By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Dec 09, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Nielsen Media Research does far more than just count who's watching what TV show.

It provides lots of research that advertisers can use to determine where to place their dollars, like "viewer engagement." Nielsen asks viewers questions to figure out how much content they remember from a specific episode, which provides an insight into how well they'll remember commercials running in the program.

And in the latest crop of new shows, Nielsen has found CBS' "Mike and Molly" to score the highest.

Three shows were tied for second in that measure: Fox's "Raising Hope," and "Running Wilde" and NBC's "The Event." The next to pop up is ABC's "Overall Family."

Since "Running Wilde" is all but canceled, this measure clearly isn't related to overall ratings. But it is an interesting look at how shows connect with their viewers.

This year's crop of new sitcoms show a 5 percent improvement in viewer engagement over last year, overall, this year's new shows are up 2 percent in that measurement.

As for "Mike and Molly," I didn't like it at the start. It was wall-to-wall fat jokes at the expense of stars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy.

But over the weeks, the charm of the Gardell as a Chicago cop and McCarthy as a school teacher has overwhelmed the cheap humor and it's starting to grow on me.

But I have to tell you, I can't remember a single commercial from the show, so I must not be very engaged in the show.

"Blue Valentine" gets an "R": The film that opened this year's Milwaukee Film Festival, "Blue Valentine," looked like it was going to be hampered by an NC-17 rating for the intensity of sex scenes between stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

But the Motion Picture Association of America, the film industry body that rates films, decided to lower that to an "R." The film about a relationship that's ending opens in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 31, and could be an Oscar contender.

It was all talk: Nobody should be surprised that Howard Stern announced this morning on his Sirius Satellite radio show that he's not leaving Sirius Satellite Radio. He told listeners that he's signed a second five-year contract.

That comes after a story floated last week that he was headed to Apple for an Internet-only show, and just after he publicly blasted the satellite radio company's CFO for suggesting he might have to take a pay cut to stay on Sirius.

Stern didn't offer any money details, but the new deal will extend his show to mobile devices.

Sirius formally announced the five-year deal later in the morning.

On TV: Channel 4's departing George Mallet will start in January as an anchor for WPTZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Burlington, Vt. Friday is his last day at Channel 4.

  • It was West Allis' Bunkers that got the nod from Camille Ford for "best burger buns" on Travel Channel's "Best Places I've Ever Been" along with AJ Bombers, picked by Ford for "most creative toppings" and "best veggie burgers." The show repeats at 7 a.m. Saturday.
  • Fox is keeping the latest season of "Lie To Me" at 13 episodes, although the show hasn't been canceled and could be back next season. Still, things don't look good for the Tim Roth drama.
  • Speaking of Fox, when "Fringe" returns on Jan. 21, it'll be in the 8 p.m. Friday slot.
  • And one more bit of Fox programming news, "Glee" won't be back with a new installment until its post-"Super Bowl" episode featuring a dancing Katie Couric airs on Feb. 6. No, really. A dancing Katie Couric.
  • There was a rumor floating around this week that Charlie Sheen would pop up on next year's "Walking Dead" as a zombie. AMC says it ain't so.
  • says James Franco is returning to ABC's General Hospital in a two-episode stint that will air just before and after he co-hosts this year's Oscars.
  • MTV's New Year's Eve coverage will feature Snooki of "Jersey Shore" fame dropped in a ball to herald the beginning of 2011. No, really.
  • Barbara Walters does an hour with Oprah Winfrey tonight at 8 on Channel 12. The headline: Oprah  tells her she's not a lesbian. "I'm not even kind of a lesbian," she says.
  • Chicago's premiere radio and TV analyst, Robert Feder, is moving his blog to Time Out Chicago starting in the New Year.

Must-see Christmas TV: NBC's Thursday night sitcom lineup is all-Christmas tonight, featuring a one-hour "The Office," that brings back Michael's old flame, Holly.

Things kick off at 7 p.m. with "Community," and a stop-action animated holiday episode.

Here's a preview:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.