'THE WEST WING'
Wednesday night's special episode of "The West Wing," which addressed issues of terrorism and racial profiling, attracted the second-largest audience ever for NBC's White House drama.
The network said the episode -- written by series creator Aaron Sorkin and produced in less than three weeks -- drew 24.55 million viewers. The season premiere, a two-hour special, drew 25.05 million viewers.
"This is one of those mornings when it feels great to be a broadcaster," said NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker in a statement issued Thursday. "We are thrilled by the fact that millions of families gathered around their televisions to watch such an intelligent and thought-provoking program."
Airing immediately after "The West Wing," the Emmy-winning drama "Law & Order" attracted the largest audience in its 12-year history. NBC said 22.7 million viewers tuned in to the show.
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
Ray Romano will donate all of the proceeds from the sale of his debut comedy album to the September 11th Fund.
"Ray Romano -- Live At Carnegie Hall" was already scheduled for an Oct. 2 release (by Columbia Records) when the events of Sept. 11 took place. Romano decided to dedicate all of his proceeds from the album to this charity -- making this an additional way for his fans purchasing the CD to contribute to the relief effort.
Recorded live at the Toyota Comedy Festival at New York's Carnegie Hall, the album is the first full-length CD from the star of the CBS sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."
(Web site: columbiarecords.com)
A grassroots, online campaign has sprung up in support of Bill Maher. And on Thursday, "Support Bill Maher" (at MillionFlagMarch.com/bill/) delivered messages in support of the "Politically Incorrect" host from more than 6,000 people to executives with ABC, Sears and FedEx.
The campaign --- launched Sept. 25 -- comes in response to the decisions of several ABC affiliates to drop Maher's show and of Sears and FedEx to end sponsorship of the program. Those moves, in turn, came in response to a controversy in which out-of-context remarks by Maher were misinterpreted as supporting the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attack and denigrating the U.S. military.
"There's a belief among some that Maher was somehow praising the terrorists, but anyone who's actually seen the episode or read the transcript quickly sees how absurd that belief is," said campaign co-founder John Hlinko. "Even if you're not a fan of Maher, you've got to admit that it's incredibly unfair to punish a guy for something he didn't do. If Sears, FedEx and the ABC affiliates choose to continue meting out punishment that isn't deserved, that's their choice -- but it'll be our choice to respond to this unfairness by taking our business elsewhere."
The high school drama "Boston Public" passed its freshman year with flying colors as the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, Calif., awarded the Fox TV series a Pink Lung during the fifth annual Phlemmy Awards.
The show, which debuted last fall, was honored for portraying an inner-city school with all of its problems but absolutely no tobacco.
Meanwhile, an episode of the WB's "For Your Love" filled with cigar smoke received a Phlemmy Award.
A Pink Lung also was awarded to CBS's "Diagnosis Murder" while additional Phlemmys went to Fox's "Ally McBeal" and "The Hughleys" on UPN.
The Phlemmy Awards, a takeoff on the Emmys, and their sister program, the Hackademy Awards, are part of the Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! project of the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. The idea is to influence the entertainment industry to reduce the number of glamorous portrayals of tobacco use.
(Web site: saclung.org)
The Berlin Philharmonic opened Carnegie Hall's 111th season Wednesday night with a concert of Beethoven and Mahler and a statement of support to New Yorkers recovering from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center -- "Ich bin ein New Yorker."
"We have come to America at a time of great anguish and sorrow," the musicians from Germany said in a statement. "We come as a reaffirmation of our common humanity, which is so deeply expressed in the music of these concerts. John F. Kennedy once said at a critical moment in Berlin's history, 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' At this terrible moment, we are the ones who say with you, 'We are all New Yorkers.'"
The philharmonic is on a concert tour throughout the United States to Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Costa Mesa, Calif.
(Thanks to UPI's William M. Reilly in New York)