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Ms. Couric on the record


After a rough start, CBS News anchor Katie Couric seems to have found her sea legs.

I thought her interview with the pilot Chesley Sullenberger on "60 Minutes" was excellent (and apparently caused a snit over at her old show, NBC's "The Today Show") and after she got rid of all the "modern" touches on her 6:30 pm broadcast, it's stronger.

She's just digging in and doing good work and that's all I ever wanted.

But let's get her take, courtesy this interview on The Beast.

"Amazing Race": New twists for old teams

Yippee, 'The Amazing Race"is back. Now I can have exotic staycations!

The mix of teams is familiar with a few interesting characteristics thrown in. It's too early to care about names, so we'll proceed with just their labels:

The obligatory blonde team. This time they're flight attendants who think because they are blonde they can practically get away with murder in foreign lands. This is not the first time a blonde team has expressed that kind of sentiment. Do blondes really think they are that
desirable or is it just a defensive move against charges of dumbness?

The overachieving siblings. This time they're Harvard lawyers, although there's a nine-year age difference, so they don't seem unnaturally close.

The mother & son. The son is deaf and doesn't read lips, so he'll have to rely on his mother, which is a pretty typical mother/son relationship, no?

David Letterman Getting a New Deal?



With Jay Leno sticking around, but moving to 10pm, and Conan O'Brien ascending to The Tonight Show, the late night landscape is shifting.

Now there's news that David Letterman may decide to hang around longer than 2010.

Packer and Knight going to Vegas

Billy Packer and Bob Knight have lined up a gig to do a series of shows on the NCAA men's basketball tournament — from a race and sports book in Las Vegas.

Cowher staying at CBS

Tags: bill cowher | CBS

In case you missed it, former Pittsburgh Steelers coach and N.C. State player Bill Cowher said Sunday on "The NFL Today" show that he doesn’t plan to coach in the NFL next year, and will stay with CBS Sports as a studio analyst.

Cowher was recently wooed by the New York Jets but took himself out of the running as a candidate for the Jets job on Dec. 30. He also was a candidate for the vacant Cleveland job but asked to be taken off the list.

CBS, Turner may team on Olympic rights bid

Tags: ABC | CBS | ESPN | Fox | NBC | Olympics | TBS | TNT

CBS and Time Warner executives have discussed joining forces to bid on rights to televise the Olympics in 2014 and 2016, which could create quite a competition of media companies, The Associated Press reports.

Incumbent NBC, Fox and ABC/ESPN have all said they expect to bid on the U.S. rights to the Games. The International Olympic Committee has postponed its bid selection until after the host city is named next October for the 2016 Summer Games, AP reports.

If CBS works with Time Warner, competition could be televised on CBS, TBS and TNT.

BC Universal has spread Games coverage across its properties, including CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Telemundo and a Web site. NBC has televised every Summer Olympics since 1988


College football's top TV games

Last Saturday’s SEC Championship was the highest-rated college football game of the season, The Nielsen Co. reports. Florida's victory over Alabama on CBS drew a 9.3 rating — it was seen in 9.3 percent of the nation's households by an estimated 15.1 million viewers, making it the most watched SEC Championship ever and the highest-rated, non-bowl game since 2006.

ABC’s "Saturday Night Football" had six of the top seven games. Not surprisingly, given the way the season played out, Big 12 games dominated the top 10, with seven of the top nine broadcasts.

No sign of the ACC in the top 10, which follows:

Rank Time/date Network Game Rating
1. 4 p.m. Dec. 6 CBS SEC Champ: Alabama-Florida 9.3
2. 8 p.m. Nov. 1 ABC Texas-Texas Tech 7.5
3. 8 p.m. Sept. 13 ABC Ohio State-USC 6.9
4. 8 p.m. Nov. 22 ABC Texas Tech-Oklahoma 6.6
5. 8 p.m. Oct. 25 ABC Penn State-Ohio State 6.4
6. 8 p.m. Nov. 29 ABC Oklahoma-Okla. St. 5.7
7. 8 p.m. Dec. 6 ABC Big 12 Champ.: Missouri-Okla. 5.5
8. 8 p.m. Nov. 8 ABC Okla. St.-Texas Tech; Cal-USC 5.3
9. 12 p.m. Oct. 11 ABC Texas-Oklahoma 5.2
10. 3:30 p.m. Nov. 8 CBS Alabama-LSU 5.1

The ACC title game, in which Virginia Tech whipped Boston College, drew a 2.6 rating on ABC.

