The American viewing public just can't get enough of those MTV awards.
Last Thursday's live broadcast of the 16th annual MTV Music Video Awards, live from New York's Metropolitan Opera, was the highest-rated ever, seen in some 8.2 million households -- a 37 percent increase over last year's show.
(Those numbers make it the highest-rated program in MTV history, and the most-watched entertainment program to ever air on cable.)
There's also no mistaking the program's target audience, or MTV's success in marketing the show to them: 7.9 million viewers ages 12-34 tuned in.
A quick review of the particulars: Lauryn Hill led the list of winners with four awards for "Doo Wop (That Thing)."
Other multiple winners included Ricky Martin, Fatboy Slim and Korn. And Madonna took home an award for Best Video in a Film ("Beautiful Stranger," from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"), making her the most honored artist in the awards' shows history. She's brought home 18 of the little astronaut statues so far.
Factoid time: A press release from MTV notes that, after Madonna, Aerosmith and Michael Jackson are the second and third most honored artists "of the 20th century."
No word who the big winners of the 19th century were.
While we're on the subject of ratings: Last week's "Biography" of child-star-turned-director Ron Howard was the highest-rated ever on A&E;, seen in 3.498 million households.
Howard's story narrowly beat that of wrestler Andre the Giant, which was seen in 3.494 million households in January 1999. Coming in third: Ozzie and Harriet, 3.433 million households in June 1998.
'Honey' back for third year
"Disney's Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," the small-screen version of the hit Disney film, returns for a third season next week with an episode directed by series executive producer John Landis ("National Lampoon's Animal House," "The Blues Brothers").
In the premiere, bungling inventor Wayne Szalinski (Peter Scolari, who can trace his TV career back to co-starring with Tom Hanks on "Bosom Buddies") is obsessed with deciphering the lyrics to a '60s rock song. So, naturally, he transports himself back in time, where he discovers the song is part of a nefarious plot to take over the minds of America's teen-agers (sounds like every '60s-era parent's worst fear, doesn't it?).
The show will be carried locally Saturdays at noon on WNUV, Channel 54, beginning Sept. 25
MPT throws free party
If you're in the mood for a party Sunday, check out the free Backyard Bash honoring Maryland Public Television's 30th anniversary.
The party is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. at MPT's headquarters in Owings Mills; visitors should park at the Owings Mills metro station and use the free shuttle bus.
Guests will be able to peek behind the scenes at the MPT studios, observe live demonstrations throughout the afternoon and meet many MPT on-air personalities.
For the kids, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Wimzie, not to mention Bob the Vid Tech and characters from Puzzle Place, will also be on hand.
There will also be a food court on-site, plus wandering clowns, magicians and jugglers.
For more information, phone 410-581-4398 or visit the MPT Web site at www.mpt.org.
Starr on show's debut
"DC Insider," a weekly half-hour look at how decisions are made in the nation's capital, makes its debut at 6 p.m. Friday on Court TV.
Fred Graham, the station's chief anchor and managing editor, will serve as the program's host. Scheduled guests on Friday's premiere include Independent Counsel Ken Starr.
Regular segments will include "Inside," featuring key players in the week's top story; "Against the Grain," a forum for offbeat and unusual ideas; and "Closing Argument," a weekly commentary from Graham.
Viewers will be able to add their two-cents-worth to the topics discussed during "Against the Grain" via the Court TV Web site (www.courttv.com).
Let's go smell some TV
Parents who notice a strange odor around their house this week shouldn't worry.
No doubt, your kids are just taking advantage of Nickelodeon's week-long experiment in smell-o-vision. And don't worry about those strange eyeglasses, either: Nickelodeon's welcoming 3-D TV, too.
During shows airing from 8 p.m.-9 p.m. though Friday, icons in the lower left corner of the TV screen will alert viewers to put on their 3-D glasses and sniff game cards, to fully appreciate the network's offerings. And if your kids don't have those special cards or glasses, they're available on select Kraft food packages and at many Blockbuster locations.
(If you missed the odoriferous offerings proffered earlier this week, the whole thing gets repeated next week, weekdays from 4 p.m.-5 p.m.)
Radio listeners longing to find out what really happened in yesterday's mayoral primary are urged to tune in to the first half of today's "The Marc Steiner Show," where The Sun's Dan Rodricks is scheduled to join Anthony McCarthy of the Afro-American in dissecting the results.
"The Marc Steiner Show" airs from noon-2 p.m. weekdays on WJHU-FM (88.1).
Good neighbors recognized
J.R. Leonard and Brian Timmons of Federal Hill won this month's Good Neighbor Award from WPOC-FM (93.1). Leonard and Timmons were cited for taking the initiative to clean up and landscape a park in their neighborhood.
The Good Neighbor Award, co-sponsored by WPOC and Gardiner's Furniture, will be awarded monthly. Listeners are invited to fax or mail their nominations. For more information, telephone 410-889-9393, Ext. 87.
TV's top shows
Here are last week's top TV shows, according to A. C. Nielsen Co. figures:
1 51st Annual Emmy Awards Fox 11.7
2 Dateline, Tuesday NBC 9.1
3 60 Minutes II CBS 8.8
4 60 Minutes CBS 8.6
5 ER NBC 8.5
5 (tie) Everybody Loves
Raymond CBS 8.5
5 (tie) Frasier NBC 8.5
8 Friends NBC 8.3
9 20/20-Friday ABC 8.0
9 (tie) JAG CBS 8.0
11 20/20-Wednesday ABC 7.8
11 (tie) Just Shoot Me NBC 7.8
13 Becker CBS 7.6
13 (tie) Dateline Friday NBC 7.6
13 (tie) Law & Order NBC 7.6
16 Emmy Awards Pre-
Show-Part II Fox 7.5
17 (tie) Dateline Wednesday NBC 7.4
18 The Drew Carey Show ABC 7.3
19 (tie) 20/20-Monday ABC 7.1
20 60 Minutes II CBS 7.0
The rating is the percentage of homes equipped with a TV in use.