T Dog’s Grab Bag: “Arsenio” to return for second season

Grab Baggin’-

* It’s like good prevailing over evil: CBS Television Distribution announced the renewal of The Arsenio Hall Show for a second season Wednesday evening, with former Tonight Show host Jay Leno delivering the news to Arsenio in person (see above.) This comes as Arsenio has the youngest median age of any late night talk show amid a recent ratings increase. Arsenio is the most-watched entertainment show in the Chicago market at 10 p.m. (thru 10:30) over WGN-TV, whose owner Tribune Broadcasting co-produces the show. WGN is retaining Arsenio at 10 next season, with WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles doing likewise 11 p.m. slots.

The quality of Arsenio’s guests have improved as of late, with Deion Sanders, Tracey Edmonds, Cloris Leachman, LL Cool J, Scott Bakula and Jada Pinkett Smith appearing this week alone – and it was announced Thursday night that the one and only Prince would be on Arsenio this coming Wednesday. And the show made news recently after an NBC news report on late-night talk shows omitted his and Chelsea Hander’s programs, with Brian Williams apologizing.

The renewal of Arsenio – and the earlier one of Queen Latifah – is in vast contrast to what happened to Bethenny Frankel’s syndicated talk show last week, who got the rug pulled right out from under her. Yes, there is a God!

* In other 10 p.m. news… as expected, WMAQ-TV won the late news race in February, thanks to its parent network’s Olympic lead-ins. But when you take out a few of those newscasts, its ABC-owned WLS-TV emerging as the victor by a wide margin. in households, according to Robert Feder. Among adults 25-54, the race between the two is much closer. With viewing patterns now back to normal, look for WLS to return to its dominant local news position.

While the Olympics helped a lot of NBC affiliates, it didn’t exactly have an halo effect in all markets: in San Antonio for example, perennial third-place station WOAI (formerly known as KMOL) finished there while ABC affiliate KSAT dominated yet again at 10 p.m. – despite finishing fourth in prime time.

Despite Olympic competition, WGN-TV’s 9 p.m. newscast scored a 5.1 HH rating, surpassing CBS’ WBBM-TV 5.0 at 10 p.m. and of course, easily beating Fox’s WFLD 9 p.m. newscast (2.6).

* Striking it while its hot… or cold: guess whose coming to town Sunday to participate in the  Polar Plunge? None other than brand new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, who agreed to participate in the plunge – as a favor to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. As first reported by Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Lori Rackl, Mayor Emanuel said he would go on Fallon’s Tonight Show – only if he participated in the annual dip into Lake Michigan to benefit the Special Olympics. The move is great for Fallon, whose late night talker is off to a strong start in the ratings and is a smart PR move for Chicago, who could use some positive headlines for a change.

This started of course, when the Sun-Times’ Rackl interviewed with Fallon on February 19, when he mentioned he was “scared” of Mayor Emanuel.

Also participating in the plunge Sunday are Charlie Barnett, David Eigenberg, Tony Ferraris, and Derek Haas from Chicago Fire (the TV show, not the soccer team) and from spinoff Chicago P.D., participating stars are Jon Seda, Patrick Fleuger, and LaRoyce Hawkins.

The Weather forecast Sunday morning calls for snow showers and the temp to hover around 18 F. Try to stay warm, Jimmy!

* Fox released its 2014 Major League Baseball schedule this week, but don’t look for many Cubs and White Sox games on the schedule. In fact, don’t look for any White Sox games at all. The new eight-year contract with Fox moves the bulk of the games to Fox Sports 1, leaving Fox with just 12 weeks of regular-season baseball – the smallest on broadcast since CBS’ 16-game package from 1990-93. Eight of games are in prime access/prime time.

With both Chicago teams underachieving last season, Fox/FS1 have left the Cubs and White Sox off their schedules almost entirely, with the Cubs appearing once on FS1 (against St. Louis on May 3) and only twice regionally on Fox: a June 21 meeting at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates and a game against the Washington Nationals a week later. Meanwhile, the White Sox aren’t scheduled to appear on Fox/FS1 at all, joining the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, and Toronto Blue Jays as MLB teams who are shut out completely.