AMERICA’S TOP TEN: The 2006-2007 primetime season ended last week, and by Friday the hard, cold numbers for the year were made available by Nielsen. According to the list published by the Hollywood Reporter, the big winner in terms of overall ratings for shows was ABC, with six of the top 10 shows, while in terms of simple numbers it was Fox, just edging out CBS, who only had one show in the top 10. Fox either had three titles in the top 10 - American Idol results show(# 1) and performance show (# 2). House filled out Fox’ top-rated trio, while CBS held their place in the pantheon with the original CSI. ABC’s winning slate included both the third season and fourth seasons of Dancing With The Stars – unlike Idol, the performance shows were more popular than the results shows – along with Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives.
A glance at the list explains the rationale that governs programming at Fox, where a show is either a big winner or an easily cancelled dud, and unless the budget is negligible, almost anything that doesn’t pull big numbers is likely to share the fate of a show like Drive. CBS, true to its slightly geriatric image among networks, seems to believe that slow and steady wins the race, taking up seven of the next ten slots with two seasons of the big brand reality show Survivor, the top-rated sitcom (Two And A Half Men) and a raft of police procedurals (CSI: Miami, Without A Trace, NCIS and Cold Case).
NBC took their scant place in the bottom half of the top 20 with a game show (the Monday night edition of Deal Or No Deal) and sports stalwart Sunday Night Football. The network’s dramas and sitcoms didn’t make a dent on the top 20, which would explain the rumour, printed in Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood column in L.A. Weekly, that Kevin Reilly was going to be the network’s fall guy. Reilly, who has presided over NBC’s entertainment division since it lost Thursday night with the final episode of Friends in 2004 – we call it the “Joey Era” around my house - made a big toss of the dice last fall with shows like Kidnapped, Friday Night Lights, and Studio 60, only one of which survived to the end of the season.
Finke confidently reported this weekend that NBC CEO Jeff Zucker will be offering Reilly’s job to Ben Silverman, the man behind NBC’s Americanization of the UK comedy hit The Office, as well as The Biggest Loser, Ugly Betty and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? Silverman’s Reveille is a golden name among independent production companies, and Finke predicts that making the change will cost Zucker and NBC a lot, both to buy Silverman’s time and loyalty to NBC, and to buy out Reilly, who signed a lucrative new contract with the network just a few months ago that’s supposed to include a very generous golden parachute. Finke also quoted an unnamed source who said that Silverman, 36, "can barely manage his way out of a paper bag" because of his extreme lifestyle, relentless ass kissing, and constant jetting around in his private plane. Which suggests that it’s going to be another interesting year for NBC – bad news for shareholders; good news for me.