Battle of the network egos

"Lost" has always had loyal viewers, high ratings, and much talk, but will it be enough to stand up to the worshipped American Idol. Also competing on the climax of television, May 25, is the movie Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution. This night each network gives it their all and trys to outplay the other channels. Will ABC with "Lost" prevail?

May 25, the final night of the 2004-2005 TV season, could go down in history. Three powerhouse attractions -- the crowning of the fourth American Idol, the double-length season finale of serial hit Lost and the torn-from-the-headlines TV movie Amber Frey: Witness for the Prosecution -- will collide in what might be the most contentious weeknight ever.

There have been other titanic showdowns, the most celebrated being Feb. 11, 1979, when Gone With the Wind, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the TV movie Elvis faced off in what many TV analysts regard as the most reckless scorched-earth scheduling ever. Remember, this was pre-VCR, so most homes had to choose just one. However, almost all previous battles royal, including the one in 1979, have been on Sundays, when typically the most viewers are available. That the latest will take place on a Wednesday, generally not a heavily trafficked night, is a matter of circumstance more than design.

Wednesday is results night on American Idol. With Fox pulverizing everything in its path every time Idol airs, and the two-hour crowning of a winner an event almost on par with the Oscars, there's no reason for Fox to depart from the norm.

Lost also is a Wednesday fixture, although its regular time slot is 8 p.m., the hour prior to American Idol. The movie-length season-ender makes at least a partial conflict with Idol unavoidable. The alternative to a simultaneous start would be a 9 p.m. airtime. This would create only a one-hour overlap, but Idol would have a stranglehold on viewers by the time Lost started. It would be pollyannaish for ABC to hope viewers would abandon Idol just as it is getting to its climactic moment. It's actually more prudent to buck the heavily padded first hour of Idol and hope fans of both shows become hooked enough to stick with Lost.
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Posted byNick at 4:46 PM

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