His notoriety will pull viewers away from ''West Wing'' and ''Temptation Island,'' says Ken Tucker

By Ken Tucker
February 22, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Eminem: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Why Eminem’s Grammy appearance will shake up TV ratings

The biggest question facing anyone interested in handicapping the TV ratings this week is whether Wednesday night’s CBS Grammy Awards show — with Eminem’s Best Album nomination supplying more publicity/ notoriety/ censure than anything that musty old ceremony has attracted in years — will beat tough competition from the return of Fox’s ”Temptation Island” (a prime time celebration of the Eminem ethos of making your mate suffer) and NBC’s double shot hits ”The West Wing” (9 p.m.) and ”Law & Order” (10 p.m.).

See, although the Grammys start at 8 p.m., the Best Album award is always buried toward the end of the show, the better to build suspense. Putting the curiosity factor surrounding Eminem — and his tentatively scheduled, equally controversial performance with Elton John — in the heart of prime time is going to tug at the curiosity of people who normally would be engrossed in the ”Temptation” tussles of Ytossie and Taheed, and even tempt those of us who are looking forward to seeing Mary Kaye Place guest star on ”West Wing.”

My guess is that CBS, which usually programs floundering fare like ”Bette,” ”Welcome to New York,” and a TV movie in this time period, is going to see a big jump in ratings — that is, if Eminem, ever unpredictable, shows up. CBS’ll probably attract more viewers than ”Temptation,” but not necessarily in the young demo group that advertisers prize: Remember, for every Eminem or ‘N Sync on board, there’s the umpteenth Faith Hill or Ricky Martin nomination.

Personally, I’ll be watching the Grammys and taping ”West Wing” and, yes, ”Temptation.” I can’t wait to see if Eminem and Elton pull off that duet, but I’m really looking forward to the Grammy performance by the one pop culture figure who could appear not only on the Grammys but also ”Temptation Island” or ”The West Wing’ and not seem out of place: Madonna. Go ahead, start your razzing.