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Are the Olympics in for a Bad Night?

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2006

''Grey's Anatomy'' beat the Olympics Sunday night in the national ratings. ''American Idol'' crushed the games on Tuesday night, and ''House'' did so in some markets (including Northeast Ohio). I see a bad night coming for the Olympics.

Why tonight? New ''Idol,'' for one thing, where the field will be narrowed one more time before fan voting starts next week (and telecasts expand to three nights a week). I'll be watching.

New ''Lost,'' also, and one that sounds as if it will have some important plot developments. I'll be watching here, too.

''Bones'' will probably do well, since it will follow ''Idol.'' The ''One Tree Hill'' crowd will probably remain loyal. Too bad CBS and its corporate companion UPN are basically rolling up the carpet -- with reruns of ''Criminal Minds,'' ''CSI:NY'' and (waaaaa) ''Veronica Mars.'' It could have made things even rougher for NBC, especially with younger viewers.

I'm tempted to say the Winter Games will end up third for the night, behind ''Idol'' and ''Lost.'' Of course, they could run a strong second in each of the first two hours and then draw enough people at 10 p.m. to make a good night of it. But it won't bode well for NBC during the second week of the Olympics, when ''Idol'' will fill five hours of prime time (two hours of performances on Tuesday and again Wednesday, and an hour-long results show on Thursday). Success there will undoubtedly encourage the other networks to be even more aggressive the next time the games come around.

Don't get me wrong. I like watching the Olympics, as I have said in other posts and will say again in a column in tomorrow's Beacon Journal. But I don't like them so much that I'll give up the big serialized stories on ''Idol'' and ''Grey's'' and ''Lost.''

Speaking of ''Idol,'' I'm still irked that the show kept the Hissy Twins around on Tuesday's telecast. A far more entertaining scenario would have been holding them to their resignation from the competition (or, better yet, holding Hissy 1 to his resignation but keeping Hissy 2, since H1 shouldn't have spoken for him when quitting).

But ''Idol'' is very much a soap opera, especially in this stage, and I'm sure they didn't want to give up a couple of outrageous players too soon.

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