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Newbies go out for a spin.

The spin's about to hit the fan.

While the fall TV season doesn't technically start for two more weeks, Sept. 5 is shaping up to be a Super Tuesday for the small screen, with big changes taking place. There's Katie Couric's CBS debut, Rosie O'Donnell's first day on "The View" and the first night of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch's MyNetwork TV.

More than evolutionary tweaks, these are big rolls of the dice, with much at stake for the execs behind the decisions. So when the first Nielsen numbers trickle in on Sept. 6, expect the flacks to be out in force, trying to put the best face on the early results.

Here's what to watch for:

COURIC: The evening news biz moves at a glacial pace, and it will be tough for Couric to outperform Brian Williams and Charles Gibson overnight. Still, if the much-hyped Katie-cast doesn't budge out of third place for its first broadcast, the Thursday headlines could be brutal.

ROSIE: "The View" competes against a slew of syndie skeins, so look for ABC Day-time execs to tout any Nielsen jumps in big markets like Gotham and L.A. Overall, anything less than a 10% bump vs. year-ago figures would be a disappointment.

MYNET: Hollywood types are convinced Ailes' novela net will tank. MyNet execs have decided not to report next-day national ratings, choosing to release its numbers a week later, with daytime soaps and latenight shows. That will force the media to focus on overnight numbers from big cities, where MyNet figures are likely to be best.

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Title Annotation:Smoke & Mirrors: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE BIZ'S DEALS, DECISIONS AND DIVERSIONS; Katie Couric's CBS debut; Rosie O'Donnell's first day on "The View"; MyNetwork TV premiere
Author:Adalian, Josef
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 4, 2006
Words:261
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