Visa, General Motors, Anheuser-Bush and Frito-Lay are paying some $12 million each to sponsor CBS' "Survivor: The Australian Outback," which makes its debut on Jan. 28 after Super Bowl XXXV. That's three times the amount advertisers paid to sponsor the original "Survivor." WE LOVE BRITNEY AND 'N SYNC! Nickelodeon will air exclusive interviews with Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore on Thursday as "Nick News Special Edition: Kids Pick the President," Daily Variety reports today. Linda Ellerbee presided over the interviews with the two major presidential candidates.
HENSON TRADITION WAGES ON: Variety also reports that Brian Henson, chairman of the Jim Henson Co., will make his TV miniseries directing debut with "Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story" for CBS. Production is slated to begin in London within the next few months.
RETURN TO 'PRETENDER': TNT is airing two TV movies that will resolve the cliffhanger season finale of "The Pretender," the four-year-old series starring Michael T. Weiss that was axed by NBC, according to Variety. The movies serve to cross-promote reruns of the show, also on TNT.
Much like Super Bowl XXXV, last week's Nielsen race was a blowout.
According to Nielsen Media Research, for the week of Jan. 22 - 28, the Eye Network snagged a total-viewer average of 21.3 million, with Sunday's Super Bowl raking in a whopping 84.3 million. The premiere of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" brought in 45.3 million -- better than industry analysts expected.
The CBS surge last week decreased ABC's established margin of dominance over the other networks: CBS had trailed ABC by 12%; now, CBS trails by only 6%, according to Nielsen.
And CBS isn't stopping there.
In addition to the network's one-two punch on Super Bowl Sunday, the CBS enjoyed curiously high ratings later in the week, as the Monday sitcoms "Everybody Loves Raymond," "King of Queens" and "Yes, Dear" saw their best ratings to date. Yes, shameless plugging during the Super Bowl worked.
According to Nielsen statistics, CBS' stellar ratings week boasted the largest viewership since NBC premiered the 2000 Summer Olympics last September.
Rapper Eminem and his wife, Kimberly Mathers, have reconciled after months of very public sparring, Reuters reports.
Em and his wife, who attempted suicide in July while the rapper was in concert, signed an agreement Wednesday in a Michigan court to dismiss their respective divorce petitions.
The couple, both in their mid-20s, have been together since their teens. They will continue to share their home with their 4-year-old daughter in Clinton Township, Mich.
Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP" is one of the most popular and controversial albums releases of the year.
AND WHO WAS WORRIED ABOUT NAPSTER? Critics, Napster and numerous entertainment options aside, music sales increased this year in large part to the nation's voracious appetite for teen pop, USA Today reports.
Combined sales for the 200 best-selling albums this year totaled 240.5 million copies, up 6.5% from 225.9 million in the same period a year ago, according to SoundScan. Overall sales, regardless of format, chart placement or genre, hit 687.7 million, up 4.2% from 1999.
Leading the charge was 'N Sync's "No Strings Attached" with 9.2 million copies. The Top Five after the boy band: Eminem, Britney Spears, Santana and Creed.
OH SAY CAN YOU SEE: The Backstreet Boys will perform the National Anthem as part of the pre-game ceremonies for Super Bowl XXXV, the National Football League announced Thursday.
The upcoming Super Bowl will be the first ever with two songs performed before the first quarter. Ray Charles will perform "America the Beautiful" before BSB sings "The Star-Spangled Banner."
CBS will air Super Bowl XXXV beginning at 6 p.m. ET on Jan. 28.
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