The Programming Insider: Ashton Kutcher to Replace Charlie Sheen

First choice Hugh Grant passed on the offer

In Today's Issue:

Prime-Time Metered Market Thursday Ratings: Idol Leads Fox to More Victory
Ratings Box: What’s Hot/What’s Not
On the Air This Weekend: Prime-Time Programming Options
TV Tidbits: Notes of Interest
TV Trivia Time: Talky Tina

PRIME-TIME METERED MARKET THURSDAY RATINGS: Idol Leads Fox to More Victory

Thursday 5/12/11
Note: The overnight data now includes DVR playback until 3 a.m. local time. One year earlier it was based on Live data only.  All times are ET/PT. 

Household Rating/Share
Fox: 10.6/17, CBS: 7.6/12, ABC: 5.3/ 9, NBC: 2.8/ 4, CW: 1.9/ 3

Percent Change From the Year-Ago Evening (Thursday, May 13, 2010):
Fox: +100, CBS: -14, ABC and CW: -17 each, NBC: -22

Yesterday's Winners:
American Idol (Fox), The Mentalist (CBS), The Office (NBC)

Yesterday's Losers:
30 Rock (NBC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Outsourced (NBC)

Ratings Breakdown:
Not surprisingly, Fox led Thursday in the overnights on the strength of American Idol, with a 3.0 household rating point advantage over second-place CBS.  Third was ABC, followed by lowly NBC and always last-place The CW.

The live American Idol Results Show roared to the winning finish line from 8-9 p.m., with a 14.3 rating/23 share.  Comparably, that equaled the four competing networks combined, but the absence of ousted James Durbin will certainly be noticeable next week.  At 9 p.m., already renewed Bones on Fox followed with a third-place 6.9/11, which dipped from the 8:30 p.m. portion of American Idol (15.2/24) by 55 percent.

Over at CBS, laugh-out-loud The Big Bang Theory finished a comfortable second at 8 p.m., with a 7.9/13 in the overnights.  But erosion of 33 percent for Rules of Engagement at 8:30 p.m. (#2: 5.3/ 8) leads you to wonder why it is returning next season.  The season-finale of CBS’ fading CSI followed with a second-place 7.3/12 at 9 p.m. (13 percent below the year-ago telecast), followed by The Mentalist at a dominant 9.0/15 at 10 p.m.  Next Thursday, The Mentalist concludes with a two-hour installment.

ABC opened the evening with Wipeout at a distant third-place 3.3/ 5 at 8 p.m., which is a time period that will have to be addressed next fall.  Next were original episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (#1: 7.4/12 at 9 p.m.), which dipped by 13 percent from one year earlier, followed by spinoff Private Practice at a second-place 5.4/ 9 at 10 p.m.

Moving to NBC, the season finale of Community should have been the series finale given the fourth-place 2.4/ 4 in the overnights at 8 p.m.  That led into a repeat of The Office (#5: 2.1/ 3 at 8:30 p.m.), followed by demo friendly The Office (#4: 4.4/ 7 at 9 p.m.), which always scores among adults 18-49, followed by two episodes of Parks and Recreation (9:30 p.m.: #4, 3.1/ 5; 10 p.m.: #3, 2.6/ 4) and the series finale of Outsourced (#3: 2.1/ 4), which did not benefit by moving to 10:30 p.m.

The CW closed the night with two season finales: The Vampire Diaries (#4t: 2.2/ 4) and Nikita (#5: 1.5/ 2).

Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

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RATINGS BOX: What’s Hot/What’s Not

Week-to-Date Scorecard:
Based on live-plus-same-day results from Monday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 11, ABC ranks first in total viewers, with 12.43 million, followed by CBS (11.07), Fox (10.90), NBC (5.79) and The CW, at a mere 1.39.  With one night of American Idol factored in, Fox tops the adult 18-49 charts at a 3.7 rating/10 share, followed by ABC (2.9/ 8), CBS (2.6/ 7), NBC (2.0/ 5), and The CW (0.7/ 2).  While Fox is a lock for the full week in the demo, CBS is expected to pass ABC once the three-hours of Survivor on Sunday are factored in.

NBC Re-Ups Chuck Despite Ongoing Lack of Interest:
NBC’s Chuck, which is on-the-fence, so to speak every season, has been renewed for 2011-12 with an order for 13 episodes.  But based on results for Monday, May 9, the light-hearted thriller finished fourth in the 8 p.m. hour in both total viewers (4.10 million) and adults 18-49 (1.4/ 4).  With lack of lead-in support, The Event (Viewers: #4, 3.85 million; A18-49: #4, 1.1/ 3) and Law & Order: Los Angeles (Viewers: #3: 5.06 million; A18-49: #3, 1.2/ 3) from 9-11 p.m. have, no doubt, earned their pending cancellation stripes.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)
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ON THE AIR THIS WEEKEND: Prime-Time Programming Options

