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Everything's a game of numbers...

Today is

Fight Night - April 13

I've got a challenge for you readers in the Weekly Rant segment... Put on your thinking caps for this one. But first...

Last night was classic Numbers Game fodder... Four shows on at the same time - CBS' "The Amazing Race", NBC's "Deal or No Deal", Fox's "American Idol", and UPN's "America's Next Top Model" - with four different audience targets. So what happens when they get into the same ring together? Battle royale!

American Idol vs. Deal or No Deal

We start with the two biggest candidates, and arguably the most interesting cases... the first half-hour of "American Idol" vs. the last half-hour of "Deal or No Deal." This is an interesting story, as such a case has never happened until last night. Fox may be thinking that an overexposed "Deal" would have chinks in its armor at which it could hammer away. Could this be an easy takedown? Or will it be a case of two titans swinging their clubs at each other at the same time with impact at the same time and the eventual simultaneous stumble?

Now, I'm a big fan of both shows, I will admit. As a big fan of both shows, I posed this question to my good friend (and well documented "Deal or No Deal" fan) Alex Davis over at Buzzer, and he went with the latter. I agree with him. But this was before figures came in. And since this column is devoted to the search for truth, we'll have to prove this hypothesis one way or another...

So here's what we have... On average, Deal or No Deal's Miss USA show scored 8.8/14 in the overnights, 13.02 million viewers and 4.0/12 among adults 18-49, all first for the hour. Last week, the household overnight was a 9.4/15.

American Idol's hour-long fillerfest came in with this from 8:30p to 9:32p: 14.0/21 in the overnights, 21.83 million viewers and an 8.9/23 among adults 18-49 from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Last week, the show scored a 17.3/25 in the overnights.

So there you go. Both networks hit each other hard... The end result... both are stumbling. So there you go then. Proof positive that Idol and Deal can't inhabit the same house and be friends. Walk it off, you two...

The Battle for Everything Else...

So what did this grand fight mean for "The Amazing Race" and "America's Next Top Model"? One word... erosion.

Last week, "The Amazing Race" scored a 5.3/8 in the time period, better than anything CBS put in that time period before, but still nothing worth writing home about. Last night, a 5.2/8. More proof that CBS shouldn't have tampered with that time slot to begin with. Stupid network.

Corporate sibling UPN didn't fare any better as Howie and Seacrest leeched some of Tyra's base from "America's Next Top Model". Last week, the show scored a below-average 3.9/6 in the overnights, 4.24 million viewers and a 2.0/6 among adults 18-49, all for fifth. Last week, it was still fifth, but with a healthier 4.5/7. I don't know, something about Tyra fainting on cue just does something...

The kicker? It's still the most popular show on the network outside of "Smackdown". If it isn't on the CW next fall, then... I don't know.

And the less said about the hemorrhaging and time-dependent "hit" "Unan1mous" (7.4/11 from the 8.9/13 it posted last week), the better. At this rate, I fully expect no one to come to a decision by the show's series finale in May.

An Ultimate Start for "Fighter"

While we're on the subject of fighting, we can't pass by without a look at Spike's ultimate hit, "The Ultimate Fighter 3." The opener of the UFC production smashed already existing records in the network's target demo, scoring almost 1 million viewers in the males 18-34 bracket and 2.3 million viewers over all, sending all oncomers (golf on USA and the NBA on TNT) back to their mamas.

But back to that almost 1 million in the demo. That, according to the network's release, was better than anything on television that time period. I tend to agree. After all, have you ever looked at a schedule and found anything worth watching at 10p? ER's getting old... "Without a Trace" is beginning to lose its charm... and "South Park"? Watched it yesterday. The Family Guy/Muhammad episodes were brilliant, but I digress.

Other notable places: the show delivered #1 in households (1.95), average audience (2.4 million), men 25-34 (5.03, 758,000), men 18-49 (2.70, 1,411,000), and persons 18-49 (1.67, 1,794,000), among ad-supported cable channels.

It was also the biggest draw in Spike TV history in both total audience and in demographics.

