O'Brien's nightly stamp has been first-class one

RADIO-TV JHC LbB

February 16, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Look out, Arsenio. Move over, Dennis. Late night has another entrant into the hip host race -- CBS' Pat O'Brien.

O'Brien's half-hour updates at 11:30 p.m. are more than just a showcase for his fine wardrobe. The show carries his stamp, an almost matter-of-fact approach that fits the time slot well. O'Brien's droll, light approach also is welcome after the prime-time show, which generally takes a more serious, reverent look at the Games.

And you've got to love a show that features self-billed "rock 'n' roll highlights."

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Robertsled, but my friends call me bob: Did you notice -- how could you not? -- that the John 3:16 franchise is in France? Someone holding up a sign advertising the Biblical passage was strategically placed at the end of the bobsled run. . . . When the Puerto Rican bobsledders flipped during yesterday afternoon's

telecast, somebody apparently tossed a net onto the track toward the end, maybe to slow the sled. Neither Sean McDonough nor John Morgan offered an explanation.

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When the going gets rich, the skaters turn amateur: During a feature on Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning yesterday, CBS detailed how endorsements and other business ventures have allowed him to earn millions. Browning even spoke of his millions and being an amateur in the same breath. That one set off the irony alarm in my house.

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Aim high: Before the United States scored against Poland during yesterday's hockey game, analyst John Davidson said the Polish goalie was going to the ice on nearly every shot, so U.S. players should shoot high. Though the first American goal came on a low shot, the second score was on a backhand lifted over the Polish goalie.

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Looking ahead: CBS has nine hours of Olympics programming today, but the network isn't saying what kinds of features it has planned to complement the coverage. There will be plenty of live hockey, though, with Czechoslovakia-Switzerland during the morning show (9-noon) and Canada-Unified Team during the afternoon (3:30-6). . . . This morning's program also will feature live speed skating, the men's 1,500 meters with American Eric Flaim. . . . Among the things CBS is saving for tonight (8-11) are ice dancing, men's Super-G slalom and ski jumping.

Ratings game: CBS has won every prime-time night during the Olympics so far, something that ABC didn't do in 1988. During the Calgary Games, ABC won the first five nights, but CBS is 7-for-7.

In Friday night's overnight ratings (measuring the top 25 markets), CBS pulled an 18.0 rating and 30 share, ABC was at 11.7/20 and NBC at 10.0/17. CBS' national ratings were 16.8/30 (national ratings generally are lower), marking the first night that the network has been under the 17.0 average it has promised advertisers. A rating measures the percentage of television

households watching a program. A share measures the percentage among homes where television is in use.

CBS is averaging 19.1/25 for the first seven nights, 4 percent

higher than ABC's seven-night average in 1988.

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