NEW YORK -- Based on its series premiere, Joey Tribbiani is missing a few viewers along with his "Friends." An estimated 18.6 million people watched the first episode of "Joey" Thursday, the spinoff of "Friends" that NBC was counting on to keep its Thursday night lineup strong, according to
That's lower than any original episode of Matt LeBlanc's old series drew last season, including the 24.5 million people who saw the season debut.
NBC notes that "Joey" gathered the largest audience among the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49-year-old age group of any other entertainment show since May. It was also the best-rated 8 p.m. comedy premiere for NBC in 14 years.
Yet given that NBC promoted the series heavily during the Olympics and its chief Thursday competition, "Survivor," hasn't started the season yet, it seemed the number would have been higher, said Marc Berman, a television analyst for Media Week Online.
"I can't imagine they're all there [at NBC] jumping for joy," he said.
"Joey" should settle in to being "a respectable hit, but it won't be a breakout hit," he said.
The ratings compare to last season's premiere of CBS' "Two and a Half Men," which drew 18.4 million viewers.
If he looked at Thursday night's numbers, Donald Trump's job security may not be that much better than the ambitious contestants he's putting on the firing line.
The debut of "The Apprentice" for its second season was seen by 14.1 million people, Nielsen said. That's the lowest number yet for the business game, down from the 20.7 million average for the first season and the 18.5 million who saw the first episode ever.
"The Apprentice" was going up against the first game of the National Football League season, stiffer competition than usual on ABC. CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," was airing a rerun at the same time.
Television viewers haven't exactly jumped at the chance to see network fare ahead of the traditional start of the fall season in late September. Fox's effort to debut new series in the summer proved to be disastrous.
Timing isn't right for Madonna, CBSPlans for a Madonna concert special on CBS this season have fallen through after the singer and network could not agree on how the show would be presented.
The Material Girl-turned-Kabbalah devotee wanted the special to run longer than two hours, commercial-free, according to news reports. The network didn't want to hand over such a large chunk of primetime; even with ads, CBS wanted to keep the show within two hours.
Madonna wasn't willing to accept those terms, and so the special was axed.
CBS' terms probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to Madonna; press material from the network in July touted the concert as a two-hour special.
The special was to have been taped during Madonna's current Reinvention Tour and would have featured such hits as "Vogue" and "Papa Don't Preach."
A super cameo for KidderAs the WB's drama "Smallville" prepares to welcome the character of Lois Lane into its mythology, the most popular and familiar Lois Lane is ready to make a cameo. Margot Kidder, costar of the last four "Superman" movies, is taking flight to the WB to visit with Tom Welling's kryptonite-hating superhero.
Kidder will play Bridgette Crosby, emissary to Dr. Swann, a cute twist, since Swann has been played by Kidder's big screen super-love Christopher Reeve. The character will first appear in the show's season premiere on Sept. 22 and will return for the sixth episode. Coincidentally, the season premiere will also feature the first appearance by Erica Durance as Lois Lane.
Adding to the fun will be the reunion between Kidder and "Smallville" costar Annette O'Toole, who played Lana Lang in "Superman III."