By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Sep 21, 2011 at 11:00 AM

If you haven't seen any promos for Simon Cowell's new "The X Factor," you don't get Channel 6 on your television.

Fox has been heavily promoting the show for months, hoping against hope that it will fill the ratings vacuum in the first half of the season, before the annual January launch of "American Idol."

Of course there are no on-screen references to ratings powerhouse "Idol," but what else can a "reality" talent competition about singers featuring Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul make you think of?

They were the crazy sweet and snarkily sour team that helped create "Idol."

I've been interested – and surprised – that "Idol" not only survived, it survived the departure of Cowell last year to concentrate on putting his show together.

And I'll be watching to see if this "Idol" clone can do well. It launches tonight at 7 on Channel 6 with two hours of auditions, followed by two more hours of auditions on Thursday night.

Supposedly, we'll be seeing a kinder, gentler Cowell. Next you'll expect me to believe that we'll be seeing a more stable Abdul.

A little early "reality" news: Wisconsin's The Fannin Family of Hortonville, was cut from the first night of NBC's "The Sing-Off" on Monday night.

Here's the performance:

Tonight's new stuff: ABC has hour-long season premieres of "The Middle" – with a visit from Patricia Heaton's old TV husband, Ray Romano – at 7 and "Modern Family" at 8, followed by the premiere of "Revenge" at 9, on Channel 12.

  • CBS: "Survivor: South Pacific" airs at 7, and the returns of "Criminal Minds" at 8 and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" at 9, on Channel 58.
  • Fox: The whole prime-time is taken up by the two-hour premiere of "The X Factor," on Channel 6
  • NBC: New sitcoms "Up all Night" and "Free Agents" move into the 7 p.m. hour, Kathy Bates' "Harry's Law" has its season premiere at 8, followed at 9 by "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," on Channel 4.
  • CW: A new episode of "H8R" airs at 7, followed by "America's Next Top Model" at 8, on Channel 18.

Huge numbers for "Two and a Half Men," as expected: Nielsen Media Research overnights counted nearly 28 million people in the audience Monday night for the funeral of Charlie Sheen's "Charlie Harper" on CBS' "Two and a Half Men," an enormous audience for any scripted network show these days.

That brought a huge audience, some 19.5 million people, to the premiere of the new sitcom that followed it, "2 Broke Girls."

It's hard to draw any conclusion from those ratings numbers, since interest was so high in how the show would formally break its ties with the troubled Sheen.

Over on Comedy Central, 6.2 million people tuned in for the debut of the Sheen roast, the second biggest show to air on the cable channel.

If you're looking for the first loser of the new season, NBC's "Playboy Club" had only 5 million viewers. It's going to have to attract millions more very quickly, or it's doomed.

Craig and Elmo: Over the years, "Sesame Street" has attracted all sorts of interesting adult guests. Here's CBS late late night talker Craig Ferguson chatting with Elmo:

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.