“Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” surged to their highest rating levels ever during the sweeps week ended Nov. 12, according to the Nielsen national syndication barter rankings.

Most off-net sitcoms enjoyed higher rankings, thanks to sweeps promotion and the end of daylight-saving time.

Overall, Buena Vista TVs “Home Improvement” continued to lead the pack, remaining at its high of 10.1 for the second straight week. “Seinfeld” rose 4% to 7.6, while Homer & Co.- in its second syndie season – climbed 4% to an all-time high of 7.0 (up from a 5.3 five weeks ago).

Magazines were little changed, while Twentieth TV’s “Cops” led the reality strip set, gaining 5% to a season high of 4.1 on the strength of several direct-to-syndication sweeps episodes.

New reality

Among the new reality strips, Twentieth’s “America’s Most Wanted: Final Justice” climbed 3% to 3.1, while MGM’s “LAPD” was flat at 2.2 and New Line’s “Court TV: Inside America’s Courts” was unchanged at 1.4.

Of the daytime chatshow set, nine were up, six flat and six down for the week.

Pour talkers experienced double-digit gains, with three reaching season highs: Paramount’s “Montel Williams,” up 16% to 4.4; Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer,” rising 13% to 3.4; and Tribune’s “Geraldo,” jumping 12% to 2.8 (but down 18% from a year ago after a temporary downgrade in Los Angeles and the loss of several key slots to freshman talkers).

Multimedia’s “Donahue,” which has been in the doldrums with huge year-to-year ratings losses (50% this week) and the loss of its New York and San Francisco clearances, leaped 18% to 2.0.

The biggest declines among the talk group were Columbia TriStar’s “Tempestt Bledsoe” (sliding 11% to 1.7) and Twentieth TV’s “Gordon Elliott” (down 9% to 2.1 and 9% year-to-year).

Rookies rocky

In the metered markets, nine shows – all veterans – improved on their lead-ins. Other than “Donahue” and “Gordon Elliott,” all the talkers falling from their lead-ins were either freshmen or in their first full seasons.

The biggest declines from metered market lead-ins were posted by Rysher’s “George & Alana” (down 42%), Warner Bros.’ “Carnie Wilson” (off 28%), Buena Vista TV’s “Danny Bonaduce” (dropping 24%) and Twentieth TV’s “Gabrielle Carteris” (declining 22%).

At the top of the talkshow list, King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” rose 7% to a season high of 9.4, but fell 5% from its year-ago mark of 9.9.

‘Jenny’ better by the year

Warner Bros.’ double-run “Jenny Jones” was all alone in second place, flat at a 4.8 and 12% higher than last year.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” slipped 2% to 4.7 and fell into a tie for third with Col’s “Ricki Lake,” which was flat with multiple double runs. Compared with year-ago results, the older-skewing “Regis” was up 4% and the younger-leaning “Ricki” was down 8%.

Par’s “Maury Povich” edged up 5% to 4.2, but was flat year-to-year. Multimedia’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” had a mixed week, rising 5% to 3.9 but dropping 15% from last year. “Carnie” inched down 4% to 2.2, while “Perez” rose 6% to 1.7.

Four talkers with the softest ratings each wound up at a 1.5 for the week: KW’s “Rolonda Watts” (down 6%, and 21% from last year), All American’s “Richard Bey” (off 6% in its first nationwide season), Genesis’ “Mark Walberg” (up 7% week-to-week) and “Gabrielle” (flat). At a 1.3, “Danny” was flat for the week.

Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh,” which plays all over the board, was flat at 2.7 and down a whopping 25% from a year ago. It also lost 10% from its lead-in. In latenight, BVTV’s “Stephanie Miller” remained flat at 1.3, its low of the season, and lost a staggering 60% from its metered market lead-in. Turner’s “Lauren Hutton and…” declined a tick to 0.8 and plummeted 40% from its lead-in.

Looking at the new weeklies. Par’s top-rated “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (7.0) fell 13% from last year. It was followed by MCA TV’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” which tied its high of 6.4 set the week ended March 5.

MCA’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” and All American’s “Baywatch” each wound up with a 5.4, with “Xena” up 4% and “Baywatch” down 22% from a year ago.

Hours reaching season highs: BVTV’s “Land’s End (up 18% to 4.7), All American’s “Baywatch Nights” (rising 21% to 4.0), Rysher’s “One West Waikiki” (gaining 22% to 2.8) and Genesis’ “U.S. Customs: Classified” (increasing 21% to 1.7).

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