About 4 million people watched the debut of "Sex and the City" on commercial television Tuesday night, breaking ad-supported cable records for a network series rerun in its delivery of young viewers and women.
The 10 p.m. premiere of the former HBO series, about four hot single chicks in New York, was the most watched program of the day on cable -- basic or pay. The "Sex" launch also outstripped everything on CBS, Fox, WB and UPN that night among 18-to-34-year-olds.
That said, the episode -- in which Carrie becomes runway roadkill when she trips over her high heels while modeling Dolce & Gabbana undies in a fashion show -- had averaged more than 6 million viewers when HBO unveiled it during the show's peak in its fourth season. And, don't forget, pay cable network HBO is in only about 33 million homes while basic cabler TBS is in about 88 million.
TBS is launching the show in syndication this week by telecasting two episodes each night that have been declared "memorable" -- presumably by someone at TBS. Of course they're less memorable than they were on HBO because much of the adult language and the sex have been exorcised to protect basic-cable virgins.
Starting next Tuesday, TBS will rerun the entire "Sex" series in order, two episodes at a time. TBS, owned by Time Warner, which also owns HBO, is the exclusive home for "Sex" for 15 months before the series begins its run in broadcast syndication (in the Washington market, on WBDC).
Tuesday night's second "Sex" episode -- the one in which Miranda Hobbes meets future husband-bartender Steve -- averaged 3.4 million viewers. So, overall, back-to-back "Sex" averaged 3.7 million viewers, which, in one of those strange coincidences that makes you think maybe there really is a Grand Master Plan, is exactly the average audience for the very first "Sex and the City" episode on HBO way back in June 1998.
On the guy-TV front, Comedy Central has canceled "The Man Show" after someone at the Viacom-owned cable network noticed that large-breasted women jumping on trampolines may be hilarious for a couple of seasons, but after that it's just sad.
A Comedy Central spokesman noted that of late the new episodes, with stupendously unfunny hosts Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan, were only doing as well in the ratings as reruns hosted by considerably-funnier-but-that's-not-saying-much Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla.
"If old shows do as well as the new ones, why make more?" the spokesman asked rhetorically.
"The franchise has run its course," he said, noting that "five years for any show, broadcast or cable, is a great run." Comedy Central has the rights to continue to rerun "The Man Show" for four more years, the rep said.
NBC Universal announced late yesterday it has replaced Pat O'Brien as host of "Access Hollywood" with Billy Bush, whom Billy Crystal once called "the most annoying man in show business."
Bush will host with Nancy O'Dell, who was on the team that launched "Access Hollywood" eight years ago.
This would mean that a newsmag had willingly dumped the older-guy half of its anchor team in favor of a younger guy -- O'Brien is in his fifties; President Bush's cousin is 32 -- while hanging on to the chick who has been around forever.
And, any idiot knows that never happens.
So you just know something funny is going on here. According to various trade paper reports, O'Brien's contract is coming up and Paramount Domestic TV, which produces "Access Hollywood" rival "Entertainment Tonight," has been eyeing him to host its new "ET" spin-off, "The Insider."
Yesterday's announcement would seem to indicate that O'Brien had decided he'd rather move to the Paramount show, where he'll get to anchor solo.
"Billy's great. . . . They knew I was leaving, so their preemptive strike was to announce this," O'Brien told the TV Column. "I'm happy for Billy, happy for Nancy."
A Paramount Domestic TV rep declined to comment. That's probably because NBC Universal's exclusive negotiating window with O'Brien has not expired.
"Access Hollywood" Executive Producer Rob Silverstein insisted that the decision was theirs, not O'Brien's. "I felt this was the perfect time to do this; we have the momentum," he told the TV Column, noting the show's improved ratings in the May ratings sweeps.
O'Brien said he's still set to work on Summer Olympics coverage for NBC's networks. He will do seven hours of live coverage a day for MSNBC, a late-night show on NBC for 17 days and host the opening and closing ceremonies on HDTV.
Yesterday, "Access Hollywood" called Billy Bush "a game changer." But O'Brien has for the past seven years been the face of "Access Hollywood." And when NBC News needed someone to interview Bennifer about their relationship and then-upcoming flick "Gigli" for "Dateline," O'Brien was the go-to guy.
"The Insider" is scheduled to debut in mid-September. Some published reports have described it as the next "tabloid" show.
O'Brien declined to discuss the program or whether he'd had conversations with Paramount, but when we mentioned the "tabloid" thing he shot back: " 'Tabloid' is if you mention Michael Jackson, J.Lo or Britney Spears more than twice a month -- which would include the ABC nightly news, the CBS nightly news, the NBC nightly news, 'Dateline,' '20/20,' '60 Minutes' and every single magazine that's on the newsstands."
WB has replaced the guy who presided over its series development since 2001, bringing you such shows as "Everwood" and "Smallville," with one of the guys who brought you UPN's "Eve" and "One on One" as well as HBO's "Six Feet Under" and PBS's "American Family."
Less than 24 hours after announcing that Jordan Levin had stepped down as CEO of the Time Warner network, WB announced that producer David Janollari had been named president of WB entertainment. It's almost as if they'd recruited Janollari before making that generous offer to demote Levin back to entertainment president.
Janollari is a comfortable choice, having worked at Warner Bros. TV for several years as a development executive before leaving to form his production company, the Greenblatt Janollari Studio. (His partner, Robert Greenblatt, left last summer to head the entertainment division at Showtime.)
The production boutique also did the short-lived UPN series "Platinum" and "The Hughleys," which started on ABC. At Warner Bros. TV, Janollari worked on comedies "Friends," "The Drew Carey Show" and "Living Single" as well as early WB comedies "The Jamie Foxx Show" and "The Wayans Bros."