TV Article

Smart Programming

Elizabeth Smart beats Jessica Lynch in TV faceoff. CBS' Smart movie edges its NBC competitor in overall audience but ties among younger viewers

On Sunday night, TV viewers had a choice between two high-profile November ratings sweeps month biopics about abducted blond teenagers who endured horrific ordeals before being returned safely to their families. In the end, audiences preferred the more lurid of the two tales, CBS' ''The Elizabeth Smart Story,'' over NBC's ''Saving Jessica Lynch.'' According to early Nielsen estimates, ''Smart'' drew 15.7 million viewers to ''Lynch'''s 14.9 million, though both movies tied among the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. The ''Smart'' victory was all the more impressive since, in many markets, its start was delayed by 35 minutes because of CBS' football coverage.

The real-life Smart (the Utah girl kidnapped by polygamists) and Lynch (the rescued Iraq war POW) both seem to have been fixtures on TV all month, making the rounds of the news and interview shows. Actually, Smart recently wrapped her TV tour, while Lynch's begins Tuesday night with her interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's ''Primetime,'' followed by an chat with Katie Couric on NBC's ''Today'' on Wednesday and a visit to David Letterman's ''Late Show'' on CBS on Friday.

Originally posted Nov 11, 2003