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With many viewers hoping President Clinton would address his current sex scandal, 53.1 million Americans tuned into his State of the Union address Tuesday, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co. That figure is up 29 percent over last year's address, when Clinton had to compete with coverage of the O.J. Simpson civil trial verdict. The president attracted a combined 37.2 national rating and 56 percent audience share on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and cable's CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News Channel from 9 to 10:15 p.m. Each rating point equals 980,000 homes.
While there have been hints that Detective Diane Russell is pregnant on ABC's "NYPD Blue," the blessed event hadn't been confirmed - until now. While nobody on the show has spilled the beans, ABC did this week in a press release about an upcoming episode. In detailing the plot for next Tuesday's show, it tells how the pregnant Russell (Kim Delaney) and her lover and sometime partner, Detective Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits), get into a bit of a tiff because he's upset with her for putting herself and their baby in jeopardy during a shootout.
They're gonna make it, after all. Seventies sitcom mates Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper will reunite in a new comedy on ABC, targeted for the fall of 1998. Here's what little we know: ABC has ordered up 13 episodes of the comedy, in which Moore and Harper will return to their previous personas as Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern - only now, instead of working girls living in the same apartment building, they're both widows, each with a twentysomething daughter named after the other one.
The Big Three evening newscasts spent more time last week covering the death of Princess Diana than any other story since 1991, according to the Tyndall Report, a newsletter that tracks news coverage. The networks devoted a combined 197 minutes of their evening newcasts to the fatal car crash and its aftermath. That is nearly two-thirds of the roughly 330 minutes of combined air time the three newscasts offer weekly. The reporting on Di's death was the most for one story in a week since the August 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, which occupied 255 minutes.
Model and MTV host Daisy Fuentes is adding "America's Funniest Home Videos" to her resume. Thursday, ABC said Fuentes will take over as host of the popular program when it returns midway through the 1997-98 television season. She replaces Bob Saget, who hosted the show from its launch in 1990 to the end of last season.
Bryant Gumbel will host CBS' broadcast of the 49th annual Primetime Emmy Awards competition on Sept. 14, days before the launch of the new TV season and Gumbel's new CBS newsmagazine. CBS intends that the hosting gig will be a three-hour prime-time promotion for Gumbel's prime-time show and hopes it will be seen by most of the 43 million viewers who tuned in to at least five minutes of last year's Emmy broadcast. The TV season starts on Sept. 22. Gumbel's show, which is slated for Wednesdays at 9 p.m., probably will not debut the first Wednesday of the official TV season because CBS is scheduled to air the Country Music Awards that night.
NBC is still top dog, but its bark is a little quieter. The No. 1 network won its 10th straight "sweeps" ratings period and its second consecutive season ratings race, Nielsen Media Research announced. Yet even in victory, NBC lost more than 10 percent of its audience from a year ago as cable channels continued to steal viewers from the networks.
The syndication industry is holding its breath to see whether Oprah Winfrey will bring her top-rated talk show back after next year. But some observers say her May sweeps road trip with Tina Turner sends a signal that she's far from ready to hang up her microphone. As part of her "Oprah Runnin' Wild With Tina" road trip, Winfrey will follow the rock singer's national "Wildest Dreams" tour to several cities and do shows from Houston on May 2 and Los Angeles from May 12-16.
The presidential campaign was the leading topic on the three network evening news shows in 1996 by a wide margin, pushing crime, which had led the list for three straight years, to second place. The eighth annual such survey by the Center for Media and Public Affairs notes all 13,201 stories that were broadcast on ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in 1996.
Barbara Walters is moving into the daytime arena, mostly as a producer. ABC's periodic prime-time interviewer and full-time "20/20" co-host is the driving force behind a series the network is considering as a replacement for the troubled daytime talker "Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends." Along with Bill Geddie, who produces her prime-time specials, Walters will executive-produce "The View From Here," an hourlong series pilot for the network.
