People & Entertainment

PEOPLE & ENTERTAINMENT

December 22, 2008|By From Sun news services

New network outpulls its old rival CW

For the past three weeks, the upstart My Network TV has accomplished something that would have been considered unthinkable just two years ago.

The network, quickly cobbled together by a group of Fox-owned local stations after the 2006 merger of the WB and UPN into the new CW left abandoned stations with nothing to put on the air, has averaged more prime-time viewers than the CW.

My Network TV is the only one of the six English-speaking broadcast networks to grow this season. Its average of 1.76 million viewers each night is up 750,000 from last season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

New rules for inmates

The death of R&B singer Sean Levert in Cleveland has led to a proposed new policy that provides more flexibility in giving inmates their anti-anxiety medication.

The member of the 1980s R&B trio LeVert and son of lead O'Jays singer Eddie Levert died March 30 after becoming ill at Cleveland's Cuyahoga County jail.

The jail administrator and a jail doctor proposed the change to allow inmates to get their prescribed medication as soon as their prescriptions are verified.

New boost for old songs

"This song is dedicated to Debbie Harry," flinty-eyed Lisa Hsuan purrs into a microphone on the red-lit stage of Hyperion Tavern. It's a cozy dive where patrons drink Coke and beer from bottles and a fading chandelier dangles overhead.

Her tribute is intentionally ludicrous: The 30-year-old veterinarian is about to belt out "Call Me," which Harry - fronting the group Blondie - released 28 years ago. Accompanied on fake guitars and drums by three Web programmers Hsuan launches in as a smoke machine puffs nearby.

They're playing the video game Rock Band 2, which along with Guitar Hero is rocking bars and living rooms across the country. Many songs' sales have more than doubled after release in one of the games, and well-known bands have started lining up to provide new music direct to the game makers. Now record labels - noticing what they are missing, and struggling as compact disc sales tumble - are looking for a bigger piece of the action.

Aerosmith made more money off the June release of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith than either of its last two albums, according to Kai Huang, co-founder of RedOctane, which first developed Guitar Hero.

"The kind of exposure that artists can get through the Guitar Hero platform is huge," said Huang, who remains RedOctane's president, after it and the Guitar Hero franchise were taken over by Activision Blizzard Inc. in 2006. Rock Band, meanwhile, is made by Viacom Inc.'s MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts Inc.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS

Former House Speaker Jim Wright, 86.

Actor Hector Elizondo, 72.

ABC News correspondent Diane Sawyer, 63.

Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen, 62.

Actor Ralph Fiennes, 46.

Singer Jordin Sparks, 19.

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