‘Copy’ scoops ‘Affair’; ‘Vicki!’ hot

Paramount’s “Hard Copy” surged past “A Current Affair” for the first time ever during the sweeps week ended Dec. 5.

The Nielsen national syndication rankings show “Copy” garnering a personal-best 7.2 and “Affair” dropping to 6.6. Its numbers were reprocessed the previous week, but the Twentieth tabmag earned a 7.2 two weeks earlier with a multipart interview with the Buttafuocos.

Shakeup at the top

The defeat for “Affair” follows Twentieth’s confirmation that three of the show’s top dogs — former “Affair” and “Hard Copy” exec producer Peter Brennan, Burt Kearns and senior producer Dick McWilliams — are being replaced by vet News Corp. newspaper exec Bill Ridley (Daily Variety, Dec. 15). Fox TV chairman-CEO Les Hinton denied the departures were tied to the show’s November performance.

Brennan and Kearns were brought in as consultants to boost the show’s sweeps ratings. And in the four weeks roughly corresponding to the local sweeps period, “Affair” barely squeaked past “Copy.”

In fact, the magazine sank 12% to 6.9 from its year-ago mark of 7.8, when it was under the direction of former exec producer John Terenzio. And “Copy” rose a healthy 19% to 6.8 from 5.7 the previous November, when Brennan was calling the shots.

Meanwhile, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” slipped 5% with a four-week average of 8.6 vs. 9.1 during the same period in November ’92.

King World’s “Inside Edition” was also soft, easing to 7.5 from last year’s 7 .6 average, while its newcomer “American Journal” finished with 4.2.

In the gameshow arena, KW’s “Wheel of Fortune” continued to defy gravity as it rose 7% over four weeks to 15.1 from last year’s 14.1.

Stablemate “Jeopardy!” also continued to flex its muscles, gaining 5% to 13.3 from 12.2.

But All American TV’s “Family Feud” slid 11% to 2.4 from its year-ago average of 2.7. Speaking of feuds, Group W’s “Vicki!” had the biggest increase of any talker during the sweeps. The program jumped 27% to a four-week average of 2.8 from 2.2.

Montel, Jenny jump

Two other talkers also made some big year-to-year leaps during November. Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” soared 25% to 2.5 from 2.0, while Viacom’s “Montel Williams” cried from happiness after a 22% increase to 3.3 from 2.7.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Multimedia’s “Donahue” took the biggest dive of any show in the rather expansive chat pack, tumbling 20% to 5.1 from 6.4 .

The leading talkshow continued to grow in size as its hostess slimmed down. KW’s “Oprah Winfrey” inched up 1% to 10.8 from 10.7, while second-place finisher “Sally Jessy Raphael” from Multimedia dipped 2% to 5.3.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” gained 5% to 4.6, while Par’s “Maury Povich” fell 2% to 4.3.

Tribune’s “Geraldo” sank 7% to 4.2 despite garnering its highest weekly rating of the season in the final week (4.5).

‘Rush’ past ‘Arsenio’

In latenight, Par’s “Arsenio Hall” felt the sting of his downgrades on Fox affiliates. The show lost 20% to an average 2.4 from his year-ago 3.0. Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” ate “Arsenio” for lunch with a 3.8 average, up 19% from last year’s 3.2.

The worst year-to-year performance of any strip (not counting Tribune’s canceled “Joan Rivers”) was Turner’s “The Wonder Years,” with the off-net strip plunging 37% to a four-week average of 2.7 from 4.3.

On the plus side, Viacom’s “Roseanne” took a hefty 16% leap to 8.0 from 6.9.

Among other off-net entries, Twentieth TV’s “Cops” came out of its first sweeps with a strong 5.6 household average and even better key demographic results (Genesis’ firstrun strip “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” captured a 3.4), while MGM’s off-net drama “In the Heat of the Night” was steaming with a 21% jump to 3.4 from the previous November’s 2.8.

In the weekly race, All American’s “Baywatch” scored a bouncy 22% increase, rising to 7.1 from 5.8. Par’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” lost 6% to 11.8, Cannell’s “Renegade” was unchanged at 4.9 and Rysher TPE’s “Highlander” rose 3% to 3.9.

Turning to new weeklies, Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” looked sharp at 9 .1, Warner Bros.’ “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” grabbed a 5.1, Par’s “The Untouchables” fired a 4.8 and WB’s “Time Trax” registered a futuristic 4.4.

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