Accessible Celebrity

Rash Report: Real, Relatable 'Leno,' 'America's Got Talent,' 'Glee' Connect

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- "I am a celebrity and that's something I'm going to have to deal with," said a subdued Kanye West to Jay Leno, as if an affliction had struck him.

'America's Got Talent' winner Kevin Skinner
'America's Got Talent' winner Kevin Skinner Credit: Trae Patton
To some degree, celebrity has struck the American people, and if it's an affliction, like most it's partly due to behavioral factors, such as surfing more readily for perezhilton.com than reading about Paris' Nicolas Sarkozy (who himself seems star-struck, given his marriage to Carla Bruni). But if, like Kanye, they "have to deal with it," they're dealing with it in a way that while acknowledging celebrity, still rewards those who can best pass as everyday folk.

Last night's ratings race, for instance, was won by shows in which the stars are literal or figurative amateurs, like NBC's "America's Got Talent" and Fox's "Glee," as well as one in which the big star really comes across as a guy who could pass as a shade tree mechanic, the sunny Jay Leno.

Sure, "Talent" had star power for its finale, as it brought everyday person turned overnight YouTube sensation Susan Boyle across the pond after her big splash in "Britain's Got Talent." But the real stars are the amateurs trying for the same celebrity Kanye can't seem to handle. "Talent" got a 3.5/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic from the Nielsen judges, as did night three of "The Jay Leno Show," which was actually up 3% from night two, but still down a third from Monday's primetime premiere.

As for "Glee" (3.2/9), while it didn't win its timeslot, it was up a third over its "So You Think You Can Dance" (2.4/7) lead-in, and held a healthy 91% from last week's highly hyped season opener. And while its unknown stars still have the requisite attractiveness and acting talent, by playing real people, with universal insecurities, "Glee" is as accessible as the "America's Got Talent," as both shows are basically about wanting to get noticed in our celebrity-crazed culture.

Conversely, those literally and figuratively posing on "The Beautiful Life," which had its program premiere on the CW, don't have anywhere near the accessibility, and could only model a .6/2, which was less than half of its lead-in reality show about people who want to do the real thing, "America's Next Top Model" (1.4/4).

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See how all the shows did in the ratings.
Accordingly, for the night, Fox finished second with a 2.8/8, while the CW finished fifth with a 1.0/3. In-between, reality on ABC was third with a 1.7/5 and repeats on CBS fell to fourth with a 1.6/5.

To be sure, whether one picks up a remote control or checks out the checkout-line magazine rack, we're still -- and perhaps forever -- in a celebrity era. So the shows that "deal with" that in a more real, relatable way may be the ones getting the awards. And given the continuing controversy, and Kanye's contrition, it's likely those accepting will be able to finish their acceptance speech.

WHAT TO WATCH: Thursday: If you're like most Emmy voters, you may like NBC's sitcom style on Thursday night, with single-camera, non-laugh track comedies. If so, check out the program premiere of "Community," with Chevy Chase as the most known actor in a comedy about community college. It doesn't hit the highs of perennial Emmy nominees "30 Rock and "The Office," but instead is more like the uneven "Parks and Recreation." But it's worth a look, especially at a time when community college enrollment has hit an all-time high.
Friday: Need a sanity antidote to Glenn Beck sticking his tongue out on the cover of this week's Time Magazine? Tune in "Shields and Brooks" on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
CBS to break up NBC's nice winning streak -- at least in the first hour -- with the season premiere of "Survivor."

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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