<p>Wichita State celebrates</p>

Wichita State celebrates

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: NCAA overrun leads CBS Sunday, 'Last Man on Earth' rises

'Secrets & Lies' also rises for ABC

Fast National ratings for Sunday, March 22, 2015.

Boosted by a half-hour of NCAA Tournament overrun, CBS dominated Sunday overall and won a slim victory among young viewers as well.

Due to the live nature of the basketball coverage, Sunday numbers are preliminary, but at least in Fast Nationals, all three of CBS' Sunday dramas slipped overall, though "Madam Secretary" was up in the key demo and the other two were flat.

There was more positive news for FOX's "Last Man on Earth" and ABC's "Secrets & Lies," which both rose a little on Sunday.

FOX also, it should be noted, had sports inflation on Sunday thanks to 30-ish minutes of NASCAR overrun.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Max Dawson of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Max Dawson of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Max Dawson talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

Former Northwestern professor and current reality TV consultant has a lot to say about his 'Survivor' run

The "Survivor: Worlds Apart" cast was a bit short on recognizable celebrities, if your idea of "celebrity" happens to be former professional athletes or nearly-forgotten '80s TV stars.

If, however, you spend time around the world of reality TV or academia, or you spend time around those who spend their time around those worlds, there's no question that Max Dawson entered "Survivor: Worlds Apart" as the season's biggest superstar.

As a member of Northwestern's Communications department, Max taught several years of a course titled "The Tribe Has Spoken: Surviving TV’s New Reality," as well as other courses on TV, new media and the business betwixt them. Several of my critical buddies, including Mo Ryan and Myles McNutt and Erik Adams, made appearances in the "Survivor" class. Since 2013, Max has worked as a consultant for and on the reality TV industry. 

He may not be Lisa Whelchel or Jimmy Johnson, but Max Dawson is almost certainly the most public and professional a "Survivor" super-fan to ever get to appear on "Survivor."

It didn't help.

There's no question that Max got screwed by a tribal shuffle in which he and White Collar cohort Shirin found themselves on a new tribe with a significant physical disadvantage, which led to a predictable defeat in the first post-swap Immunity Challenge. 

But whatever dismal cards the "Survivor" Gods dealt him, Max dealt himself some questionable cards. Did he really need to be lecturing Jenn on the Zodiac signs of "Survivor" winners? Were there alternatives to soaking his warty, ray-stung feet in the tribal water pot? [He says no.] Could he have done a better job of shoring up his alliance with Carolyn? [He says yes.] Should he have separated a bit more from Shirin and not become a two-headed super-fan target? 

This is one of those exit interviews in which I probably had enough questions for a four-hour conversation, but there was less time to get to general state-of-"Survivor" questions than I might have liked. Oh well.

Click through for my full Q&A with Max Dawson, beginning with my meta question about "Survivor" exit interviews...

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Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'Glee' ends with a whimper, 'Shark Tank' leads ABC Friday

The 'Glee' series finale stays below The Mulaney Line

Fast National ratings for Friday, March 20, 2015.

The series finale of "Glee" got a 30 percent audience bump for FOX, but in practical numbers that meant growth of just over 500,000 viewers, while the former sensation grew only 0.1 in the key demo and failed to hit The Mulaney Line.

With the NCAA Tournament failing to generate any big Friday night upsets, CBS' basketball coverage had a weak night and "Shark Tank" was able to lead ABC to primetime wins in most measures. 

Over on The CW, "Hart of Dixie" was up from recent airings in viewers, while the pilot for "iZombie" got a solid encore sampling.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>Lindsey of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Lindsey of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Lindsey Cascaddan talks 'Survivor: Worlds Apart'

One of this week's bootees discusses Rodney, Dan, Mike and the Blue Collar Tribe

It's likely that Lindsey Cascaddan's "Survivor: Worlds Apart" run will be remembered for her disagreements with the men in her Blue Collar tribe, escalating frustrations that had her targeting first buffoonish Dan, then slave-driving Mike and finally boorish Rodney in three consecutive episodes.

After interviewing the 24-year-old Florida hairdresser, I'm disappointed with didn't get to see more. Lindsey's read on her male tribemates is perceptive and nuanced in a way that Lindsey was never really given the chance to be on "Survivor." 

Instead, Lindsey was constantly on the defensive, fighting with the guys while simultaneously expressing great Blue Collar pride. 

