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How Networks Parse the Numbers

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 29, 2006

Since Thursdays are turning into a quite interesting fight, I'm offering you some different spins on the numbers from that night. First, ABC's release:

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More Thursday: ''CSI'' and, oh, yeah, ''Shark'' (With Brief Update)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 29, 2006

Update: For those of you tracking the ratings war on Thursday, ''CSI'' edged ''Grey's Anatomy'' in total viewers last night, while ''Grey's'' again had a sizable lead among viewers 18 to 49 years old. Both ''CSI'' and ''Grey's'' are still sizable hits, with close to 23.5 million viewers for the CBS show and about 23.3 million for ''Grey's.''

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Thursday Night Madness: ''Survivor,'' ''The Office'' ''Grey's Anatomy''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 28, 2006

I think ''Survivor: Cook Islands'' is in trouble. Tonight's episode ended the deliberate provocation of the racially divided tribes, turning the show into just plain ''Survivor,'' and not great stuff at that. The eventual double cross that sent Cecelia packing was mildly entertaining but most of the episode dragged. And that's not very enticing when the competition includes ''Earl/The Office,'' ''Ugly Betty,'' ''Smallville'' -- in other words, shows people can get passionate about.

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Thoughts on ''Ugly Betty''?

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 28, 2006

You've had a chance to see it. Comments welcome. And here's an odd one -- in the form of a letter to Betty -- that arrived in tonight's e-mail, clearly from someone who didn't see the braces as part of the show's overall exaggeration:

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A Few Print Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 28, 2006

As part of my moving into pop culture, I have a piece in today's Beacon Journal about Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise and whether personal controversy affects how we see performers in onscreen roles. (The answer, by the way, is yes in some cases.) You can find the column here.

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''Crossing Jordan'' Bumped Again

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 28, 2006

Last spring, NBC announced it was holding ''Crossing Jordan'' for midseason. Then, as part of a schedule overhaul, it decided to bring it back after all, with the return planned for Oct. 20. Now that return has been put on hold while NBC tries to improve its ratings with ... another game show. Here's the announcement:

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''Dancing'' Results (Spoiler)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 27, 2006

It hasn't been a great year for Harry Hamlin onscreen. Last spring he saw his ''Veronica Mars'' character done away with, and tonight he found himself in the bottom two on ''Dancing With the Stars'' along with Jerry Springer.

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A Brief But Passionate Endorsement

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 27, 2006

I am sitting here waiting for a conference call to start. Because I can't just sit for any length of time -- you should see the ever-changing book stack in the bathroom -- I have also been flipping through  Phil Rosenthal's book ''You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom.'' Good book, no matter where you read it.

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''Dancing'' Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 27, 2006

Thanks for all the recent comments. Didn't get to much TV on Tuesday night -- life keeps getting in the way -- except for  ''Dancing With the Stars.'' But that did raise a few questions:

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''Old Christine'': Old Idea?

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2006

I've been working my way through some of last night's TV, which I missed because of a meeting and a need for sleep. The only thing I saw in real time was ''Two and a Half Men.'' Funny still, good cameo from Mr. Tyler. (For some recent news about Tyler, see here.)

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Sunny Days for DVD

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2006

If you want your children to love the same ''Sesame Street'' that you did, make note of the following DVD:

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''Help Me Help You''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2006

I didn't get around to ''Help Me Help You'' for this morning's Beacon Journal for a couple of reasons. One, I felt a greater need to file a column about the season premiere of ''Gilmore Girls'' (which was a variation on what I had already posted in this blog). Two, I forgot about it.

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''Studio 60'': Now That You've Seen the Second Episode...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2006

... here's the question: Did the cold open live up to the hype? I mentioned before that I didn't think it was all that good, and I still don't think so. I mean, an edgy and contemporary show -- and it supposedly wows the crowd with a riff from Gilbert & Sullivan? That cuts into the credibility of the piece; if the sketch wasn't really great, we probably shouldn't have seen it at all. Then again, I have heard conflicting opinions at work -- pro-sketch and anti-sketch. Any thoughts out there?

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''Law & Order'' Does Mel...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2006

This from NBC today:

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''America's Got Talent'' News...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2006

... or, how to make a show look more like ''American Idol.'' From NBC today:

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''Heroes'' Tonight

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2006

The following was written for today's paper, but didn't get in. So ...

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Where the Money Goes

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 22, 2006

This is from a recent report in Advertising Age:

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Long Night, Short Takes: ''The Office,'' ''Grey's Anatomy,'' ''Survivor'' (Some Spoilers) (Now With ''CSI'' Added)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 21, 2006

Update: ''Grey's'' outdrew ''CSI'' in the overnight ratings...

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''Scarface'': Now It's Really Loud

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 21, 2006

Tonight I'll be neck-deep in new TV (''The Office,'' ''Grey's Anatomy,'' ''CSI'') and plenty of you will be, too. Lots of office conversation today about ''Grey's.'' But since the conversation here is going to broaden to include a lot of other topics, let's also consider a movie question.

