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TV Bulletin Board (Oct. 29)

The 2008 presidential campaign at last is on borrowed time, with just six days remaining until voters write a happy ending for either Barack Obama or John McCain.

Meanwhile, Obama is going where Ross Perot repeatedly went in 1992 by buying a half-hour of time on Wednesday, Oct. 29th. Only ABC is out of the money among the four major commercially sponsored broadcast networks.

The Democratic nominee's pitch on his behalf, scheduled for 7 p.m. (central), will be on CBS, Fox and NBC.

No, it will not delay Wednesday's scheduled resumption of Game 5 of the World Series, as many have reported. Fox will simply dump a pre-game show that has run from 7 to 7:30 p.m. throughout the Series.

ABC, pushing ahead with its ratings-starved Pushing Daisies, initially wanted to air Obama's commercial on a different date before reconsidering and belatedly opening up the first hour of its Wednesday prime-time schedule. By then, though, the Obama campaign already had finalized its 30-minute buy, according to an Associated Press report. The price tag reportedly is $1 million per network. A typical 30-second Super Bowl spot costs roughly twice that much.

Perot's pie chart-themed half-hour infomercials ran numerous times in prime-time during his 1992 run for the presidency. Obama is unlikely to revisit those visuals.

The Democrat's half-hour commercial also is airing on cable's Univision, BET, TV One and MSNBC, the only 24-hour news network carrying it.

CNN declined to run the ad and Fox News Channel wasn't asked, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a respected trade newspaper.


CBS has dropped its freshman series, The Ex List, after a month of dismal ratings on Fridays at 8 p.m. For the next two weeks, its replacement will be NCIS repeats.

Fox's Do Not Disturb was the first new fall series canceled, followed by ABC's Opportunity Knocks. NBC's little-watched America's Toughest Jobs, which premiered in late summer, also is history after Saturday's finale.

TV Bulletin Board (Oct. 27)

New parents Will Arnett, Amy Poehler; Law & Order's Sam Waterston

Live from New York, Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler and husband Will Arnett had their first child just a few hours before the show went on Saturday night.

Their baby boy, Archie, arrived the night after Poehler had shared the "Weekend Update" desk with Seth Meyers on SNL's last of three live Thursday broadcasts.

"Amy Poehler is not here tonight because she is having a baby," Meyers told a cheering audience on Saturday's show, hosted by Mad Men's Jon Hamm.

The new arrival officially ends Poehler's tenure with SNL. She's become one of the show's all-time standout female cast members after joining SNL in 2001. Now, as planned, Poehler will be on maternity leave with her new son before beginning work at some point next year on a planned new NBC comedy series being developed by the creative team behind The Office.

***NBC also announced a few shuffles in its ratings-starved prime-time lineup.

Beginning on Nov. 5, Law & Order will return earlier than previously announced for a 19th season that was supposed to start in January.

L&O will be on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (central), with incumbent Lipstick Jungle shifting to Fridays at 8 p.m. following the network's freshman series Crusoe.

The second year series Life will move from Fridays to Wednesdays at 8 p.m., following NBC's first-year Knight Rider series.

The Peacock also announced that Momma's Boys, a reality series co-produced by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, will premiere on Thursday, Dec. 16th following the season finale of The Biggest Loser.

After that, Momma's Boys will wander over to Mondays at 8 p.m., taking Heroes' slot after that series ends its "current volume," says NBC.

NBC entertainment co-chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff said the shuffles "will play to the shows' mutual strengths and will help us to reinforce our lineup."

You could almost feel their shoulders sag, even via a printed press release. It's going to be yet another long, marrow-sapping season for the Peacock, whose hottest entertainment show is in late-night. That would be the aforementioned Saturday Night Live, which premiered in 1975.

NBC's prime-time schedule for that fall included just three series that would end up in the 1975-'76 season's Top 30. Namely Sanford and Son (No. 7), Chico and the Man (No. 25) and Police Woman (No. 30).

This season so far is shaping up to be possibly even worse.

TV Bulletin Board (Oct. 21)

Michael C. Hall appropriately glowers as serial killer Dexter Morgan.

Citing its killer ratings and critical acclaim, Showtime has renewed America's favorite -- and only -- serial killer drama for fourth and fifth seasons.