Prime-time Saturday rare for ACC football

Tags: ACC | CBS | ESPN | Nielsen | SEC

When Notre Dame plays Boston College at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 on either ABC or ESPN, it will be the first Saturday prime-time telecast involving an ACC football team in three weeks. If only the major broadcast networks and ESPN are counted, and not ESPN2, it will be the ACC's first Saturday prime-time appearance since Sept. 27, when Virginia Tech defeated Nebraska 35-30.

There's more to it than which games the networks like — contractual restrictions, preseason scheduling — but that's definitely a factor. This year's ACC story lines simply aren't blowing away network executives.

So far this season, 10 games involving ACC teams have been aired in prime-time — four on ESPN on Thursday night and three on ESPN2 on Saturday night. Of the three other Saturday prime-time games, two involved Southeastern Conference teams, and all three took place in August or September.

SEC teams, by comparison, have hit prime-time in 15 games this season — three on Thursday night, two on ESPN2.

ESPN and ACC officials note that the Thursday night telecasts are considered marquee games that are scheduled before the season, and the ACC's Mike Finn says some of the conference's better games have been played that night.

ESPN also is somewhat restricted by the SEC's contract with CBS, which usually televises its SEC games at 3:30 p.m. Saturdays. ESPN can't go against CBS with an SEC team or teams in that time slot, which leaves an earlier slot Saturday or prime time — 8-11 p.m. — for ESPN. That means ESPN's SEC games Saturday tend to be shown in prime time.

That said, ESPN wants ranked teams with the most compelling stories on the air in prime time. Three SEC teams are ranked in the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll — No. 2 Alabama, No. 5 Florida and No. 8 Georgia — LSU sitting at 15th. The ACC is flying under the radar with Florida State at No. 16, UNC at No. 21 and Maryland at No. 25.

The big guns brought via expansion — Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College — have eight losses among them.

To TV networks, ratings ultimately mean more than rankings. A look at three broadcast network football telecasts on Saturday night shows little difference. Alabama-Clemson on ABC on Aug. 30, Virginia Tech-Nebraska on ABC on Sept. 27, and LSU-Florida on CBS on Oct. 11 all reached about 4 million to 4.3 households, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In Nielsen's weekly cable network top 40 listings through Oct. 19, however, the only ACC team to make it was Miami in its 26-3 loss to Florida on ESPN on Sept. 6. In addition to that game, the SEC accounted for three other top-40 games, according to Nielsen.

Review: "The Mentalist"

"The Mentalist" (9 p.m., Tuesdays, CBS)

It would be easy to enough dismiss this series about a man who used to make a living as a psychic, thanks to his razor-sharp mental acuity, as a rip-off of USA's screwball "Psych." But this dark series is definitely not a comedy, and is nowhere near as annoying. Simon Baker's ace portrayal of Patrick Jane, a cocky but spiritually wounded mentalist who helps the police solve murders, puts him in an ever-growing list of flawed heroes that includes Vincent D'Onofrio on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and Damian Lewis on "Life." It's up to you if you need to add another cop show of its type to your schedule. But Baker is always worth watching, even when the details Jane catches are obvious or ridiculous. And boy oh boy, does Patrick Jane have some back story.

Grade: B plus

CBS yanks McCain's "Lipstick" ad from YouTube

Ben Smith of Politico reports that CBS has ordered YouTube to take down a quickie Web ad from the McCain campaign that fuels the tiresome, manufactured "lipstick on a pig" controversy that has been polluting cable news all day. CBS takes issue with a Katie Couric quote taken out of context.

Apparently, the term "lipstick on a pig" wasn't always so controversial, back before the brand-newest Biggest Celebrity in the World supposedly trademarked the word lipstick.

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