The NBC doctor drama “ER” topped the Nielsen ratings last week with a 21.9 rating/36 share.
A rating point equals 954,000 television households. A share is a percentage of the TV sets in use during a time period.
A rerun of the NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” grabbed second place. The ABC sitcom “Home Improvement” placed third, followed by the “NFC Championship post-game” show on Fox.
A rerun of the ABC sitcom “Grace Under Fire” claimed the No. 5 spot. The CBS Sunday Movie, “Presumed Innocent,” placed sixth.
The ABC cop drama “NYPD Blue” was No. 7, the ABC sitcom “Roseanne” No. 8 and the NBC sitcoms “Madman of the People” and “Friends” rounded out the top 10.
ABC had the highest average primetime ratings for the week (11.8), followed by NBC (11.7), CBS (11.3), Fox (9.1) and the fledgling WB Network (1.9).
‘Voyager’ wins slot
“Star Trek: Voyager,” the newest version of “Star Trek,” provided the United Paramount Network with a rocket-fueled start on Monday night: the new network beat all the established ones on its first night on the air in many of the largest cities in the country.
The two-hour premiere of “Star Trek: Voyager” averaged a 14.7 rating and a 20 share in Nielsen’s preliminary, weighted ranking of 31 big-city markets. In the same 8-10 p.m. period, Fox averaged 13.6/19 with its much-hyped two-hour “Melrose Place” special. CBS averaged 12.7/17 with “The Nanny,” “Dave’s World,” “Murphy Brown” and “Cybill”; NBC a 9.3/13 with “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Blossom” and the first hour of the Steven Seagal flick “Out for Justice”; and ABC 9.1/12 with “Coach,” “Whole New Ballgame” and the first hour of the made-for-TV movie “Death in Small Doses.”
Nielsen’s final rankings won’t be nearly as kind to UPN, since the new network isn’t available in about 20 percent of U.S. households (most of those in small towns). Even so, “Voyager” in the biggest markets prevailed against the four networks all at once, in a time slot that has proved one of the most competitive this season.
Spokane’s Fox affiliate, KAYU-Channel 28 (channel 3 on Cox Cable) will air “Voyager” on Saturdays at 6 p.m., with the two-hour premiere this weekend.
Synder ratings good
Also on the numbers front, a nice start for “Late Late Show With Tom Snyder.” In its first full week, the program got a 2.5 rating and a 12 share in 28 metered cities where it airs. Not bad at all, and about three-fourths of a ratings point more than “Crimetime After Primetime” was doing. “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”? He got a 2.3 rating/11 share in 30 cities. So Week 1 goes to Tom.
The Sundance Kid is getting his own cable network.
Robert Redford, star of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and director of “Quiz Show,” has teamed up with Showtime to launch a commercial-free premium channel this fall to air independent films.
The 24-hour Sundance Film Channel will carry about 300 different films per year and cost viewers about $6 per month.
“Redford will provide the creative vision and guidance and Showtime will handle the day-to-day operations,” said a Sundance channel spokesman.
Redford has a longstanding interest in promoting movies not made by Hollywood’s major studios.
In 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute in Park City, Utah, which assists independent filmakers, and he later added an annual film festival. Hits such as “sex, lies and videotape” have had their debuts at the festival.
Among the films already slated to run on the channel are “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Orlando” and “Short Cuts.”
$6 mil for new Grisham novel?
A new novel from John Grisham is about to go out to Hollywood with a whopping price tag attached. Sources say agents for the author have set $6 million as the starting mark for offers.
Information about “The Rainmaker,” which will be published by Doubleday in the spring, was sketchy. One Hollywood executive confirmed that her company had been informed the book was about to go out “in the next few weeks.” Beyond that, she said she knew almost nothing about the book. “It’s about a lawyer in the South. That’s all I know,” the executive said.
If, as expected, final bids for the book top the starting offer, Grisham will have a chance at the record for adaptation rights. The mark has been established by Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett,” the sequel to “Gone With the Wind” that sold for almost $9 million to Robert Halmi Entertainment and then performed disappointingly as a CBS miniseries.
HBO big awards winner
“Dream On,” “National Geographic Explorer” and “Barbra Streisand: The Concert” were among the multiple winners Sunday night at the 16th Annual CableACE Awards.
Among channels, HBO was the biggest winner with 23 awards, including four for “The Larry Sanders Show.” A&E; was a distant second with eight trophies, the Disney Channel and TNT each received seven, and CNN and ESPN took home six apiece.
The top award, for best movie or miniseries, went to A&E;’s “Cracker: To Say I Love You,” whose Robbie Coltrane also was honored as best actor in the genre. Disney’s “Avonlea” was named best drama series and “Larry Sanders” won for best comedy series.