'Dancing' Sweeps Away Thanksgiving Week

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Millions of turkeys died last week -- and one of them starred Rosie O'Donnell.

Here's a look at the week's giblets and leftovers:


· "Dancing With the Stars." Monday and Tuesday's seventh-season finales of ABC's dance competition series were the second and third most watched broadcasts of the November sweep, with 21 million and 20.7 million viewers, respectively. No. 1 for the sweep: The "60 Minutes" interview, two weeks back, with TV's newest rock star, President-elect Barack Obama.

· "Britney: For the Record." MTV's "no topic off-limits" interview with Britbrit clocked nearly 4 million viewers Sunday, which, eerily, is exactly the same as the number of people who watched the first episode of Britbrit and K-Fed's UPN Love-Story-Infomercial "Britney & Kevin: Chaotic" way back in May of '05. Despite the newer Britney infomercial's shocking lack of, um, answers to any of the questions everyone wants answered -- you know, like what was up with shaving your head? (Brit said people did it all the time, which seemed to satisfy her interviewer.) And why did she date a member of the paparazzi, which she claims to be the poor victim of, blah, blah, blah?

"Brit: FTR" was the week's third most popular show among 18-34-year-old chicks, behind only ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and Fox's "House," which had a very special hostage-taking episode. All you college communications majors: I'm sure there's a term paper in there somewhere about chick-viewer trends.

· "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." Nearly 3 million of the 11 million viewers who watched its bajillionth broadcast were kids aged 2 to 11, making the animated holiday classic the week's No. 1 prime-time program -- cable or broadcast -- in that age bracket. No broadcast show has accomplished that feat since the "American Idol" season finale back in May.


· Rosie O'Donnell. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, Rosie resuscitated the Old-Fashioned Variety Show on the final night of the November sweep, in what was to have been a backdoor pilot for a variety series. Sadly, only about 5 million bothered to tune in, giving the resuscitation of OFVS the life span of your average plant louse. (On the bright side, Rosie's variety show clocked more than twice as many viewers as Ellen DeGeneres's TBS variety show, three nights later.) Although a very bad sweep number, interestingly, it was far from NBC's worst sweep performance. Twelve NBC telecasts did worse, in fact, than Rosie during the November ratings derby: four episodes of "Crusoe," four episodes of "Lipstick Jungle," three episodes of "My Own Worst Enemy" and one Friday "Deal or No Deal."

· "The Shield." What was promised to be the very last episode of Michael Chiklis's bad cop drama went out limply Tuesday, when just 1.6 million viewers tuned in. More than 2 million watched this season's unveiling and, in its heyday -- that would be its second season -- FX's "Shield" copped as many as 4.4 million viewers. Alarmingly, Chiklis's Vic did not go toes-up in the finale, and at a recent finale screening for The Reporters Who Cover Television, the show creator would not rule out a "Shield" flick -- as if there weren't already enough sadness in the world.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: ABC's Monday "Dancing With the Stars," ABC's Tuesday "Dancing With the Stars," CBS's "60 Minutes," CBS's "NCIS," CBS's "The Mentalist," NBC's "Sunday Night Football," ABC's "Desperate Housewives," CBS's "Two and a Half Men," CBS's "CSI: Miami" and CBS's "Criminal Minds."

* * *

CBS and ABC unveiled their midseason schedules yesterday.

Their strategy, in a nutshell:

All New Series Launch at 10 p.m. Because Fox Does Not Program 10 p.m. A.k.a. Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman is a crazy man who, from mid-January through May, uses "American Idol" like a Jedi knight wielding a light saber to pulverize anything in his network's prime-time path.

Heck, CBS is actually launching one new reality series Saturday to keep it out of "Idol's" way.

ABC is launching three new drama series:

· "Castle," about a "wildly famous mystery novelist" who teams up with an NYPD detective when the cops notice a killer is staging murders out of his books. It's airing Mondays at 10, starting March 9.

· "Cupid," ABC's attempt to remake its late-'90s romantic dramedy, which starred Jeremy Piven as a guy who thinks he's the Roman god of love and who must make 100 couples fall in love before he can return to Mount Olympus -- and co-starring show-killer Paula Marshall as his shrink. Now it stars Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson and launches Tuesday, March 24 -- at 10.

· And finally, "The Unusuals," a cop show starring Amber Tamblyn -- seriously -- joins ABC's lineup on Wednesday, April 8 -- at 10.

But first, ABC News's "Primetime: What Would You Do?" returns Tuesday, Jan. 6 -- you know it's coming -- at 10.

CBS, meanwhile, will launch two new series -- one at 10, the other on Saturday.

· "Harper's Island," which is being billed as a "13-episode mystery event" (in the old days they'd call that a miniseries) will premiere Thursday, April 9, at 10. It's a serialized drama about a group of family and friends who travel to a secluded island for a destination wedding -- only in every episode, one of the guests is killed. CBS -- which, unlike the other broadcast networks, learned its lesson about serialized dramas after getting burned in the whole "Jericho" kerfuffle -- swears that "by the end of the 13 episodes, all questions will be answered, the killer will be revealed and only a few will survive."

· "Game Show in My Head," a hidden-camera game show from Ashton Kutcher, premieres Saturday, Jan. 3, and will air at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays. Joe Rogan, of NBC's "Fear Factor" fame, hosts as contestants perform "outrageous tasks" in public, for $5,000 each.

CBS will also bring back its summer drama "Flashpoint" on Jan. 9 to replace the canceled "Ex List" in the Friday 9 p.m. hour. And "Survivor" returns for its 18th edition on Thursday, Feb. 12, while the 14th round of "Amazing Race" is unveiled Sunday, Feb. 15.

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