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CBS sweeps up young viewers

NEW YORK -- CBS claimed a ''sweeps" month victory among youthful viewers for the first time since 1980 -- a milestone even the network's top executive never thought he'd see.

With two days to go, CBS had a comfortable lead among viewers ages 18 to 49 during November, one of four months where Nielsen Media Research ratings are used to set local advertising rates. ABC and NBC were fighting for second.

CBS has been the most popular network among all viewers for the past few years, but the 18-to-49-year-old demographic is the industry's chief currency. Advertisers pay a premium for youth, and CBS's generally older audience has been a handicap.

''We are about to accomplish something that many thought was impossible for this network," said CBS chairman Leslie Moonves.

Moonves said it vindicated CBS's strategy of trying to appeal to the widest possible audience in hopes the younger viewers follow, instead of simply pandering to youth.

A classic teaser episode -- who's going to be killed on Wisteria Lane? -- led ABC's ''Desperate Housewives" to a series-best 27.2 million viewers Sunday. It was the most popular show on television during Thanksgiving week.

Stewart, Burnett cook up TV plans

Martha Stewart is making big plans to return to the small screen next year following her five-month gig in a West Virginia prison.

Sources said Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, having tapped former ABC Entertainment chief Susan Lyne as its new CEO this month, is close to sealing a deal with NBC for a prime-time reality series to feature the domestic diva. It will be produced by ''Survivor" Svengali Mark Burnett.

Specifics of the series are still murky, but sources said that it would have an elimination-style competition element along the lines of Burnett's ''Survivor" and ''The Apprentice."

Separately, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is in negotiations with top syndicators to revive Stewart's daily show, which was effectively canceled in May after she was convicted of obstructing justice in an insider stock-trading investigation.

Burnett, who announced plans to collaborate with Stewart on new TV projects in September, also is on board to produce the new syndicated show.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Bergen's back

Five-time Emmy winner Candice Bergen is coming aboard ABC's freshman series ''Boston Legal" in her first regular series role since ''Murphy Brown" left the air in 1998.

Bergen will join the cast in the show's 12th episode, likely to air in January. She'll play Shirley Schmidt, a founding partner in the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt who's been away for some time.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood trade papers report Lake Bell will leave the series at midseason. Bell plays Sally Heep, an attorney at the firm who briefly dated Alan Shore (James Spader). Her role has decreased in recent weeks, however.

ZAP2IT.COM

Noth to return as Mike Logan

Detective Mike Logan may soon be ending his exile.

Chris Noth, who played Logan on the first five seasons of ''Law & Order," is set to reprise the role on ''Law & Order: Criminal Intent" later this season. Noth's episode is set for January, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports.

News of Noth's guest spot has also led to some speculation that NBC and ''L&O" producers are considering him as a potential replacement for ''Criminal Intent" star Vincent D'Onofrio, who has suffered fainting spells recently.

ZAP2IT.COM

Globe on NECN

Here's what's happening on ''Around the Globe" today:

12:30 p.m.: ''Globe at Home" -- Travel writer Tom Haines and photographer Essdras Suarez on the latest installment of their Crossing Divides series: ''Asia, Around the Falls From Cambodia to Laos."

4 p.m.: ''Around the Globe"

6:30 p.m.: ''New England Business Day"

8 p.m.: ''NewsNight"

Schedule is subject to change.

Talk of the dial

Noon WUMB-FM (91.9) -- ''Live at Noon." Guests: Doris Muramatsu, Nate Borofsky, and Tammy Greenstein perform.

Other radio highlights

8 a.m. WGBH-FM (89.7) -- ''Classics in the Morning." D'Albert's Der Improvisator: Overture; Telemann's Violin Sonata in F; Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, K. 453; excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Op. 20.

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