Set the good stuff free, why don't you, CBS? Don't keep us hanging on LILLEHAMMER '94

It's amazing what slow-motion instant replay can reveal. Did you catch the replay on Duncan Kennedy's luge spill last night on CBS?

Just before Kennedy went bump, bump, sprawl, the cameras caught his distraction. Out of the corner of his eye, Kennedy glimpsed those guys in the bobsled from the Diet Coke commercial.


And that's it for the entertainment portion of today's TV column.

If CBS had a theme song for its prime-time Winter Olympics presentation, it would be "You Keep Me Hangin' On."


And we'll be right back with Duncan Kennedy's luge run, but first sit through these eight commercials and a segment with European lugers.

Stay tuned for Dan Jansen, but if you've been putting off taking down the Christmas lights, you have plenty of time to climb on the roof before we actually show him skating.

Set me free, why don't you, babe . . .


It's hard to tell what the more remarkable part of last night's Donna Weinbrecht story was: that she has come back from a severe knee injury to compete in the Olympics or that she allowed highly personal aspects of her ordeal to be filmed, like hTC some kind of skiing "Truth or Dare."

The cameras were there when Weinbrecht emerged from surgery, when she began rehabilitation, when she tearfully returned home, when she worked out at home, when she took her first steps, when she called home after her first victory back on the moguls.

The medium is the message, or something like that.

We're watching


A less obtrusive, but just as telling shot came after Kennedy's spill.The camera shot over his mother's shoulder, showing her view of her son sitting there, dejected, after his failed run.

That picture was more effective in conveying emotion than the shots of the Jansens upset in the stands after Dan's slip.

Charles in charge

After all the pictures of the sad Jansens and the unenlightening interviews with them, Charles Kuralt put the matter in perspective near the end of the prime-time show.

Jansen, Kuralt pointed out, was just one of many losers at the Olympics. He slipped and Kennedy crashed, but there was the downhiller who lost his ski at the starting gate and the Norwegian speed skating favorite who went flying into the wall on a turn.

No one holds a monopoly on sad Olympic stories.


Hi, mom

David Letterman's mom made her debut report from Lillehammer last night on her son's show, checking in from the bottom of the ski jump. A tape of her short interview with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton featured mom asking whether something could be done about the speed limit in Connecticut. This elicited a response in which it was revealed that, like Letterman, the president has a heavy foot when he drives.

Barbara Walters never got stuff like that.

Numbers game

Sunday night's prime-time show on CBS was the third-highest-rated Olympic telecast in history. CBS drew a 29.2 rating and 41 share.

Two of ABC's telecasts during the 1972 Munich Games had higher ratings, 30.0 and 33.3.


What's remarkable about CBS' high marks Sunday is that the American audience has so many more viewing options than it did 22 years ago.

Though Sunday nights draw high viewership, CBS didn't have anything especially compelling that would have brought in a big audience.

Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program. Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use. In Norwegian, the word for ratings is tubevatchers (to steal an idea from Dave Barry).

Looking ahead

Rush to that TV. This morning on CBS (7-9, channels 11, 9), the network has big things planned. Paula Zahn will be seen trying to play hockey. Take that, Katie Couric.

Tonight on CBS, coverage runs a half-hour extra, 8 to 11:30, and includes the pairs figure skating finals.


The Russian team of Natalya Mishkutyenok and Artur Dmitryev will be profiled. Kuralt reports on the family that lives above Olympic Cavern Hall. Maybe they'd always wanted a finished basement.

Go to sleep early. George Steinbrenner is a scheduled guest on the late night show (1:07-2:07 a.m.).