RATINGS GAME: NBC won the first week of the season with an average 17 million primetime viewers, while CBS improved its prospects with a second-place finish at 15 million. ABC finished down 22 percent from its showing last year and Fox was down 23 percent.
JACKSON FIVE: Opening arguments were today in the trial of a wrongful-termination suit by five former employees at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch in California. They claim the singer used listening devices to find out if they knew anything about child-molestation charges made against him in 1993, then forced them out of their jobs. Jackson denies their claims.
O.J. REPORT: Race was the issue at the O.J. Simpson civil trial today. Simpson's attorney accused his opponents of of targeting blacks for removal from the jury pool. A lawyer for the plaintiffs asked to have a black woman removed from the pool after she said she believed police planted evidence. So far, 29 people in the pool. Simpson, who said he didn't want to miss jury selection, wasn't in court today.
MOST WANTED: America's Most Wanted host John Walsh is dejected after the prime suspect in the murder of his 6-year-old son died. "It seems to me as if another door has been closed in our face," Walsh said. It was the death of his son that inspired Walsh to hunt down criminals.
PRISON PROBLEMS: Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher testified in court yesterday that she's been repeatedly raped by prison guards and needs to be transferred. Fisher, who is serving a five to 15-year sentence for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco, is suing prison officials.
POSTING SOON: Microsoft said yesterday it will launch its first online local-entertainment guide in Seattle in the first quarter of 1997, followed by 10 to 15 other cities by the end of the year.
HOSTING SOON: Vince Gill will host the Country Music Association Awards, airing on CBS on October 2 at 8 p.m. ET. He's won more CMA awards than anyone. Other performers include Wynonna--singing a duet with Phantom's Michael Bolton--Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson and LeAnn Rimes, at 14 the youngest nominee in the awards'history. If you want to cast your vote, click on to a music publisher's Website. The unofficial tally will be announced two days before the show.
DEAL MONITOR: Robert Redford will remake one ofhis favorite films, Random Harvest, made in 1942 with Ronald Colman and Greer Garson...Bette Midler may star in Scrambled Eggs, a comedy about two pregnant women, which she'll produce...Rosie O'Donnell wants to star as a Mary Poppins-type in Double Wish, a project she's shopping...In the cast for romantic comedy Woo: Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes, LL Cool J and Tommy Davidson...Remember Neil Patrick Harris--Doogie Howser? He'll play opposite Kenneth Branagh, Madeleine Stowe and William Hurt in Shakespeare's Sister...Fox will shoot Home Alone 3 starting in December. No casting yet--Macaulay Culkin is a big boy now.
DUMPED: Stations in 19 markets have dropped the Richard Bey Show in what may be a reaction against "trash talk" TV.
GAGGED: Standup Chris Rock, formerly in the cast of Saturday Night Live, signed a deal with the DreamWorks record label for a comedy album. Look for more than a dozen albums from various comedians to hit the shelves in the coming months.
LABOR OF LOVE: Nick Cassavetes, whose feature film directing debut Unhook the Stars comes out in November, isfinishing a script his father John was working on when he died in 1989. Filming starts November 1 with the son directing.
GREEN ALL OVER: Rob Reiner and Ted Danson will be honored at the SixthAnnual Environmental Media Awards next month, Reiner for The American President and Danson for his work as founder and president of the American Oceans Campaign.
PRIVATE PARTY: When Paul Newman throws his annual fund-raising gala for his Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Connecticut, it's not just a local-talent show. Providing the entertainment were WhoopiGoldberg, Frank Langella, Harry Belafonte, Joan Rivers, cast members from Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk and, of course, Paul and wife Joanne Woodward.
LOST AND FOUND: Putnam's publishers release Love, Lucy today, Lucille Ball's memoirs, based on papers found among the actress' effects after her death.
ON THE CASE: The Pinkerton Detective Agency wants to stop distribution of Pinkerton, the new album from L.A. rockers Weezer. The band claims it took the name from the lead character of Puccini's Madama Butterfly (who wasn't a detective).