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Whoopi becomes neighborly with `Chris'

July 19, 2006|Scott Collins | Times Staff Writer

Whoopi Goldberg will guest star on CW's comedy "Everybody Hates Chris" this fall, but executive producer and narrator Chris Rock insists it's not just a stunt to boost ratings for the show, which has lost steam after a fast start last year.

"Stunt casting to me is like, 'Hey, Shaq just came over,' " Rock said. He added that that won't be the case with Goldberg, who in two episodes will play the next-door neighbor on the sitcom. "This is a real role."

Rock said he's been a fan of Goldberg since seeing her in the 1998 feature "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." "I've been kind of fixated on her since then," he told reporters Monday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

Goldberg has been without a regular TV home since her NBC sitcom "Whoopi" imploded during the 2003-04 season.

Meanwhile, Rock said he wasn't surprised to learn that UPN, the former network home of "Chris," was going out of business, along with former rival WB: "I always thought something was up. These two networks, it's like the VCR and Betamax."

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Not so fast, you TiVo types

Madison Avenue is beginning to pay close attention to what TV commercials look like when they're fast-forwarded on a TiVo or other digital video recorder.

DVRs, which are now in more than 10% of U.S. homes, allow viewers to speed through commercials, although a rapid jumble of images from the spots usually remains visible. Advertisers are now scrutinizing how to tweak spots so they can get viewers to stop and play the commercial at a normal speed.

Does this portend slow-motion ads for FedEx and Lunesta?

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They're wedded to engagement

It's no longer enough for networks to track how many people watch their shows. Now, thanks to DVRs, they need to know how engaged those viewers are.

CBS spent a session at the press tour Monday trumpeting results from IAG Research that purportedly show viewers stay more involved in broadcast programming than they do cable shows. Engagement is important because advertisers believe that more involved viewers are more likely to watch ads.

How does IAG measure this? According to CBS research guru David Poltrack, the firm asks viewers four questions about the content of the programming they watched. (Think of it as taking a pop quiz about "Lost.")

So what prime-time shows rank the highest for viewer engagement? According to IAG, the No. 1 program is CBS' struggling comedy "How I Met Your Mother," followed by ABC's "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

Comedies have the highest average level of engagement, Poltrack said.

The lowest? Newsmagazines, which suffer from high tune-out because of their multi-segment format.

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Channel Island is a blog about the television industry. For the latest posting, go to latimes.com/channelisland. Contact reporter Scott Collins at channelisland@latimes.com

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