Catching up on the headlines:
Idol Worship: It's a testament to the popularity of "American Idol" that ratings on WUTV have increased substantially even without a local performer like last season's John Stevens IV.
According to station officials, the local Fox affiliate is averaging close to a 20 rating this season for "Idol," which is 6.2 percent higher than it was in Stevens' year and 17.3 percent higher than the Fox national average of 17.3.
Of course, Stevens made it to the final six, so comparisons could suffer somewhat for a few weeks. The current edition of "Idol" is down to nine.
Demo Dominance: While the national ratings attention focuses on the age 18 through 49 demographic, local sales focus more on the age 25 through 54 demographic, and that's good news for WIVB-TV. According to Channel 4 researcher Bob Gallivan, News 4 was No. 1 in all newscasts in that demographic in February by its largest margin ever. There was some good news for WGRZ-TV at 11 p.m. It won the age 18 through 49 demographic over News 4 by a slim margin.
Things went so badly over at Channel 7 in February that General Manager Bill Ransom had to deal with rumors that the station was considering dropping the 5 p.m. newscast. "We're not discontinuing our 5 p.m. newscast," said Ransom. "It is one of those rumors that doesn't even deserve printing."
Ransom said the station's ratings slide began in 2000 when the market began being rated by meters. "We will turn it around," said Ransom. "As we continue to get help from ABC, the numbers will start turning around."
Tru Story About UB: The return of the canceled Fox series "Tru Calling" to the network's Thursday lineup is enabling students of University at Buffalo instructor Parry Shen to see him practice what he preaches. Shen plays Tyler, one of the medical students that Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku) was bonding with when she wasn't rewinding days to help out corpses. Shen's first appearance was last Thursday, and he'll also appear this Thursday and on April 28 when the show airs what appears to be a Christmas episode. Oh, well, with the snow on the ground around here, that doesn't sound all that silly.
Gail Berman, who recently left her job as the president of Fox Entertainment, told critics in January that "Tru" was dead because the network couldn't find a place to run it. The place materialized when "North Shore" and "Point Pleasant" bombed in a time slot after "The OC."
A 1995 graduate of UB, Shen reports that he is slated to teach at UB for 10 days starting June 13, and he'll also be teaching drama at the Buffalo Summer Institute at UB from July 25-29.
"Office" Report: After attending some NBC meetings in New York City recently, Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner reports the network appears prepared to be patient with its new comedy "The Office."
"It's a critical darling," said Toellner. "NBC expressed a lot of confidence in it."
Of course, being a critical darling doesn't always translate into a ratings hit. "Arrested Development," the Fox critical darling, still can't get arrested. It ends its second season run on April 17 and may be history.
NBC Universal is trying to get more eyeballs on "The Office" by running repeats on two of its cable channels, USA Network and CNBC.
Its first episode in its regular NBC Tuesday time slot did do better locally than another critical darling, "Scrubs," which serves as its lead-in. But that could just be because "The Office" has weak competition at 9:30 p.m.
"Deadwood" Lives On: In case you missed it, David Milch's Western was renewed by HBO for a third season of 12 episodes. With "Six Feet Under" ending and "Carnevale" the one HBO show that isn't a critical darling, HBO needs the bad guys of "Deadwood" badly.
"Desperate" Crawl: I knew I was back from vacation Sunday night when Channel 7 repeatedly ran crawls during "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" on top of the screen advising viewers that the New York State Thruway was closed near the Pennsylvania line due to weather issues. If I had planned to head that way late Sunday, I would have found the crawls more enlightening and less annoying.
"24" Gets Triple Exposure: If you missed last night's episode of Fox's nonstop series to watch the NCAA men's basketball final, be advised that Fox plans to rerun it Friday and Sunday. So anyone watching last night would be wise to keep the details to themselves.