CBS won last week's ratings race with 21/2 hours of "Two and a Half Men," but the largest crowd came to see ABC's show about has-beens learning to dance.
Here's a look at the cancans and can'ts:
Michael Jackson. Jacko's still got it! More than 30 million people tuned in to hear the verdict in his child molestation trial on Monday, across ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, Court TV, E! Entertainment, MTV, MTV2, Telemundo and Univision. (Not included are those who watched on the Fox broadcast stations that preempted their syndicated or local programming to run a Fox News feed provided to them.) To put this number in perspective, it is:
* About 3 million more people than watched the Martin Bashir documentary on ABC in February 2003, in which Jackson prattled on about sharing his bed with the then-13-year-old boy at the center of the trial.
* More than twice as many as watched Jackson's rebuttal to Bashir on Fox two weeks later.
* About 7 million fewer viewers than watched Michael's interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC shortly after he married Lisa Marie Presley in June '95.
"Two and a Half Men." Proving that packaging is everything, CBS won last week with a 21/2-hour marathon of "Two and a Half Men" reruns. They averaged nearly 11 million viewers and made Monday the network's most-watched night of the week. Each episode won its time slot and four of the five landed in the week's top 10.
"Dancing With the Stars." The C-list celebrities series was last week's most-watched program, with more than 15 million viewers. It's ABC's first entertainment show in four years to finish first during a summer week.
"Primetime Live." Brad Pitt's "enough about me, let's talk about the poor African children who actually got to meet me" interview with ABC News's Lady Di copped more than 11 million viewers Tuesday at 10. That's ABC's best non-sports summer audience in the time period in nearly seven years. And among young adults, it was the highest-rated summer newsmag telecast since Bennifer I's interview on NBC's "Dateline" in July '03.
"Into the West." About 6.5 million viewers caught the first part of TBS's six-week miniseries from DreamWorks SKG and Steven Spielberg. In its Friday 8-10 p.m. debut, "Into the West" trounced ABC, CBS, Fox, WB and UPN. Only NBC's "Dateline," featuring Ann Curry's talk with one-half of Brangelina, managed to outstrip the western, with more than 8 million viewers.
"The Cut." Tommy Hilfiger's so-you-wanna-be-a-fashion-designer reality series didn't make the cut (saw that one coming, right?) on CBS's plum Thursday lineup when it opened with an anorexic 6.6 million viewers. After which, a "CSI" rerun nearly doubled its audience.
"MTV Movie Awards." A reunion of "The Breakfast Club" cast, the first MTV Generation Award delivered to Tom Cruise by his made-for-TV girlfriend Katie Holmes, and Dustin Hoffman's crotch-grabbing acceptance speech drove off all but 4.7 million viewers. That's the awards telecast's worst number since 1998. As recently as 2002 this show was logging an average of more than 7 million.
"The Real Gilligan's Island." Despite a super-creative ad campaign in which faux Gingers and faux Mary Anns roll around in pie and much cleavage is exposed both fore and aft, Wednesday's unveiling of this reality series's second season snagged only about 1.8 million viewers, immediately after which the second episode logged 2 million. In October '04, the very first and second episodes logged 4 million and 3.7 million, respectively.
NBA Finals. The pro basketball franchise, featuring the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons, got off to a sluggish start; the first two broadcasts averaged just 10.6 million viewers, compared with last year's 16 million with the L.A. Lakers in the running.
The week's 10 most-watched programs, in order, were: ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," CBS's "CSI," "Two and a Half Men" and "Two and a Half Men" again; ABC's "Primetime Live"; CBS's "Two and a Half Men" and still another "Two and a Half Men"; Game 2 and Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC; and CBS's "60 Minutes."