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Prime slot doesn't help 'Jake'

NEW YORK -- Not every new television series is a championship contender.

The ultimate referee is Nielsen Media Research. Despite a strong year for a handful of new network programs, last week's prime-time rankings illustrated how difficult it can be to entice viewers with the promise of something new.

The John Stamos comedy ''Jake in Progress," for instance, failed to take advantage of the best time slot ABC could offer. Back-to-back episodes were presented in the hour that ''Desperate Housewives'' usually occupies, and managed barely more than half the audience that show typically draws.

The premiere episode had 14 million viewers and the second one 12 million. Considering the preceding ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" had an audience of 18.4 million leading into it, a lot of channel changing was taking place.

Partly as a result, ABC fell to fourth in the weekly standings among viewers and younger fans.

NBC's highly anticipated boxing series ''The Contender" was seen by 8.9 million people in a Thursday showcase, or half of what ''ER" does in the same Thursday time slot. Its Sunday audience of 6.7 million was barely more than a third of what Ty Pennington drew to redo a house.

The WB's ''Starlet" reality series had a mediocre start, and two repeats of the show had the network's lowest ratings for the week.

The ABC drama ''Blind Justice" had a strong but not overwhelming start, helped by a curiosity to see what ''NYPD Blue" co-creator Steven Bochco had for an encore.

CBS won the week, averaging 12.5 million viewers in prime time. Fox was second with 11.1 million and easily won among the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. NBC had 9.6 million, ABC 8.5 million, UPN 3 million, and the WB 2.6 million.

Sutherland joins 'Commander' cast

Emmy and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland has been tapped to star opposite Geena Davis in ABC's drama pilot ''Commander in Chief."

The two-hour program centers on the first female president of the United States (Davis). Sutherland will play the Speaker of the House.

THE HOLLYWOODREPORTER

Globe on NECN

Here's what's happening on ''Around the Globe" today on NECN:

12:30 p.m.: ''Globe at Home" -- Living/Arts writer Bella English and Patsy Rosenberg, founder of Cherrybrook Kitchen, talk about allergen-free baking mixes.

4 p.m.: ''Around the Globe"

6:30 p.m.: ''New England Business Day"

8 p.m.: ''NewsNight"

Schedule is subject to change.

On Boston.com

Noon: Miss Conduct Robin Abrahams chats about how to dodge nosy questions about money.

Talk of the dial

8 a.m. WBIX-AM (1060) -- ''Stu Taylor on Business." Guest: Larry Peppers, dean at Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics at Washington and Lee University.

Other radio highlights

Noon WUMB-FM (91.9) -- ''Live at Noon." Guest: Julie Lee, Nashville-based singer-songwriter.

8 p.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Grieg's Holberg suite; Franck's Symphony in D; Dvorak's Serenade for strings.

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