Zach Gilford, Friday Night Lights
Fumble! You can bet that was one of the many football clichés that rang through the halls of NBC's competitors when the ratings for the premiere of Friday Night Lights came in. Despite rave reviews and a promotional blitz (couldn't resist), the new series about Texas high-school football drew 7.2 million viewers and finished behind ABC's Dancing with the Stars and CBS' NCIS in the 18-to-49 demographic that advertisers care about most.
But every network has got some issues to deal with as new shows continue to roll out this fall. Here's an early run through the ratings winners and losers so far.
Heroes: Sci-fi fans have turned this into what looks like a breakout hit. Even though the show dropped more than two million viewers from its premiere, it was still very
Skeet Ulrich, Jericho
The new CBS drama Jericho has a good-news/bad-news message. The good news is that you can survive a nuclear attack. The bad news is it’s not a lot of fun afterwards. But the whole “what if” nature of Jericho — set in a small town that is cut off from the rest of the world after a nuclear strike — is what makes it one of the more intriguing concepts of the new season. The Biz talked to executive producer Jon Turteltaub about why he thinks it’s the right time to go nuclear in prime time.
TVGuide.com: A lot of people are going to compare this show to the 1983 TV-movie The Day After, which was also about how a nuclear attack affects a Kansas town.
Jon Turteltaub: The main difference is we’re not doing a show about people walking around with their hair falling out. It’s about what you do when you survive it. It could be any place that gets cut off.
If you want to know the significance of Katie Couric's rise to become the first female anchor of CBS Evening News, just ask Lynn Sherr. The longtime ABC News correspondent for 20/20 can remember being told by past bosses that the idea of having a female in such a role was ridiculous. She recounts her career climb against in-your-face sexism in her new memoir Outside the Box: A Memoir (released by Rodale Press this month) and recently shared her thoughts with the Biz.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of Katie Couric's performance so far on CBS Evening News?
Lynn Sherr: Katie's a professional. She's got reporting experience and anchoring experience, and she's a perfectly good anchor. What's sad is that it took this long to have a solo female anchor. The truth
Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, Today
Can Meredith Vieira be Meredith Vieira?
That could be the biggest challenge ahead for Today's new coanchor, who starts Sept. 13. The former moderator of The View has already learned that her free-wheeling opinions will be under a microscope in her new job. She found out the hard way after an interview that recently ran in Time magazine, which quoted her saying that her old show turned into "a joke" after her departure. The remark spent a weekend as a headline on the Drudge Report and became fodder for the New York tabloids.
Vieira's answer was taken out of context — Time even ran a clarification — but she still had to apologize to View den mother Barbara Walters, who was more than a little s
In the 1960s and '70s, Dick Cavett was the thinking person's talk-show host. His well-received daytime program on ABC led to a late-night stint that lasted five years. The Dick Cavett Show never challenged NBC's Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the ratings, but its high-profile guests often generated plenty of buzz. Luckily, many of his most memorable chats are available on DVD. The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats, featuring interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx, Robert Mitchum, Katharine Hepburn and others, will be released on Sept. 12, and starting that month you can also catch reruns on Turner Classic Movies. Cavett has also re-created his old show in a new hourlong sp
Shepard Smith, Fox News
If you think Fox News' Shepard Smith takes Hurricane Katrina personally, you're right. The smooth-talking anchor is from Holly Springs, Mississippi, and for him, the devastating storm and its aftermath is the natural-disaster equivalent of 9/11. Smith is heading back to the disaster-struck region to lead Fox's weeklong coverage of the first anniversary of Katrina, which Fox is airing under the hopeful title of America's Challenge: Rebuilding the Gulf. When he does his daily shows, Studio B and The Fox Report, in New Orleans and Mississippi from Aug. 28 through 31, Smith wants to highlight the pockets of success in the rebuilding effort. But he's also realistic enough to know that for most of the area's residents, life will never be the same. Smith recently talked to the Biz about what it means to go back to New Orleans and Mississippi.
TVGuide.com: There have been all thes
Katie Couric, CBS Evening News
Former Today coanchor Katie Couric will take over the desk at CBS Evening News on Sept. 5. The program will have a new set, new theme music ("Aaron Copeland-esque," says Couric) and some touches that will aim to distinguish it from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and ABC World News with Charles Gibson (which are ahead in the ratings). The Biz recently talked to Couric about the challenges ahead.
TVGuide.com: Are you nervous at all?
Katie Couric: Yeah, of course. It's a new job and a new challenge and something I haven't done before on a full-time basis. So I would say I'm slightly nervous, but also really excited and anxious to get started.
TVGuide.com: What's your biggest
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
It's nice to see that ABC wised up and invited Ugly Betty to the Thursday-night ball.
The new show — which will now be paired with Grey's Anatomy this fall — has been getting raves from those who have seen it. Executives from other networks have called it the best pilot they saw from their competition this year. Adapted from a telenovela that's been wildly popular for years in Latin America, Ugly Betty stars America Ferrera as a glamour-challenged woman from an immigrant family trying to make it at a flashy fashion magazine.
Salma Hayek and producer Ben Silverman have been trying to sell a U.S. version of Betty
Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America
Jim Murphy has returned to the morning-TV wars. On July 19 he was named the new executive producer of ABC's Good Morning America, which has been entrenched in second place behind NBC's Today for over a decade. But Murphy knows it could be worse: In the 1990s he helmed CBS This Morning, which struggled to get attention because the network still disdained morning TV's breezy blend of newsmaker interviews, cooking segments and pop concerts. That's no longer the case. As Murphy told the Biz, morning shows are now the main profit engines of all news divisions and are getting more attention than ever. We talked to Murphy about the new gig he's taking on after a six-year stint at CBS Evening News.
TVGuide.com: You left morning TV in 1998. How has it changed since then?
Jim Murphy: It's become more competitive, for all the obvious reasons. It's the on
Creed Bratton, The Office
Fans of NBC's The Office are slowly learning about Creed, the old guy who spends most of his time with is feet on his desk at Dunder-Mifflin. A deleted scene from one of last season's episodes revealed he was a member of the once-superhot '60s pop band the Grassroots. (Their hits "Midnight Confessions" and "Let's Live for Today" are still oldies-radio staples.) The actor Creed Bratton did play lead guitar in the band for a few of its glory years, and wandered the globe in search of musical stardom. The Biz caught up with Bratton at the TCA Press Tour in Pasadena and talked about the long, strange trip he's blended into his on-screen character.
TVGuide.com: How did you go from being in a pop band to acting?
Creed Bratton: Well, I was a drama major in college, b