Beauty Queens Intrigue -- Offstage

Rash Report: Despite Contestant Controversies, 'Miss Universe' Ratings the Same

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Offstage, it's been a big year for beauty queens, with two -- Carrie Prejean and Roxana Saberi -- showing differing levels of poise, grace and congeniality under the glare of the public eye. But despite Prejean's tabloid turn and Saberi's case being covered on the front of more respected papers, there weren't any more eyes turned towards last night's "Miss Universe Pageant" on NBC, which according to Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings delivered the same rating and share -- 2.0/6 -- in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic as last year.

'Miss Universe Pageant'
'Miss Universe Pageant' Credit: NBC
Indeed, it appears that while we're interested in how beauty contestants behave in the often ugly world of domestic and international politics, most folks aren't that interested in seeing what brought them to public prominence in the first place.

Maybe the public finds them fascinating because the artifice is harder to uphold offstage. Which is why so many were impressed with Saberi, the former Miss North Dakota-turned-jailed journalist in Iran, who seemed to show poise in Iran's Evin prison, a literal and figurative world away from the glamour of a pageant stage.

Or why some were so depressed after Prejean, this year's Miss California -- who to her credit answered an honest question about same-sex relationships truthfully -- seemed to lose some of her grace under the glare of the media spotlight in the weeks afterward.

Despite NBC's pageant winning from 9:30-11p.m., there wasn't too much of a beauty contest in the Nielsen ratings however, as the dog-days-of-August scheduling produced some less than attractive results. Fox finished first with a 1.8/5, despite running reruns for all three hours of primetime. But that still beat NBC and CBS, which tied for second with a 1.5/4 (despite the ugly behavior of "Big Brother" contestants making the CBS reality show the most watched in the demo with a 2.5/8). ABC finished fourth with a 1.4/4, with "America's Funniest Home Videos" (1.6/6) winning primetime's first hour. The CW finished fifth, with the gruesome sounding schedule of "Reaper" (.3/1), which is actually a comedy, leading into "Silence of the Lambs" (.5/1), which is not.

Rash grids

See how all the shows did in the ratings.

As for last night's pageant, so far no considerable controversy has emerged. But it's notable that for the second time in a row, the woman crowned came from a country where the leader has been trying to do the same thing for himself. But at least for a day, it's Stefania Fernandez, not Hugo Chavez, who can claim to be the most popular person in Venezuela.

Monday: Two finales tell the tale of original programming for two summer seasons: Network and cable. ABC, which like its broadcast brethren has mainly run reality shows, runs the last episode of "Dating in the Dark," while TNT, which like much of its cable competitors run scripted series during summer months, has "The Closer's" ender.
Tuesday: School's not back in session for another week or two, but bone up on the world around us with news/documentary programs "Nova scienceNow" and "P.O.V."

A strong close for "The Closer," with the season finale beating many broadcast options.

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