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''Dancing With the Stars'' Results

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 20, 2006

First the divorce, now this: Shanna Moakler and her pro partner Jesse De Soto got the sack on tonight's show.

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Mickey Hargitay Tribute

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 20, 2006

One more from today's mail (bold type the network's):

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An Item of Significance, Though Perhaps Not for the Reason You Think (Corrected)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 20, 2006

I've been chewing on this item from ESPN. (Bold type in the release is the network's.)

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SNL Premiere, Casting

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 20, 2006

Today's official announcement, with the regular cast four paragraphs in...

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Sometimes the Toys Don't Work

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 19, 2006

I had hoped to write something here about the season premieres of ''How I Met Your Mother'' and ''Two and a Half Men'' last night. Unfortunately, I only saw about one-and-a-half shows.

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Doing This Job, Part 1: Chatting on the Air

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 18, 2006

A couple of things happened last week that will give you a glimpse at part of this job works, for good or ill.

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Doing This Job, Part II: Chasing Leonard Nimoy

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 18, 2006

Now, on to Leonard Nimoy. While I've already mentioned a couple of times that I saw Nimoy last week, I haven't explained the part of the day that made me feel as if I was trapped on some endless, digressing journey like the Blues Brothers' Mission From God. If only Bill Shatner had shown up to say, ''We're getting the band back together,'' then it would have been perfect.

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I'm Still Here

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 17, 2006

The other day, a reader took issue with a column I wrote about Meredith Vieira's debut on ''Today.'' (You can find the column in a post below.) Looking for a cutting finale, the reader ended the letter by asking ''have you received your walking papers from the new owners?''

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Veronica Marvelous

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 15, 2006

Sometimes getting to see shows ahead of time can be frustrating. In July, a bunch of us saw a new episode of ''The Shield.'' It was really good. But the show doesn't come back on the air until January. So there was considerable whining about having to wait to see more. It was like getting an appetizer at a banquet, then having to sit through hours of speeches before you get the rest of the meal.

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''Survivor: Cook Islands''/''Amazing Race''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 15, 2006

I was out of the house and on the job last night, covering a local appearance by Leonard Nimoy. (You can find the story here.) Then I watched a preview copy of Sunday's premiere of ''The Amazing Race,'' because it has a team of Cleveland guys in it and I wanted to see if there was anything I should write about over the weekend.

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Steve Irwin TV Update

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 15, 2006

From today's e-mail:

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Good Morning, Good Video

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 14, 2006

The folks from ''Nobody's Watching'' sent along a link to their music video, which will be of use to anyone who likes the show, loves the Pretenders, has lived in Ohio -- or just needs a foolish grin to start the day. It's here:

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''Rock Star'' Finale

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

When I finally got around to last night's telecast, it was pretty much a snore -- except for Dilana, and even she has obviously softened up her look -- more girly to win favor with the fans and the guys. But mostly I tried to think of a good new name for Supernova, and even that wasn't very inspiring.

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Good Morning, Meredith

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

Meredith Vieira started on the ''Today'' show this morning. Here's a preview of the bloggish column I wrote about her debut for tomorrow's Beacon Journal:

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Fast-Breaking Near-News...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

In my e-mail, marked for 3:22:45 p.m. Eastern:

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Advice for Britney

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

While she was pregnant with her now-born second child, Ms. Spears told People magazine that  "it just kind of happened. ... I'm going to wait a while for the next (one)! I feel like I've been pregnant for 10 years!" Since she obviously needs a lot of help from people who use all their available brain power, I've made a short list of ways she can avoid getting pregnant too soon. And none requires her to operate a motor vehicle or travel back in time.

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Cheerleaders Are Forever

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

For those of you who fondly remember the heyday of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders -- which included TWO TV-movies -- I offer this announcement:

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Second Looks: ''Studio 60,'' ''Ugly Betty,'' ''The Class,'' ''Jericho,'' ''House,'' ''Nip/Tuck''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 13, 2006

As I have said more than once, reviewing a new TV show can be tricky because you're seeing a single episode -- and not necessarily a representative episode -- to gauge how a show might be over 22 telecasts. Networks have come to realize that over time, so they'll send out additional episodes to give you a better feel for the show. ''Law & Order: Criminal Intent'' sent out something like six before its debut, and ''The Wire'' ultimately sent out its entire fourth season before that began recently. So the mail lately has included second telecasts of some shows, and here's where I stand on them now.

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Grinch News

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 12, 2006

The Boris Karloff version of ''How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' -- vastly superior to the Jim Carrey version is getting new DVD treatment. But I'd like to see more honor paid to Zero Mostel's reading of the Christmas classic. I have it on LP but don't know of a CD re-release. Anyway, here's the DVD news:

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How ''Criminal Intent'' Will Start...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 12, 2006

I also received a copy of this episode and will post more notes once I have a chance to watch it...

