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The Viewers Have Spoken 

Pauley to tilt to depressive?

With the turning of the leaves and harvest of the pumpkin patch, new fall TV shows debut and already some favorites and one dog have emerged in the Charlotte market. Some are old and some are new, but in a bit of surprise, reality doesn't necessarily rule.

The aforementioned "dog" is the much hyped Jane Pauley Show. You know the one: it's where the former NBC stalwart (who revealed she was bipolar a week before the show premiere) tries to do an Oprah thing. As in most markets around the country, Ms. Jane is doing very poorly. In Charlotte, where Oprah does about a 9 Nielsens household share and Montel rates around a 3.5, Pauley's talk show is doing about a 1 rating and was beaten one afternoon last week by Maury Povich, Texas Justice, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Yu-Gi-Ouch.

Network dramas are scoring well so far, with Charlotte-area viewers tuning in to ABC's Lost, CBS' CSI: New York, and Joey on NBC. (Personal note: my pitch to CBS for CSI: Troutman has not been greenlighted.)

Two reality shows are drawing local viewers. The granddaddy, Survivor, is doing fine, and giant promotion has brought good ratings so far for Wife Swap.

News anchors seem to come and go in the Charlotte market lately, but you heard it here first, kids. WSOC-TV's Erica Bryant Fields, who anchors mornings and noon weekdays, is the real deal. She's smooth, personable, and has no discernable collagen or chemical peel issues. Rock on.

RATHER NOT, INDEED From the "say what?" department, WBTV general manager Mary McMillan, obviously spurred by viewer complaints in a "We're voting for Bush" TV market and a number 3 finish for CBS in Charlotte for the presidential debate, publicly called for anchor Dan Rather's suspension last week.

There's no doubt that CBS News did itself some damage with "Memogate." Ratings for Rather's newscast were down last week some 21 percent from the same week a year ago. Still, McMillan's declaration seems a bold move for a GM who tends to fly under the radar in such matters. . .We are publicly calling for Channel 3 to run something other than infomercials at 9am weekdays. Jane Pauley might be available.

Also at WBTV, the unveiling of a new set and evening newscast format is happening this week. E-mail me what you think. Stay tuned.

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