Friday 5/13/11

ABC:
8:00 p.m. Shark Tank (season finale)
9:00 p.m. Primetime: What Would You Do?
10:00 p.m. 20/20

CBS:
8:00 p.m. Flashpoint
9:00 p.m. CSI: NY (season or series finale)
10:00 p.m. Blue Bloods (season finale)

NBC:
8:00 p.m. Friday Night Lights
9:00 p.m.  Dateline (two hours)

Fox:
8:00 p.m. Kitchen Nightmares
9:00 p.m. Fringe (season finale)

CW
8:00 p.m. Smallville (series finale, two hours)

Saturday 5/14/11

ABC:
8:00 p.m. Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End (R)

CBS:
8:00 p.m. CSI (R)
9:00 p.m. The Mentalist (R)
10:00 p.m. 48 Hours

NBC:
8:00 p.m. Chase
9:00 p.m. Law & Order: Los Angeles (R)
10:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU (R)

Fox:
8:00 p.m. Cops
9:00 p.m. America’s Most Wanted

Sunday 5/15/11

ABC:
7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos
8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters (season finale)

CBS:
7:00 p.m. 60 Minutes 
8:00 p.m. Survivor: Redemption Island (season finale, two hours)
10:00 p.m. Survivor: Redemption Island Reunion

NBC:
7:00 p.m. Dateline 
8:00 p.m. Minute to Win It
9:00 p.m. Celebrity Apprentice (two hours)

Fox:
7:00 p.m. The Simpsons (R)
7:30 p.m. American Dad
8:00 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. Bob Burgers
9:00 p.m. Family Guy
9:30 p.m. The Cleveland Show (season finale)

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TV TIDBITS: Notes of Interest

Ashton Kutcher Joins Cast of Two and a Half Men:
Details of his character are not confirmed.  But former That ‘70s Show star Ashton Kutcher is about to sign a deal to replace Charlie Sheen on CBS’ Two and a Half Men.  First choice Hugh Grant passed on the offer.

More NBC Fall Pick-Ups:
NBC has added three more dramas to its fall 2011 slate: Awake, Grimm, and 1960s based The Playboy Club.  Described as an Inception-like thriller, Awake features a police detective (Jason Isaacs) who wakes up in two different realities after a horrible car crash: one in which his son lives and the other where his wife lives.  Grimm focuses on a detective who realizes his calling is to protect people from the unexplained beasts he is seeing.  And The Playboy Club will follow the lives of the club's Bunnies in 1963 Chicago while also exploring the political and moral changes of the era.  The ensemble cast includes Amber Heard, David Krumholtz and Eddie Cibrian.

NBC previously announced the pick-ups of sitcoms Whitney and Up All Night, and dramas Prime Suspect and musical-driven Smash.  The highly publicized revival of Wonder Woman is not moving forward.

More News from NBC:
Dramas Harry’s Law, Parenthood and Chuck have been renewed for next season, while singing competition The Voice will air live from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT out of returning summer stalwart America’s Got Talent beginning on Tuesday, June 7.  The battle rounds are currently airing in the Tuesday 10 p.m. hour.  Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, meanwhile, is in conversations to host his own primetime newsmagazine next season.

Rules of Engagement Lives On:
On-the-fence CBS sitcom Rules of Engagement, which moved from Mondays to Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. this season will be back.  The network has picked-up an unspecified number of new episodes for 2011-12.

Executive Shuffle:
Debmar-Mercury, the home of The Wendy Williams Show and Family Feud, has promoted Dareen Doyle and Jim Kramer to the newly created positions of SVP, Sales, on the East and West coasts.  Kramer, who has served as VP, sales, for Debmar-Mercury since 2006, will represent the distributor throughout the western U.S. while Doyle, who has been VP, sales, for the company since 2007, will  handle the Eastern U.S. for the company.

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TV TRIVIA TIME: Talky Tina

Note: To respond to the trivia, please click HERE. Do not click Reply.

Remember the classic episode of The Twilight Zone called “Living Doll” when a wicked doll named Talky Tina promises to murder her owner's cruel step-father?  Who played the step-father?

a) Fred MacMurray
b) Steve McQueen
c) Cesar Romero
d) Telly Savalas
e) William Shatner

The answer to yesterday’s question…

What state was unseen Florida Evans supposed to in at the year Esther Rolle did not appear on sitcom Good Times?

a) Arizona
b) California
c) Florida
d) Georgia
e) New Mexico

Is: a) Arizona.  After Esther Rolle exited the series in season five, the writers shipped Florida and second husband Carl off Arizona, which was a better climate for ailing Carl.  When Rolle returned for the sixth, and final, season there was no word of mention about what happened to Carl.

Current kudos goes to:
Steve Albright, Gerry Bixenspan, D.C. Carter, Larry Collins, Tom Condosta, Terrence Dean, Jerry Gibbons, Maureen Goldman, Martha Gonzalez, Bob Ingersoll, Synda Kollman, Steven Kurtzer, Michael Murphy, Gordon Purcell, Cynthia Qualich, David Ruckman