And in her exit interview, even while lamenting the sexism she fought at the Blue Collar camp, Lindsey thinks there was a valuable lesson that she was able to convey through her experience, even if she wasn't able to stick around for very long.

Click for the full Q&A and see if that lesson comes through...

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<p>Ben Mendelsohn of &quot;Bloodline&quot;</p>

Ben Mendelsohn of "Bloodline"

Credit: Netflix

Interview: 'Bloodline' star Ben Mendelsohn on black sheep and American accents

'Animal Kingdom' veteran also talks about his top-notch dancing partners

For many viewers, Ben Mendelsohn will probably be the surprise breakout star of Netflix's "Bloodline," as the Australian actor regularly steals scenes the likes of Emmy winner Kyle Chander, multiple Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, Oscar winner Sissy Spacek, and Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard.

But then there will be another subset of viewers who have followed Mendelsohn's career since "The Year My Voice Broke" or the recent career explosion prompted by "Animal Kingdom," which has included roles in "The Dark Knight Rises," "Killing Them Softly" or "The Place Beyond the Pines." For those fans, Mendelsohn is an award-winning character actor with a resumé that can stack up against anybody in the "Bloodline" cast.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Mendelsohn's credits are filled with ne'er-do-wells, black sheep and shady characters of ill-repute and Danny Rayburn, his character on "Bloodline," is no exception. In Mendelsohn's hands, Danny is also charming, calculating and difficult to read, serving as the flashpoint for all manner of family discord in the Florida Keys. I've only seen three episodes of "Bloodline," but I don't have a clue if Danny Rayburn is going to turn out to be the show's villain or, possibly, its hero. 

Although I've been a fan of many of Mendelsohn's roles, his "Bloodline" performance was enough of a stand-out that I wanted to sit down with him at TCA press tour back in January. The unfailingly polite and frequently profane actor discussed why he can't look at characters as "black sheep," the challenges of charting out a character arc in a show as twist-filled as "Bloodline" and the importance of an American accent that wouldn't "f*** people up too much out of it."

"Bloodline" premieres on Netflix on Friday (March 20). Check out the full Ben Mendelsohn Q&A below...

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Credit: Showtime

Emmy appeal sends 'Orange Is The New Black' to Drama, credibility out the window

Go home, Emmy category classifiers. You're drunk.

On Friday (March 20) morning, I assembled a one-person appeals board and by a unanimous decision, I've decided that the TV Academy and its genre classification system is/are a Comedy, because darned if those clowns don't make me laugh, which is more than I can say for undisputed comedy "Nurse Jackie."

For a few years, the TV Academy has had difficulties with Emmy classification, because nobody on the Emmy rules committee is capable of accepting that sometimes things that are dramatic can also offer comedic elements and sometimes things that are comedic can often have dramatic elements and sometimes things that have a running time of between 44 minutes and an hour can be comedies and, in occasional extremes, it's even been known for half-hour things to be dramatic. It's almost as if life itself is neither wholly dramatic or wholly comedic and sometimes tone is fungible.

But don't expect for the TV Academy to understand that. Sensing that its membership was too dumb to recognize tone and quality without empirical qualifications, a rule change was made last month.

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<p>Thursday&#39;s &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Thursday's "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: NCAA Tournament action, 'American Idol' lead Thursday

'Blacklist' rises for NBC, but 'Scandal' and 'American Crime' dip for ABC

Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 19, 2015.

A two-hour performance night for "American Idol" was up from last week and helped FOX win Thursday overall, but it was NCAA Tournament action leading CBS to victory in the key demographic, at least in preliminary numbers.

Due to the nature of live events, these are time period figures and it's entirely possible that ABC, a close second in the key demo in Fast Nationals, may move up to first in Finals, despite down weeks for both "Scandal" and "American Crime."

NBC got Thursday's positive news as "Dateline: The Real Blacklist," "The Blacklist" and even "The Slap" all got bumps without scripted competition from CBS.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Kyle Chandler of &quot;Bloodline&quot;</p>

Kyle Chandler of "Bloodline"

Credit: Netflix

Interview: 'Bloodline' creators talk casting and their new Netflix home

Kessler, Zelman and Kessler discuss binge-viewing, secret-keeping and more

Whether or not you happened to be a fan, it's hard to deny that "Damages" was, in many ways, ahead of its time.