That would be Dexter, currently in its third season as the pay cable network's all-time biggest draw. Last month's season premiere "surpassed three million viewers," says Showtime. That's a monster hit for a network that until recent years was hard-pressed to attract even one million watchers of anything it aired.

Michael C. Hall, who came to fame in HBO's Six Feet Under, stars as Dexter Morgan, described in a Showtime publicity release as "a complicated and conflicted blood-spatter expert for the Miami police department who also moonlights as a serial killer."

Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt says, "I thought at best we would attract a devoted cult audience but soon realized that ironically this show is so thematically rich and layered with humanity that audiences of all kinds have flocked to it."

Just don't imitate Dexter at home -- or anywhere for that matter. Seasons 4 and 5 each will have 12 episodes.

On a decidedly lesser note, NBC has given its new Knight Rider series a full-season order.

***Dan Rather will be back in the saddle on election night.

His home on the range is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's HDNet, which will offer live coverage of the Nov. 4th reckoning day between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Start time is 6 p.m. (central), with Rather joined at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum by campaign strategists Donald Fowler, Jr. and Todd Harris.

"This coverage will be different than what the mainstream media will be offering," Rather says in a publicity release. "We'll go beyond the numbers and soundbites to discuss the projections for the evening and what the results will mean."

Actually, the other guys will be doing that, too. But Rather has the great equalizer in any "Dan-isms" he might put in play. On Election Night 2004, Rather either regaled or repulsed CBS viewers with one-liners such as "This race is hotter than a Times Square Rolex" and "Bush is sweeping through the South like a big wheel through a cotton field."

He otherwise anchors the weekly Dan Rather Reports on HDNet.

Meanwhile, The CW is priding itself on being "the only network airing regular programming on election night." Namely, that's "shortened" new episodes of 90210 and Privileged, each of which will make room for two "local election updates."

The CW's release is headlined, "It's the Programming, Stupid." Or, perhaps more to the point, "It's the Stupid Programming."

***Country Music Television (CMT) intends to capture the true meaning of the holiday season with Larry the Cable Guy's Star Studded Christmas Extravaganza.

You can either watch this 90-minute "throwback to the old-school holiday variety show" on Nov. 21st or buy it to treasure and keep when the DVD hits stores just three days latter.

Larry's scheduled guests include Terry Bradshaw, Toby Keith, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Lewis Black, Tony Orlando, Joey Fatone, Fred Willard and North Texas' own Terry Fator, the ventriloquist who won last year's America's Got Talent on NBC.

VH1 aired L the C's Christmas show last year.

TV Bulletin Board (Oct. 20)

Former Mav Dennis Rodman and ex-Cowboy Herschel Walker

NBC hasn't officially announced anything yet, but the latest issue of TV Guide names the new 16-member crew for next year's Celebrity Apprentice 2.

Among those spotted during taping of the show in New York were former Dallas Maverick Dennis Rodman and ex-Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker.

Hmm. Walker revealed that he suffers from multiple personality disorder in his recently published autobiography. And Rodman already is infamous for displaying numerous personalities both on-and off-court. So maybe they'll get along famously.

Rodman and Walker reportedly will mix and match with the likes of Melissa and Joan Rivers, Andrew Dice Clay, Tom Green, Clint Black and Scott Hamilton. Wow, the star power is overwhelming. Oddly enough, there's also an almost overpowering odor of of has-been B.O.

***ABC's Ashton Kutcher-produced Opportunity Knocks has joined Fox's Do Not Disturb in the fall season's cancellation corral. In their short previous lives, both were exciting new series.

At the other end of the teeter-totter, CBS has picked up its new The Mentalist for a full season.

***The Republican ticket at least is doing very well on broadcast network comedy shows.

VP nominee Sarah Palin's guest appearance on NBC's Oct. 18th Saturday Night Live propelled the show to its highest Nielsen numbers since March 12, 1994, according to invariably accurate "overnight" measurements from 56 TV markets (including Dallas-Fort Worth).

That 1994 show was hosted by U.S. Winter Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, with Aretha Franklin as the musical guest.

Also last week, John McCain's make-good appearance Thursday on Late Show with David Letterman
propelled the CBS program to its best rating since Dec. 1, 2005, when Michael Richards apologized for racial remarks made at a Hollywood comedy club.

McCain also helped Letterman score a rare win over Jay Leno's Tonight Show, which welcomed Democratic vp nominee Joe Biden. Letterman's 6.5 million viewers swamped Leno's 4.8 million.