Will the 17th time be the charm? Soap-opera diva Susan Lucci got herself in the hunt once again, picking up yet another Daytime Emmy nomination this week. She can add it to 16 others, none of which led to the top prize. It is a winless streak that has grown to legendary proportions, and, ironically, has surely brought her as much or more attention than have the antics of her "All My Children" character, Erica Kane. The 24th Annual Daytime Emmys will be presented May 21 on ABC during a live telecast from New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Pat Buchanan, who took a leave of absence from CNN two years ago this month to pursue the Republican nomination for president, returns as a co-host of "Crossfire" on March 3. Buchanan, a "founding father" of the talk show, which since 1982 has pitted a conservative against a liberal in a discussion of the day's major stories, will return to the conservative seat, in which he will alternate with John Sununu (Bob Novak, who has been Buchanan's principal substitute, will continue to be on call).
Jerry Seinfeld has agreed to come back for a ninth season of his hit NBC sitcom "Seinfeld," sources reported Wednesday. NBC had hoped to be able to announce Saturday, during entertainment division chief Warren Littlefield's press tour session, that the show would return for another season. Getting the stand-up comic to agree was considered the major hurdle NBC had to clear, but the network still has to plow through several other "Seinfeld"-related deals, including a license-fee negotiation with Castle Rock as well as pacts with cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander.
Fox is making some changes in its Sunday and Monday night schedules after the first of the year, including the introduction of a new animated sitcom, "King of the Hill," on Sundays. "King," from the creator of "Beavis and Butt-head" and the co-executive producer of "The Simpsons," will be introduced Jan. 12 in the 8:30 time slot currently occupied by "Ned & Stacey." Meanwhile, "Ned" and "Married ... With Children," whose back-to-back episodes now occupy the 7 p.m. hour on Sundays, will move to Mondays on Jan. 6. "Ned" will be at 9, followed by a single half-hour of "Married ... With Children."
In "Friends" news, Ross (David Shwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) will hit rough waters when she leaves the womb of Central Perk for an assistant buyer's job at Bloomie's. "Suddenly, she has a career and is out in the real world. It creates a lot of pressure on the relationship," says "Friends" exec producer David Crane. Not to mention a hunky new colleague (Steven Eckholdt, star of CBS' short-lived '92 sitcom, "Grapevine"). "Certainly, it's more fun when there's conflict in a relationship," Crane explains. "There's juicier stuff to play."
ABC is benching "Coach" and two other members of its struggling Saturday night lineup in the network's first shakeup of the fall television season. "Coach," the sitcom starring Craig Nelson as coach of the fictional Orlando Breakers, will be off the air indefinitely after two episodes are broadcast on Oct. 26, said ABC.
MTV's goofy game show "Singled Out" put former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy on the entertainment map, but now she's saying adios to the program. An MTV spokesman has confirmed that the darn-near-sizzling bottled blonde will exit midway through the show's fourth season, which starts in December. After that, a soon-to-be-cast replacement will take over the gig as sidekick to show host Chris Hardwick.
Shields. Photo from NBC
MTV: Music Television will finally launch its long-planned spinoff music video network Aug. 1, but industry observers wonder if cable operators will be any more receptive to another music video network than they have been about multiple all-news channels. The risk is almost nil for MTV because the cost associated with the launch and operation of M2, as it will be called, are relatively small. It's so small in fact, that the network won't even carry advertising for months until it can deliver an audience of a size worth advertising to. (It will have only about 1 million subscribers at launch.)
MTV is pre-empting today's 7 p.m. airing of a gay edition of the game show "Singled Out" because the content is "too mature." The controversial show will still be seen at 11 tonight, as scheduled. "Singled Out" is MTV's take on the classic "Dating Game" series and usually features dozens of men and women in search of a heterosexual date. A few months ago, producers taped a same-sex edition, pairing men and men, women and women. MTV spokeswoman Tina Exarhos said Wednesday that after viewing the segment, MTV's standards department thought it was much too strong for the early time period.