Nigel Lythgoe shouted, “Medic, please!” Meanwhile, the show credits rolled.

“Tomorrow night, find out what happens to Symone,” show host Ryan Seacrest intoned.

And, on Twitter, Lythgoe exulted in real time: “I know you’re all going crazy. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow. That’s why I’m a mean producer.”

“It’s not a ‘cliffhanger,’ ” he added. “She didn’t hang — she fell.”

At the top of Thursday’s episode, we again saw Symone faint and fall off stage, only this time it was followed by Symone receiving medical help, as some other wannabe Idolettes spontaneously formed a prayer circle. J-Lo told fellow judge Steven Tyler: “Poor baby. I was going to say that was one of the prettiest sounds I’d heard all day!”

Turns out, Symone had not eaten in a really long time. Someone asked somebody to get her an “Idol”-sponsoring Coke; after she drank it, she was back on her feet and off with her dad to get checked out at a hospital — while Coke execs could give thanks.

Oprah’s Oscars!

Oprah Winfrey announced Thursday that she would interview Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (both from “The Help”) and Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”) for a two-hour special called “Oprah’s Oscar Special,” which will be telecast on the Oprah Winfrey Network — 11 days before the Oscars.

The two-hour special will feature “revealing” and “intimate” interviews with the nominees — as only Oprah can capture, her network says — as they prepare for Hollywood’s biggest night” — 11 days later.

This year’s Academy Awards broadcast is scheduled to air Feb. 26 on ABC.

Davis is nominated for best lead actress; Spencer is up for best supporting actress. Hill — nominated for best actor in a supporting role — will talk with Oprah about co-starring with Brad Pitt, OWN said. (It is the first Oscar nomination for Spencer and Hill.)

“Oprah’s Oscar Special” will be produced by Oprah’s Harpo Studios.

Miami ‘Housewives’ 2.0

The Bravo network finally made it official: It’s bringing back “The Real Housewives of Miami” for a second season. Returning housewives from the first season include Marysol Patton, Lea Black and Audriana De Moura, the network said. Bravo insisted that they are all “aspirational women” who “work hard and play harder” in a city “where the food is spicy, and the drama is even spicier” — after which the network ran out of cliches. Unless you’re also counting the headline:

MUY CALIENTE! BRAVO GREENLIGHTS “THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MIAMI” FOR A SECOND SEASON

Prime-time FBN overhaul

Fox Business News has scrubbed its low-rated prime-time lineup and will instead repeat its better-watched 5-8 p.m. lineup in the prime-time block, the network announced Thursday.

Gone are “Freedom Watch” with Andrew Napolitano, “Power & Money” with David Asman and “Follow the Money” with Eric Bolling. Last year, FBN averaged 54,000 viewers in prime time.

Starting Feb. 20, “The Willis Report,” anchored by Gerri Willis, will run at 5 and 8 p.m. “Cavuto,” starring Neil Cavuto, will be seen at 6 and 9 p.m. And you can catch “Lou Dobbs Tonight” at 7 and 10. In the second quarter, when FBN launches the new 5 p.m. show it’s developing for Melissa Francis — who joined the network from CNBC — “The Willis Report” will run only at 8 p.m.

“Stossel,” hosted by John Stossel, will continue to be telecast at 10 p.m. Thursdays, the network said.

To read Lisa de Moraes’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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