It outpointed last year's performer "MXC" by 236% in households, 429% in men 18-49, 395% in men 18-34, and 262% in average audience.

Now, I know that most network heads will spend time on spin control, but as I look to what network head Kevin Kay has to say, I can't help but think that when the truth comes out and it turns out to be a positive, that people are actually speechless. "It's a great start to Season 3 which promises to be the best one yet with the intense rivalry between Ken and Tito and an incredible crop of fearless athletes," Kay said. Added Dana White, "The momentum continues to build which is really exciting for us. We were confident people would respond to the sport of mixed martial arts once they got to know the professional athletes who participate in it. Stay tuned, it's going to be a great season."

Well, at least he proved that THEY was watching. And could you blame them? It's actually incredible storytelling.

In the syndies...

Of the three syndicated games that weren't in reruns for the week ending April 2, "Wheel of Fortune" scores a 9.0 with 9.9 million viewers, while "Jeopardy!" was second with 7.2 and 7.9 million viewers. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" broke into the top 15 with a 3.4 showing, translating into 3.7 million viewers.

The Weekly Rant, or .... HIT THE LAST ONE!!!!

Now it's time for a little interactivity... Thinking caps on, everyone? Good.

The old saying goes, "You never forget your first."

Bob Barker was a DJ when he was called to host "Truth or Consequences".

A pre-Idol Ryan Seacrest was also a DJ when he was selected as host of "Gladiators 2000".

Pat Sajak is still hosting his first show, "Wheel of Fortune".

Before he was stuck on an island with 18 less desirables, Pretty Boy Probst was playing a younger, hipper Alex Trebek on "Rock & Roll Jeopardy!" while moonlighting as a correspondent for "Access Hollywood."

Frank Nicotero and John O'Hurley were into the acting gig when they got the call to host.

And Meredith Vieira got an Emmy for her first as host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

The backstory of the game show emcee is as varied as the fraternity of game show emcees itself. Some, like Peter Tomarken when he signed on for "Hitman", were virtual unknowns. Others, like Howie Mandel of "Deal or No Deal" and Donny Osmond of "Pyramid", were already established in other realms of show business. But the fact remains that when the right format meets up with the right person, established or no, magic happens.

Which brings into question... who has never hosted a game show before... but could?

I've been swelling upon this for a while now, and could only come up with two names that stand out in my mind as being quick-witted enough to take on the job, and one that, while not quick witted, has enough wit in him and a little bit of experience.

So here I present Joel McHale for any upcoming quizzer on Comedy Central, because he can usually build off the unexpected with comedic result as evidenced by his plays on E!'s "The Soup" (that and the fact that everyone at the 'net thinks that he's bloody brilliant), Richard Hammond for any format that requires a host to be a) a knowledgeable British bastard, or b) a downright man's man, because - and anyone who's ever seen BBC/Discovery's "Top Gear" and SkyOne/G4's "Brainiac" can attest - he is a man's man and can play a bastard if he wants to (which, if memory serves, is often), and Christian Finnegan for ... well, anything that VH1 can come up with, because of his prior experience hosting TV Land's "Playtime" segments and his penchant for being sheepish on some subjects and not-so for others.

DL Hughley also has a demeanor suitable for a game host... but he's not on my list due to the fact that he hosted the "Liar" pilot for CBS.

I posed this question to my colleagues and the Game Show Man Joe Van Ginkel (who evidently know more about this matter than I do... heh), and this is what he had to say....

"Here's one off the board...

Alvin "Xzhibit" Joiner, host of MTV's Pimp My Ride, one of the few shows on that (^_^)ty network worth watching."

X to the Z hosting a G to the S. Nice thought. But that's just what we think. What do you think makes a good emcee, and what person whose yet to step up to the podium has those? I want your input! Please e-mail me your thoughts on this subject of "Who Hasn't Hosted a Game Show... But Should?" The candidates you send forward will be featured in a future Numbers Game column.

Chico Alexander wanted to host "Blockbusters" back in 1987. He welcomes all submissions to chico@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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