TOO GOOD TO PASS UP FOR SWEEPS, OR IS IT A SIGNAL MOONVES WANTS TO GIVE JUNIOR "60 MINUTES" EDITION THE BOOT?
Since we still haven't moved to a 52-week TV season and ad buyers still look to sweeps to justify ponying up billions to the networks, a prime-time special on Wednesday where Dr. Phil interviews "The Insider" co-host Pat O'Brien about his stint in rehab for being a drunk and about some salacious voice mails he left appears to be a no-brainer.
But that can't be viewed as good news in the BMW Building on West 57th St., where "60 Minutes Wednesday" is bunkered.
The show is not exactly a ratings darling, going up against "Lost" and "American Idol." It also attracts some of the oldest demographics of any prime-time show, which translates into lower spot rates.
CBS head honcho Les Moonves hasn't decreed the program's fate yet. But the silence is getting increasingly deafening, and he may be off in some back room burnishing his machete. Keeping it off for a week during sweeps doesn't exactly help 60W's chances. Or does it?
60W can rise to the occasion for three weeks of its top-shelf material and make its case for survival. At this juncture, CBS may be looking for nothing more than a respectable showing, and some evidence that at least a few people ineligible for Medicare are tuning in.
Or, it could be a ratings Catch 22 to set 60W up for a fall. I can see it now. The show was canceled because it didn't get enough ratings. But it wasn't on enough to get ratings in the first place.
Of course, it doesn't make sense. You'd think that 60W would be eminently capable of interviewing Viacom-mate O'Brien without having to involve Dr. Phil, who just happens to be, like O'Brien, under contract to Paramount Television. But somehow I don't see Scott Pelley or Vicki Mabrey being inclined to give O'Brien some tough love and make him cry.
And, of course, they don't have a syndicated daytime show named after them on which, not coincidentally, O'Brien will make another appearance, this time with guests to discuss rehab.
Now it makes perfect sense.