Going home to Archie's old house

TURNED ON IN L.A. -- Spring Preview

January 13, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

We all know where Archie Bunker's chair is -- in the Smithsonian.

Now, CBS is going to take us back to Queens to show us who's living in Archie's old house at 704 Hauser.

That's the premise of "704 Hauser," a new sitcom from Norman Lear set to debut on CBS in March, after the Olympics.

The occupants of Archie's old house are Ernest and Rose Cumberbatch and their son, Thurgood Marshall Cumberbatch -- an African-American family.

Ernest (John Amos) is a "blue-collar liberal and veteran of the civil rights battles of the '60s," according to Lear.

The producer says Ernest and Rose (Lynnie Godfrey) named Thurgood (T. E. Russell) after one of their heroes. But the young man is "turning out to be an ultra-conservative whose hero is Clarence Thomas."

Did I mention that Thurgood has what CBS describes as an "idealistic and vocal Jewish girlfriend"? She's played by Moira Tierney.

Sound like a Lear household yet?

End of the 'Road'

It's official. Charles Kuralt says his "On the Road" days are over.

Kuralt, 59, met with critics to promote the 15th anniversary of "Sunday Morning," which will air on CBS Feb. 6.

When asked if he was ever going to resume "On the Road," his popular reports from a motor home traveling cross country, Kuralt said, "We still have the CBS "On the Road" motor home sitting in a garage in Chicago waiting for me. But life does seem to have moved on from there. . . . I guess I am permanently off the road."

Tim Reid on the rebound

Tim Reid, one-time star of "Frank's Place," is coming back this spring in "Sister, Sister," an ABC sitcom from Suzanne de Passe, who produced "Lonesome Dove" and "The Jacksons: An American Story."

Reid co-stars with Jackee Harry and child actors Tia and Tamera Mowry. The twin girls get most of the best lines in the pilot.

Does Reid mind?

"This is my ninth series. . . . I just want to be on a show that lasts longer than 22 episodes. I don't care how it works out."

Left out

It's true, CBS News wants Rush Limbaugh for a new prime-time magazine set to debut this spring.

'Yes, we are talking to Rush Limbaugh about a possible commentary role on the magazine," CBS News President Eric Ober said. "The reason we are talking to Rush Limbaugh is because he has strong points of view on a variety of issues and he has an enormous following."

So does Howard Stern, Eric.

The numbers might lie

Who's No. 1?

That's the question ABC is asking loud and hard in an attempt to change the perception that CBS is No. 1 in prime-time ratings and ABC is No. 2.

Nielsen ratings show that CBS has the largest average number of households tuned in each week, 12.1 million to ABC's 11.9 million.

But ABC has more viewers on average each week, 18.7 million to 18.5 million. How can that be?

Nielsen's People Meters now measure viewership within each house. And, because ABC has more families watching, it has more people.

"As we all know, it's people who watch television, not households," says Peter Chrisanthopoulos, executive vice president for research and reigning spin doctor at ABC.

Chrisanthopoulos is right; the household rating is archaic now that we have the technology to count eyeballs. But don't look for the standard to change soon.

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