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Obama's Ad 'Roadblock' Gets Traction

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Univision, BET and TV One are joining CBS, NBC and Fox to carry Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's paid half-hour TV address tonight -- just six days before the election.

And while MSNBC also will join in the fun, CNN reports that it took a pass, and Fox News Channel confirms it wasn't even asked to the party.

ABC, the only major broadcaster not carrying the infomercial after the network hemmed and hawed so long the Obama camp moved on, is weirdly being rewarded with a Wednesday one-on-one with the candidate for its evening newscast, which will air shortly before "The Barack Obama Show" takes over prime time at 8 p.m.

But, if watching Charlie Gibson peer over his skinny glasses to ask Obama what the Bush Doctrine means is your idea of some kind of not fun, you can instead catch Obama's infomercial postmortem at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," where he will appear via satellite as a giant talking head.

In between "The Barack Obama Show" and the Comedy Central postmortem, Obama's GOP rival, John McCain, also will have a chance to spin the infomercial -- on CNN's "Larry King Live."

CNN was approached by Obama's campaign about taking tonight's time buy, but unlike MSNBC took a pass. "We'd rather use our air to continue to cover the campaign, candidates and issues like we always do from all points of view with the best political team on television," CNN said in a statement. Whatev.

In other Barack Obama Is Taking Over Wednesday news, Mother Nature cast her vote Monday, when she not only rained out Game 5 of the World Series after 5 1/2 innings -- the first time a World Series game wasn't played to completion on the same day -- but kept up the downpour so long it forced Major League Baseball to announce that Game 5 would not be wrapped up until tonight.

What's expected to be a very short night of baseball -- maybe just a three-inning "game" -- pretty much ensures Obama's speech will air on the three major broadcast networks at the start of prime time on the West Coast as well as the East Coast, shoring up the desired "roadblock" programming effect.

Originally, the Fox broadcast network accepted the time buy only after Major League Baseball agreed to postpone the first pitch of Game 6 of the World Series by about 15 minutes to enable Fox to air the 30-minute time buy at 8. Fox told Obama's camp it could run the speech at 8 in the Eastern time zone but had to wait until after the game to air the message on the West Coast because of its contractual obligations to Major League Baseball.

Fox execs expect Game 5 Part Deux to end well before 8 p.m. Pacific time, which means they can run the Obama buy at 8 in that time zone.

* * *

The World Series face-off between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays on Fox couldn't distract enough viewers from CBS's procedural crime dramas, keeping the eye network at the top of the ratings heap for a fourth consecutive week.

Here's a look at the week's most and least:

WINNERS

"The Cleaner." A&E renews its Benjamin Bratt intervention series, which, according to Nielsen Media Research, is the most engaging cable show among Democrats and Republicans alike.

"Ghost Whisperer." Blog chatter about ominous-ish things that may be happening to Melinda's husband scared up more than 10 million viewers -- the CBS show's biggest audience in nearly three years.

"Life." When NBC's sophomore do-over series showed signs of life, including rampant DVR-viewing, the network plucked it from certain death on Friday and sent it to the relative safety of Wednesday.

"Mad Men." Some critics can't stand this period drama's 1960s pacing, but nearly 1.8 million viewers showed up for the second-season finale on AMC Sunday -- compared with 926,000 viewers for the first season's wrap-up.

"D.L. Hughley Breaks the News." Debut of CNN's newsedy show, featuring former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan's latest Dumping on the GOP act, attracted 1.5 million viewers Saturday night. That's 72 percent more people than had watched CNN's actual news show in the time slot this year.

"Gary Unmarried." CBS's latest exercise in Male Pattern Optimism -- doughy, dumb-ish guy scores the hot chick -- logs its best numbers to date, 7.6 million viewers, mostly because Fox did not air "Bones" that night, driving its chicks to "Gary." CBS rewarded the Wednesday farm-team sitcom with a Monday night tryout.

"Dancing With the Stars." ABC scrubs Ashton Kutcher's reality series "Opportunity Knocks," replaces it with more granny on the dance floor in age-inappropriate costumes -- a.k.a. "Dancing With the Stars" recap show starring Cloris Leachman -- and the time slot jumps from 5 million viewers to 9 million.

LOSERS

"Stylista.""America's Next Top Model" welcomes new "Stylista" with a lead-in audience of 4.4 million; "Stylista" fumbles all but 2.4 million of the viewers, which is barely better than CW was doing in the time period with repeats of the next generation of "90210."

World Series. With the Tampa Bay Rays in the mix, Saturday's game rained out until 10 p.m. and Monday's game carried over two nights due to rain, this year's series is on track to be the lowest-rated ever, though even in its depressed state, the World Series still managed to attract as many as 15.5 million viewers on Sunday.

"The Ex List.""Ghost Whisperer" delivers a lead-in advantage of 4 million to the newcomer, which, by its second half-hour, had fallen to fourth place in its Friday time slot. CBS yanked "Ex List" because it had only a narrow, young-female appeal. Maybe NBC wants it.

"Lipstick Jungle." NBC's other sophomore do-over series struggles on Wednesday, causing the network to send it to Friday, where all chick dramedies go to die. RIP, "Lipstick Jungle."

The week's 10 most watched programs: CBS's "CSI"; ABC's "Dancing With the Stars"; CBS's "NCIS"; ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" results show and "Desperate Housewives"; Fox's World Series Game 4; CBS's "The Mentalist," "Criminal Minds" and "Two and a Half Men"; and Fox's World Series Game 1.

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