TV stunts sure sign of November sweeps
November 19, 1997
Web posted at: 4:55 p.m. EST (2155 GMT)
From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester
HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- What would you do to increase your
personal value by hundreds, even thousands of dollars per
minute? As the networks jockey to increase their series'
worth this month, their answer is: Sing, dance, and shake
Advertiser rates are based on November's Nielsen ratings. To
make sure it clinches those ratings points, already highly
ranked "Seinfeld" is including a reverse "Seinfeld" in its
November lineup. The entire show will run backwards.
Big names juice things up
Meanwhile, Emma Thompson will play a gay character on ABC's
"Ellen." Ellen DeGeneres, the show's star and producer,
personally asked Thompson to appear.
"She said, 'Will you come, and you know, be gay on my show,'"
Thompson said. "And I said, I'd love to, I can't think of
anything more fun."
The timing of Thompson's appearance is no coincidence.
However, DeGeneres said, "I'd be just as happy if Emma was on
not a sweeps month. It doesn't matter, I just want the level
of my show to be like this every week."
On CBS's "The Nanny," Ray Charles will be romancing Fran
Drescher's Grandma Yetta. If viewers love the affair, May
sweeps could bring a wedding.
"We're going to milk it," Drescher said. "It'll take the
whole season, too, you know."
A little song-and-dance
Music is also a popular ploy this month. CBS started the
musical trend last week, as "The Drew Carey Show" offered a
"Full Monty" send-up. Although the cast from the hit movie
came to the shoot to offer a few tips, stripping in
prime-time is strictly of the PG variety -- a fact for which
Carey says he remains grateful.
"I don't even like to make out with the lights on," Carey
said. "Making love, the lights have to be totally dark,
maybe a candle, and now here I am showing my gross hairy fat
This week, NBC also plugged its Monday night lineup with
songs on every sitcom.
And, living by his motto that anything worth doing is worth
over-doing, John Lithgow will pay tribute to the Lord of the
Dance on this week's episode of his NBC sitcom "3rd Rock from
Will the shenanigans have an impact? So far, the critics are
underwhelmed -- but not turned off. "Usually it's shoot 'em
up, stab 'em up, sex 'em up kind of junk," said TV Guide's
Sweeps stunts on the drama side have been low-key. On the
NBC side, for example, "ER" left the emergency room for a
road show, and "Law & Order" and "Homicide: Life on the
Streets" mingled their stars between the two shows for a
two-part murder mystery.
But whether the muted grandstanding will win the networks
those elusive Nielsens is yet to be determined: So far, kids'
shows may be beating the sitcoms by a nose. The CBS special
"Kids Say the Darndest Things" and ABC's "Rodgers &
Hammerstein's Cinderella" are the ratings darlings this