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John Walsh to interview President Obama on Fox's 'America's Most Wanted'

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, March 4, 2010; C06

President Obama, who has had little luck getting the Fox broadcast network to preempt its prime-time programming to carry his non-State of the Union addresses, has totally outsmarted the network, getting time on Fox by agreeing to appear in one of its prime-time shows.

Obama will join "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh on Saturday as the show celebrates its 1,000th episode. According to Fox, Walsh is going to interview the president. The mind reels.

Walsh is one of prime time's more mercurial characters. For example, he told the press back in 2006 that when he was talking to senators about electronic monitoring of sex offenders, "I said implant it in their anus and if they go outside the radius, explode it, and that would send a big message." (Walsh said it was a joke, adding, "Nobody thought it was funny.")

In theory, the interview will be about the Obama administration's crime-fighting initiatives, including its support of state and local law enforcement, Fox says. The network also insists Obama will discuss the impact the show has had on "thousands of victims and millions of people" in its 22 years on the air -- with Walsh as host since the start.

* * *

Since the Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Sunday, NBC Universal has launched its NBC Recovery Campaign. Let's see how that's been going, shall we?

First, late night:

Things look pretty good on this front. In his second night back in the saddle at NBC's "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno hung on to 5.8 million of the 6.6 million viewers who'd tuned in to watch his first night back.

For a second consecutive night, Leno whomped David Letterman's show over at CBS (3.7 million) and ABC's "Nightline" (3.3 million), which airs slightly later.

Leno also beat Letterman and "Nightline" among those young viewers Leno supposedly couldn't dominate, which was why NBC dumped Jay from its late-night lineup in the first place and gave the "Tonight Show" gig to Conan O'Brien, who is now busy tweeting about interviewing squirrels in his back yard, watching "Remington Steele" reruns in the nude while eating Sugar Smacks, connecting all the freckles on his arm with a Sharpie -- and, in his spare time, he's counting the millions of dollars NBC delivered to him in wheelbarrows to make him go away.

In fairness, Leno's show had an advantage over its late-night competition in that it included a riveting segment in which the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, made her stand-up comedy debut.

After chatting with her for a while about this and that -- the Tea Party, The Media, her parents, ammo, joining Fox News Channel -- Leno asked if she planned, as some have speculated, to have her own talk show because, he said, she would need to know how to do an opening monologue.

"Are you willing to make your comedy debut tonight?" he asked, rhetorically, because anyone in front of the show who was still awake had already figured out this was a lame setup for a comedy bit.

But anyway, Palin went through with it gamely, exiting and then re-entering the stage as Leno introduced his new stand-up comedy find, and delivering her gags:

I am so happy to get to be here, this is the thrill of a lifetime, really. And Alaska seems so different from Los Angeles. Here, when people have a frozen look on their face, I find out it's Botox.

Now, let's look at NBC's prime time, where the network is taking the first steps to crawl out of the crater it created when NBC came up with the idea of abandoning the effort to come up with a scripted 10 o'clock drama someone would actually watch.

Tuesday night, that baby step involved the launch of the latest remake of the Ron Howard flick "Parenthood." And though you could hardly toss a curling stone without hitting a promo for "Parenthood" during the network's 17-day-long Olympics coverage, and though it stars media darlings Lauren Graham and Peter Krause, of WB/CW's "Gilmore Girls" and HBO's "Six Feet Under," respectively, the new one-hour series only opened modestly.

It actually won its time slot among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers NBC sells to advertisers. That's good. But its ratings in that age bracket were on par with what "Southland" and "My Own Worst Enemy" did last season. That's bad.

And, among all viewers, "Parenthood" got clobbered by CBS's "The Good Wife" (8 million viewers and 13 million, respectively), which is a drama that network launched in the fall when NBC was busy launching "The Jay Leno Show."

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