While the regular old calendar still shows a few more days in October, the television calendar rules that November starts today -- at least the November sweeps.
The four-week rating period, still important to network affiliates in setting local advertising rates, isn't as big a deal in prime time as it used to be. But there is a list of "big" things coming in the period between now and Thanksgiving eve.
Here are some of the sweeps highlights:
- NBC offers a "Women of SNL" special at 8 p.m. Monday on Channel 4, featuring some new material, along with plenty of clips.
- The annual "Treehouse of Horrors" edition of "The Simpsons" airs Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. on Channel 6.
- Expect to see a lot of George W. Bush on TV this month, with his new book coming out. In addition to a Nov. 9 Oprah Winfrey appearance, Matt Lauer has a prime-time hour with the former president on NBC Nov. 8, and he'll be on "Today" Nov. 10. Expect more appearances.
- Casual viewers of TBS have seen a lot of Conan O'Brien in promos for his show. Well, it will finally premiere in the 10 p.m. weeknight slot on Nov. 8. Expect Jay Leno and David Letterman both to book big name guests to keep viewers from sampling the new show, which starts a half-hour earlier then the network late-night talk shows.
- ABC has the 44th annual CMA Awards from Nashville on Nov. 10.
- In a trans-network stunt, the cast of NBC's "The Office" gets together to watch Fox's "Glee" on Nov. 11.
- The actual "Glee" has a bunch of special events, including a visit from Gwyneth Paltrow as a substitute teacher, and Carol Burnett as Jane Lynch's mom.
- Teri Hatcher used to play Lois Lane, and now she's visiting "Smallville" on Nov. 12 playing Lois Lane's mom.
- The ratings period wraps up Nov. 24, the night before Thanksgiving, with "The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now?" The special revisits some of the veterans of the show on the night before all of us eat too much turkey and pumpkin pie.
Another free subchannel pops up: Channel 24 launched its first digital subchannel this week, starting "The Country Network" on Channel 24.2 over the air.
The Nashville-based music video channel signed a deal this summer with Sinclair Broadcasting -- which owns Channels 18 and 24 -- to be carried on digital subchannels in Sinclair TV markets.
You may have to re-scan your TV or digital converter box to pick up the new channel -- which shows why it's smart to periodically rescan to make sure you're getting all the channels available. Once every month or so should be enough.
On TV: CBS has cut "Medium" from the full-season 22 episodes to just 13, making Patricia Arquette's show look doomed in its seventh season.
- Syfy has pulled "Caprica" for the schedule, with the remaining episodes expected to run next year.
- Anchor Shepard Smith has signed a multi-year extension of his Fox News Channel contract. He's reportedly staying through 2013.
- Robert Kirkman, creator of AMC's new "Walking Dead," tells MTV News that his show was supposed to premiere last Sunday, but was delayed until Halloween Night at 9 p.m. by the ratings power of Brett Favre.
- Jon Hamm hosts this weekend's "Saturday Night Live," with musical guest Rihanna.
- Showtime is launching Showtime Anytime, providing free some 400 hours of programming to subscribers via the Internet.
- If watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is part of your Halloween tradition, it airs tonight at 7 on Channel 12, and repeats at 7 p.m. Friday.
Television of the future, from the past: Here's a fascinating 1980 NBC news report about the future of television, and how it might compete with newspapers. Of course, this was before we were talking about the Internet.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. 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 OnMilwaukee.com.
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.