`Ark' rode ratings tidal wave

Sweeps: Nielsen numbers show that almost one-third of all television sets were tuned in to the start of NBC's biblical miniseries

Radio and Television

May 05, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Air it during sweeps, and they will come.

Nowhere was that better demonstrated than this past weekend, when Part 1 of NBC's near-universally panned "Noah's Ark" (The Sun's David Zurawik called it a bomb, and that was one of his nicer terms) garnered enough viewers to make it the most-watched film to air on TV this season.

Nielsen numbers give Noah and his rain a 20.9 rating, 32 share (which means nearly one-third of all TV sets in use Sunday night were helping spread Noah-mania throughout the land).

The network estimates some 50 million people tuned in to watch Jon Voight's Noah make light conversation with the Almighty.

Kinda makes you shudder, doesn't it?

But perhaps the fear has only just started.

The networks have a bunch of other wonderful (or should that be woeful?) sweeps fare slated for the next few weeks.

Well, let's not be too judgmental. Some of this may be good. Among the potential must-sees:

"Cleopatra," May 23 and 24 on ABC. Here's betting Leonor Varel makes us long for the days when Elizabeth Taylor and Claudette Colbert were playing the Queen of the Nile.

"The Jesse Ventura Story," May 23 on NBC. I understand CSPAN will be counter-programming with live coverage of the Minnesota legislature. I know which one I'll watch

"The Nanny," starring the Woman With the Most Annoying Voice In the World, airs its final episode May 19 on CBS. Finally, a reason to celebrate!

The once-proud "Mad About You," its audience declining precipitously, finally winds down May 24 on NBC. If only the show had ended its run two years ago.

"Atomic Train," about a runaway locomotive carrying atomic weapons, graces TV screens May 16 and 17 on NBC.

Here's hoping the world survives (the train, that is even the worst TV won't bring about the End of the World).

And proving that euthanasia isn't always permanent, CBS reprises "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" in a TV movie May 22.

Videos you love to hate

Hey, anyone can make a show about the world's greatest music videos.

But Saturday on MTV, the other half gets its turn to shine, as Jon Stewart, Denis Leary and Janeane Garofalo offer their thoughts on some of the worst examples of music-put-to-video ever inflicted on unsuspecting audiences.

"25 Lame," a countdown of the lamest of the lame, as chosen by viewers, begins at 1 p.m.

When it's over, the 10 lamest videos will be placed in a time capsule and never seen again (at least not as a group). Among the possible really bad stuff: videos from Debbie Gibson ("Electric Youth"), Aqua ("Barbie Girl"), Don Johnson ("Heartbeat"), Nelson ("After the Rain") and Ace of Base ("The Sign").

Hey, where's Pat Benatar and "Love Is a Battlefield"?

A Baltimore guide

At least there's always radio. Friday on "The Marc Steiner Show," authors Carolyn Males and Carol Rolnick are scheduled to talk about their book, "Wish You Were Here: A Guide to Baltimore City for Natives and Newcomers." Might be fun for even us long-termers to see what we've been missing in Charm City all these years.

Males and Rolnick are slated for the first half of Steiner's show, which airs noon-2 p.m. weekdays on WJHU-FM (88.1).

Dan wants to meet Mom

Mom and Dan Rodricks -- is this an unbeatable combination or what?

Sunday on "Rodricks for Breakfast" (10 a.m.-noon, WMAR, Channel 2), Dan invites y'all to bring Mom to the WMAR studios for a Mother's Day show (call 410-372-2655 for tickets).

And what can she look forward to? There's the Orpheum's George Figgs revealing more of his picks for the greatest films of the century, the Pratt Library's Carla Hayden doing the same for books, a performance from Dame's Rocket and a new Harborplace gawker game, "What's My Gig?"

Comedian Winters honored

Jonathan Winters, a fixture on the American comedy scene since the 1950s, has been chosen to receive the second annual Mark Twain Prize for outstanding contributions to American humor.

Winters, whose manic style helped pave the way for people like Robin Williams, will be feted at a performance gala scheduled for October at Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The event will be taped for broadcast on Comedy Central in January 2000 (potential Y2K difficulties notwithstanding).

TV's top shows

Here are last week's top TV shows, according to A. C. Nielsen Co. figures:


1 Sunday Night Movie: Noah's Ark Part I NBC 20.9

2 ER NBC 18.6

3 Frasier NBC 15.1

4 Friends NBC 13.9

5 Touched by an Angel CBS 12.7

6 60 Minutes CBS 12.5

7 Veronica's Closet NBC 12.3

8 Will & Grace NBC 12.1

9 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 11.1

10 Ally McBeal NBC 11.0

11 NYPD Blue ABC 10.8

12 20/20-Wednesday NBC 10.4

13 Dateline, Monday NBC 9.9

13 (tie) JAG CBS 9.9

15 Sunday Movie: The First Wives Club CBS 9.8

16 Becker CBS 9.4

17 Dateline, Wednesday NBC 9.2

17 Law & Order NBC 9.2

17 (tie) The Practice ABC 9.2

20 Dateline, Tuesday NBC 9.1

The rating is the percentage of homes equipped with a TV in use.

Pub Date: 5/05/99

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