Lots of hot and cold stars this TV season
Welcome back to the daily grind. Now that we've set personal records in time spent sitting through holiday specials and bowl games we don't care about, here now is a refresher course on who's hot and who's not in the world of media. Of course, the shelf life of the following could last as long as Paris Hilton's reading list or Regis Philbin's TV down time.
Hot: Martha Stewart, the TV star. She's still serving time but when she's sprung in a few months, she'll go right back to work hosting a new syndicated show that will be picked up by hundreds of stations around the country.
Not: Martha Stewart, the inmate. The diva of style came in second place in an interior decorating competition at the federal prison in Alderson, W. Va., where she is incarcerated. She also complained about the prison food, which is like guys watching 'The World Series of Poker' grousing about its dearth of recipes.
Still Hot: Ken Jennings, the $2.5 million winner on 'Jeopardy,' who now gets to return when the show puts on a special champions competition beginning next month. And what a coincidence that the ratings magnet will be appearing in February and, if he makes the finals, May, two all-important sweeps months.
Still Not: Mary Hart, the 'Entertainment Tonight' host, who saw her ratings plummet in Jennings' wake and now must relive her nightmare when the Salt Lake City software dude takes on all those other brainiacs. Hart's only hope is that Jennings might agree to a gig as co-host.
Hot: Craig Ferguson, the new host of the CBS 'Late Late Show,' taking over from Craig Kilborn, who left in August. The 42-year-old Scottish native figures his accent has helped in getting people to like him. Plus, this actor-writer-producer is funny. Obviously one of the prerequisites of hosting the show is that your name is Craig.
Not: Larry King of CNN's 'Larry King Live,' who looked just barely awake on his election night show and has been losing viewership right along with his energy. Now there's a CNN memo circulating that says King can't book news anchor people from other networks. What's next Ñ no more politicians or entertainers?
Hot: Les Moonves, chairman of CBS, who has seen the network's lead increase in prime time while making 'CSI' household initials. After his divorce became final recently, Moonves married Julie Chen of the CBS 'The Early Show,' whose job security now rivals Karl Rove's.
Not: Jeffrey Zucker, NBC entertainment chief, who has seen hit shows disappear ('Friends' and 'Frasier'), lose audience ('The Apprentice') and flop ('Joey' and 'LAX').
Hot: Marc Cherry, creator and executive producer of the new and wildly popular ABC show 'Desperate Housewives.' Unemployed for two years before making the pitch to the network, Cherry's project has revitalized the serialized drama form, so expect a wad of copycats next fall or even sooner.
Not: Jane Pauley, creator and executive producer of 'The Jane Pauley Show,' which got a bad start out of the gates this past fall and went downhill from there. A host of stations nationwide Ñ including Portland's KATU (2) Ñ have yanked the interview show from its late afternoon slot and buried it elsewhere.
Hot: Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw's successor on 'NBC Nightly News,' who many thought would drag down the ratings on the No. 1-rated network newscast. But while the program's numbers have dipped a tad, Williams hasn't caused fans to run away screaming. But I still wish he wouldn't yell Ñ OK, talk loudly Ñ as much while delivering the news.
Not: Ted Koppel of 'Nightline,' who it seems is absent more than he's on the air. But here's hoping ABC doesn't dump the grand interviewer or the show that revolutionized late-night TV.