Martha loses out to Lost; Live from Jet Blue's near disaster; NHL back in the game

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ABC's Lost finds big ratings
Fresh off its upset Emmy win for best drama Sunday, Lost went off the chart Wednesday with eye-popping, series-high ratings delivered by its sophomore-season debut. Lost and its 8 p.m. recap special, Destination: Lost, sucked up so much of the available audience that ABC's rivals had a hard time getting any traction on the night. NBC in particular suffered through weak turnouts for the 8 p.m. bow of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart and 9 p.m.'s E-Ring.

Rates, oil prices, storms might affect ad spending
Higher oil prices and interest rates--coupled with the economic impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita--could have a serious effect on ad spending in the coming months, media buyers said Thursday. There have been no seismic shifts in the ad market since the upfront market this spring, when most of the slots for the just-begun TV season were sold. But five top media buyers who spoke at an industry gathering said all was not rosy.

Martha Stewart's NBC show draws ho-hum ratings
Martha Stewart launched her version of NBC reality hit The Apprentice to disappointing ratings and criticism that the domestic diva and ex-con needs to be a nastier TV boss. Stewart, who gently fired her first corporate wannabe by saying, "Jeff, you just don't fit in," drew only 7.7 million viewers to her highly anticipated premiere on Wednesday night. She finished a distant second behind a recap of ABC's Lost, according to Nielsen Media Research.

NHL launches new campaign ahead of new season
Stung by a yearlong lockout that was resolved in July, the National Hockey League, its players, and media partners presented a united front Wednesday night in advance of the game's return early next month. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, a handful of players, along with representatives from NHL, Comcast and OLN (Outdoor Life Network), XM Satellite Radio, and others attended an event at the Museum of Television & Radio to show off the league's new campaign and to talk up how hockey had changed. In the past several months, the NHL settled its labor dispute, embarked on a new contract with the players union, made some key rules changes, and left its longtime cable home ESPN for a new start on Comcast's OLN.

Crippled jet's passengers watched drama on live TV
The dramatic landing of a Jet Blue airliner with failed nose gear transfixed live TV audiences--including the plane's passengers, who watched their plight on satellite television even as they lived through it. "We couldn't believe the irony, that we were watching our own demise on TV. That seemed a little bit, you know, post-modern," six-months pregnant passenger Alexandra Jacobs, a features editor for the New York Observer, told CNN.

Thug life sounds good for HBO, Epps
HBO is developing a half-hour comedy titled The Unsuccessful Thug starring comedian Mike Epps, sources said. The project is said to be about Epps' life and his failed attempts to hustle back in his old neighborhood, where he was deemed too funny to be a "thug."

Killer Instinct incessantly bleak
There is a lot of The Silence of the Lambs in Fox's creepy new Killer Instinct, but not enough to make it compelling rather than simply icky. It also is plenty dark and disturbing, but the presentation, while stylish, also has a gratuitous feel. What has to be the fall season's most twisted pilot involves seemingly healthy young women who appear to have died in their sleep. In fact they've been victimized by rare poisonous spiders who paralyze them before they're killed by your basic maniacal rapist. We also see a young woman caged in a house packed with slimy beetles.

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