"Damages" was intensely serialized within seasons, but then each season was largely a reboot, bringing in a handful of big name supporting actors to play along with Glenn Close and Rose Byrne.

FX chief John Landgraf admitted that it was a hard show for the network to handle and maintain, because viewers couldn't jump in midway through a season and other viewers would store up three or four or 13 episodes and then plow through them well after the Nielsen measuring windows circa 2009 were closed.

In effect, "Damages" was a show designed for binge-viewing and anthology storytelling at a time when being a binge-favorite would get you cancelled by FX and shuffled off to DirecTV. [FX was also a producer on "Damages," which incentivized them to keep the show going in some form, even if it wasn't working in the landscape of that moment.]

"Damages" creators Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman didn't know it at the time, but they were already making a show that was designed for Netflix, not that Netflix knew it at the time either. 

Since "Damages" ended its five-season run, Netflix has gone from red-envelop deliverer of DVDs to an original programming behemoth build on binge-watching and ratings-ignoring, so it's not surprising that KZK, as the Kesslers and Zelman are often dubbed, have made Netflix the home for their new drama "Bloodline."

Superficially "Damages: Florida Keys," "Bloodline" is a story of buried secrets and ambiguously motivated crime set against the backdrop of a mostly close-knit family that reaches a breaking point after gathering to celebrate a pier being named after the parents. The absurdly packed cast includes Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, Ben Mendelsohn, Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard.

In January, I sat down with the KZK team to discuss finding a home on Netflix, the unique challenges of working in the Florida Keys and several key casting points on the twisty series.

DISCLOSURE: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman are a collective unit making up KZK. As they say in this interview, they have a singular collaborative process that doesn't include strict delineation of responsibilities. They also have very, very, very similar voices and although they each identified themselves at the beginning of my interview, distinguishing between them a month later, even with carefully taken notes, is an inexact science. I've done the best I could and if Glenn, Todd or Daniel would like to clarify that while one was attributed with saying something that the other clearly stated, I'll happily change. These are the sentiments of the KZK unit, but there may be a time or two my Kesslers are reversed and I apologize sincerely.

Check out the full Q&A below. "Bloodline" premieres on Netflix in its bingable entirety on Friday, March 20...

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<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Top 11</p>

The "American Idol" Top 11

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 14 - Top 10 Movie Night and Results

Plus, Jennifer Lopez promotes her new movie with a performance

Sorry, but I'm still annoyed that we sent Sarina-Joi Crowe packing. It's not that she didn't, at least on some level, deserve to go. She gave a bad performance at the beginning of a long episode, which is an easy path to being forgotten and being eliminated.

Still, "American Idol" lost a singer with almost limitless upside and we kept at least four or five people who almost certainly will never have anywhere near Sarina-Joi's potential.

Oh well.

After dedicating Wednesday night to two ridiculously high-rated hours of "Empire," FOX is turning Thursday over for a sure-to-be-lower-rated two hours of "American Idol" with a Movie Night theme. This is always one of the show's fuzziest and least justifiable themes and tonight we're using the theme as a hook so that Jennifer Lopez can perform the song she has in an upcoming movie.

Click through and follow along!

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<p>Cookie is pleased with the &quot;Empire&quot; finale ratings</p>

Cookie is pleased with the "Empire" finale ratings

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: Huge 'Empire' finale hits series highs for FOX Wednesday

Two-hour 'Survivor' puts CBS in second for the night

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

As expected, FOX's "Empire" couldn't complete its first season without doing what it does best: Rising.

"Empire" capped off a remarkable spring run by topping 16.5 million viewers and rising to a 6.4 rating in the key demo for its Wednesday finale, leading FOX to a rout in all measures. 

And because this is "Empire" we're talking about, the 8 p.m. hour for the finale already hit series highs and then the 9 p.m. hour rose from there, as "Empire" neared 17.5 million viewers in its final hour.

Most of the competition wisely got out of the way of the "Empire" juggernaut, though "Survivor" pretty much held its own and "Arrow" and "Supernatural" were down a bit. With "Survivor" doing two hours, "CSI: Cyber" had to air without a "Criminal Minds" lead-in and took a big drop.

Coming out of two hours of comedy repeats, ABC got surprisingly decent numbers for the special "The Untold Story of 'The Sound of Music.'"

On to Wednesday's ratings...

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