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Byline: > DAVID KRONKE

A 'Musical' tsunami

With yet another record for the "High School Musical" franchise, you can bet this is only the beginning of the onslaught expected from Disney.

"HSM2" debuted Friday night on the Disney Channel to an all-time record audience for basic cable, 17.2 million viewers. And it re-aired Saturday night and Sunday, so Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and the rest of the gang had a chance to reach millions more.

To put this in perspective: Broadcast network programs over the summer have ranked No. 1 for a week without managing even 10 million viewers, and a huge chunk of network fare hasn't drawn close to half of what "HSM2" did. And broadcast television has a far broader reach than Disney Channel has on cable -- and numerous viewing parties means the final total may have actually been much larger.

Also: The other big "teen" flick this weekend, the Apatow entertainment machine's acclaimed "Superbad" (granted, they're aimed at waaay different audiences), earned an impressive $12 million at the box office on Friday. But that still translates into fewer than 2 million tickets sold.

Other records: It's the all-time TV champ in terms of kid viewers 6 to 11, only the 2004 Super Bowl had more tween viewers, and it's the largest audience for a Friday night TV show on any platform in more than five years. (Damn, these Disney folks are good at uncorking statistics.)

Oprah: Empowering all but her minions

Oprah Winfrey is taking the lessons she learned from her book-club offering "Cane River" and applying them to members of her production crew: According to the New York Daily News' Page Six, one employee alone clocked a whopping 800 hours of overtime in a mere four-month period.

"Many of our employees contribute significant hours of overtime during our production season. This is quite common within the television industry," a publicist blithely informed Page Six, confirming the overtime.

So the Page Sixers hit the Dashboard function on their iMacs and did the math: If said employee worked a five-day week, she averaged 18.5 hours of work a day, whereas were she working all week with no days off, she was only clocking 13.2 hours a day. Slacker.

As we noted, TV Guide reported that Oprah pulls down $260 million per year. Would it kill her to take a pay cut of, say, a million a year and hire a couple of extra people so the rest of her team can have lives?
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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 21, 2007
Words:417
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