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''24'' Update: Casting, Plot

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 12, 2006

From the morning e-mail:

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Living in Browns Town

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 11, 2006

You would expect Saturday night's battle between Ohio State and Texas to be huge with sports fans anywhere. And it certainly was in Buckeye-heavy Northeast Ohio, where more than 27 percent of local homes with television on average were tuned to the game.

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New ''Seinfeld'' DVD

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 11, 2006

Almost exactly one year after the last ''Seinfeld'' DVD, Jerry and the gang will present a seventh-season set on Nov. 21. Here are some particulars from Sony:

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Ellen and Oscar

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2006

The following comes from a transcript of Ellen DeGeneres's chat with Jessica Simpson, which airs Monday:

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Rosie O'Donnell Update

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2006

Didn't get to see much more of Rosie on ''The View'' last week after the premiere, as other things ate up my time. But remember my comment from the first show that ''Barbara Walters looked shrunken and ancient next to her''? There's an interesting note about the size difference, and ''The View,'' in Rosie's blog at www.rosie.com. Here goes:

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''Gilmore Girls'': It Will Be All Right, I Think

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2006

''Gilmore Girls'' doesn't start its new season until Sept. 26 (on the new CW network) but I had to go ahead and check out the review copy that arrived recently. After all, there is a lot of curiosity among fans about how the show will fare since the departure of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. And she left the show in a bit of a box with her last episode, which found Lorelai and Luke breaking up, and then Lorelai rushing into the arms (and bed) of her ex, Christopher. Then there was the whole issue of Rory and Logan, and as subtext the whole issue of Alexis Bledel's limited range as an actress.

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''The Simpsons,'' Odds and Ends

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2006

Around an extended period of football-watching (Buckeyes last night, Browns today), I squeezed in tonight's season premiere of ''The Simpsons'' and was glad to do so. Glad, first of all, to have a new ''Simpsons'' well before Halloween. (I remember times Fox delayed its start so long that the annual ''Treehouse of Horror'' Halloween special ended up airing after Halloween.) Glad, second of all, because it is still a reliably funny show. And because of its pedigree, it is able to get top people to lend their voices.

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Little People, Big World

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2006

Good news in today's e-mail for fans of the TLC show:

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Football, ''The Closer''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2006

Not the greatest game to start the year. And NBC's coverage at times made me feel as if I was watching a very long trailer for its game on Sunday, the Giants-Colts confrontation being touted as ''the battle of the brothers.''

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Football!

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 7, 2006

As I noted in a blog last weekend, we've already begun to have real college football (and the bride has already decreed that our schedules must be cleared for Ohio State-Texas on Saturday night). And tonight, we finally start real NFL football, as well as the official return of prime-time pro football to NBC. (Exhibition -- I mean, preseason -- games just do not count, unless you're a poor sap who gets injured in one.)

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''Rock Star'': Boys' Night In

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 6, 2006

Soon enough, Storm Large will put out a CD, and it will have ''What the .. '' on it, and I will very happily buy it. And, at some point in the future, Supernova will put out a CD, with its new lead singer, and I won't care much.

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''Rock Star'': Sorry, Dilana...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

Storm was it tonight.

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Katie Couric, Douglas Edwards and Me

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

Katie Couric's debut tonight on ''The CBS Evening News'' was only half-interesting, and that half was in the second part of the show. (I'll have a full review of her and of Rosie O'Donnell in tomorrow's Beacon Journal.)

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And ''The Nominees'' Is ...

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

... funny, a bit sad and better in the end than I thought it might be in the beginning.

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Where You Can Find ''Everwood'' Next

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

ABC Family picked up the rerun rights to ''Everwood'' some time ago, but it's now formally scheduled it. And this is especially important to fans given the unlikelihood that the later seasons will make it to DVD. (The sales of the first-season set were reportedly too disappointing to justify later releases.) Anyway, here's the ''Everwood'' announcement:

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''Nip/Tuck''

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

The wait is over for fans. Now let's find out what kind of a fan you are.

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''House'' Season 3 (Contains Spoilers)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

I have been talking around some of the plot developments in tonight's season premiere of ''House'' (including in a new podcast you can find at www.ohio.com) because it does make a difference to see the early scenes without preconceptions.

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I Adore Rosie O'Donnell (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2006

Rosie's 10 minutes or so into her debut on ''The View'' and a show I have recently considered unwatchable has instantly become something that I might start DVR'ing.

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Goodbye, Crocodile Hunter

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2006

Steve ''Crocodile Hunter'' Irwin is dead. You can find the details here.

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Rainy Saturday

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 2, 2006

Not exactly a day for yard work, which is fine by me. The bride has already declared that all activity will stop at 3:30 so we can watch Ohio State start its football season against Northern Illinois. The University of Akron, in which we have a rooting interest, will be playing Penn State at the same time, so there may be some channel-flipping.

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''Star Trek" Revamped: I Blame George Lucas

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 1, 2006

This announcement came from Paramount yesterday:

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