Audience was smaller for Obama's 2nd State of the Union

By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 26, 2011; 9:11 PM

About 43 million people tuned in to watch President Obama rally the nation to "win the future" Tuesday night in his State of the Union address across 11 television networks.

"Sustaining the American dream has never been about standing pat. . . . It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age. Now it's our turn," Obama said to a TV audience of about 5 million fewer people than watched last year's State of the Union.

Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress, on Feb 24, 2009, remains his record: It attracted 52.4 million viewers.

In calculating Obama's audience, Nielsen included ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Centric, CNBC, Fox News Channel and MSNBC - in the order listed by Nielsen.

Fox News was dominant among cable news networks, averaging 5 million of those 43 million.

Meanwhile, CNN averaged just less than 3 million and MSNBC averaged about 2.5 million.

'Oprah' ratings

Oprah Winfrey continues to pack 'em in for her swan-song season as queen of daytime TV.

Tuesday's edition of her syndicated talk show - in which she talked about discovering that she has a second half sister - delivered to the long-running franchise its biggest audience in nearly six years.

According to early stats, nearly 10 percent of the nation's TV households were tuned in to find out what it was that Oprah - in promos for the episode - called a "shocking family secret" that "literally shook me to the core."

That is the biggest rating for the show since Oprah's post-Academy Awards episode way back in February . . . of 2005.

During the episode, Oprah told her surprised studio audience that she recently found out she had a younger half sister who was given up for adoption at birth in 1963 - when Oprah was living with her father and not aware of her mother's pregnancy.

Heavy lies the crown

"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy decided that the eve of his show's triumphant return with original episodes on Fox - in a highly anticipated post-Super Bowl episode - would be the perfect time to tell the Hollywood Reporter trade paper that the members of the band Kings of Leon are "self-centered [expletives]" who "missed the big picture" for declining to let his show cover one of its tunes.

"[Expletive] you, Kings of Leon," Murphy added for good measure in THR's cover story - out this week.

(Back in August, the Tennessee rock band's members told a British publication that they routinely turn down offers and requests from Hollywood, including a request from "Glee" to cover one of their tunes, among others. "We could have sold out so much more. We turn stuff down constantly," the band members were quoted as saying.)

So, months later, on the eve of Murphy's show's highly anticipated post-Super Bowl episode, he tells THR: "They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument.

"It's like, okay, hate on arts education," Murphy continued. "You can make fun of 'Glee' all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music."

Frontman Caleb Followill told THR, "We're not sure where the anger is coming from. We just said 'no' to a license for a TV show, which we do a lot."

Let's recap, shall we?

Kings of Leon decides it doesn't want to let "Glee" cover its tune.

Ryan Murphy decides that anyone who will not let "Glee" cover its tunes hates arts education and is breaking the hearts of 7-year-old children who watch the show. So he must hurl expletives at them. Which some might think is a tad rich, coming from a guy whose show is a role model for millions of 7-year-olds across the country. And, of course, there are those who might call his timing bad-ish, coming, as his comments do, on the eve of "Glee's" triumphant return with original episodes on Fox in a highly anticipated post-Super Bowl episode. You know how sensitive broadcast networks are about who and what they put in and around the Super Bowl, ever since You-Know-What happened.

Apparently several people who read THR's story felt similarly:

"Ryan Murphy is the one acting like a self-centered [expletive]," one commenter noted colorfully.

"Hey Ryan . . . hope you read this . . . Shame on you. You think this attitude is healthy for 7 year olds?" chimed in another.

"Who died and made him [Barbra] Streisand?" wondered yet another.

"Ryan Murphy [is] now virtually trying to blackmail artists to be involved with him and his show," another concluded.

"ryan is so mean," concurred yet another.

Meanwhile, drummer Nathan Followill responded to Murphy's THR interview via Twitter:

Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7 yr olds how to say [Murphy's expletive].

But a couple hours later, Followill deleted that tweet and followed up with a sort-of apology: I'm sorry 4 anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic.

Ya think?

I'm so not that kind of person. I really do apologize.

The TV Column called the network and 20th Century Fox TV and reached out to Murphy to see whether anybody cared to respond to commenters', um, comments.

"We wouldn't have a comment on whatever he said," a network rep said.

"We don't have any comment or statement," 20th Century Fox TV said, adding: Murphy "does not plan to comment further."

'Talk' back

To the surprise of no one, CBS has renewed "The Talk" for next season.

"The Talk" is the first daily network talk show to premiere in daytime in nearly a decade. Like that other, similar show, "The View," "The Talk" also features a gaggle of women we've seen here and there already (no fresh faces) sitting around a table discussing this and that.

"The Talk" gaggle includes Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini. But the gag on this show - that which is supposed to distinguish it from "The View" - is that on "The Talk," they "are all mothers."

"The Talk" replaced the soap "As the World Turns" in October and has since averaged about 2.2 million viewers. The week of Jan. 14, its audience climbed as high as 2.4 million. And, CBS notes, during the November sweep, "The Talk" improved the ratings fortunes of CBS-owned TV stations in the weekday 2 p.m. Eastern slot by 33 percent among 25- to-54-year-old women, who are key to success in daytime TV.

"The show's success is largely due to our hosts' chemistry," David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, said in Wednesday's announcement.

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