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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

NBC is happy with how "The Voice" is doing.

OnMedia: "The Voice" vs. "Idol"


NBC has been looking for something, anything, that even resembles a ratings success since Jay Leno's prime-time show flopped last year.

It seems to have found it in "The Voice," the latest "reality" singing competition, airing at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Channel 4.

The sign of success isn't the nearly 12 million viewers counted by Nielsen Media Research for the April 26 premiere. It's the audience growth ever since. By last week it was 12.6 million, with a good share of the younger viewers advertisers are most interested in.

You can argue it's more of a singing competition than TV's continuing big dog, Fox's "American Idol." The celebs aren't "judges," they're "coaches."

And you're not seeing auditions from clunkers clearly brought in for entertainment value.

None of that is a critique of the successful "Idol" formula. But the key thing was to make the show different enough to stand out as something on its own.

We won't know until next week whether NBC is going to build its fall schedule around "The Voice," with its first season running through the end of June.

The Los Angeles Times' "Show Tracker" blog is speculating that NBC will hold off until January, and make the show a half-season effort, in the same way as "Idol."

Next fall, Fox is launching its own new (and heavily-hyped) singing competition, Simon Cowell's "X Factor," with the network confirming this week that Cowell's old "Idol" pal, Paula Abdul, would join him as a judge.

Nobody knows, of course, how well that show will do. And NBC, which is already running "The Voice" during "Idol" season, may just do the same thing next year.

On TV: Fox has cancelled five shows for next fall: "Human Target," "Breaking In" and "The Chicago Code," "Lie to Me" and "Traffic Light."

  • Meanwhile, Fox has ordered an eighth season of "House" for next fall. There had been some talk that the medical drama might end up on another network.
  • The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that billionaire Warren Buffett has been added to the guest list for the one-hour May 19 season finale of NBC's "The Office." He joins Ricky Gervais, Will Arnett, Jim Carrey, Ray Romano and James Spader.
  • If for some reason you've been waiting for the season premiere of CBS' "Big Brother," it starts July 7.
  • Sirius/XM Satellite radio says it will air the audio of Rosie O'Donnell's new TV daily show when it debuts this fall on Oprah Winfrey's OWN channel.
  • Discovery and NBC News have teamed up for "Killing Bin Laden," at 9 p.m. Sunday on Discovery Channel, which dissects the raid that climaxed in the death of Osama Bin Laden. CNN has its own offering "Inside the Mission: Getting Bin Laden" at 7 p.m. Sunday.

A questionable crossing of the line: Chicago media guru Robert Feder has a must-read piece at Time Out on the ethical questions raised by a bunch of Windy City news anchors appearing in a furniture company spot saying goodbye to long-time Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose term ends next week.

Here's a two-minute version of the commercial in question. You may not recognize many of the well-known Chicagoans, since the participants aren't identified. But they include a group of well-known news anchors from several Chicago TV news outlets:

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