NEW FACES OF 1997

'Incorrect,' 'Beach' Lauer do well in bows

NEW YORK “Politically Incorrect” bowed nicely on ABC Monday night, earning strong sampling in a new latenight timeslot for the web. NBC’s new soap also did well in its debut, and Matt Lauer scored in his first day taking over from Bryant Gumbel on “Today.”

Humorous panel-discussion show “Incorrect” earned a 4.0 rating and 15 share in metered-market overnights, holding the lead-in from “Nightline.” In the common 12:05 to 12:35 a.m. time period, “Incorrect” led the second half of NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (3.7/13) and CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” (3.0/11).

In Los Angeles, the show posted a 3.5/13 on KABC and in New York, WABC pulled a 4.5/13.

Monday also saw the launch of NBC’s Aaron Spelling sudser, “Sunset Beach,” which premiered to a 3.0/10 in overnight markets. Airing at various times, the heavily promoted soap improved its time periods by 17% vs. the November sweeps.

Airing in different timeslots in many markets, “Sunset” pulled a 2.7/8 at 2 p.m. in L.A., a weak second to ABC’s “General Hospital” but a stronger 5.0/17 in New York, where it won the hour with no soap competition from 12 to 12:30.

In another premiere of sorts, Matt Lauer’s official debut as co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” scored a 5.6/24 in fast national ratings, via Nielsen, handily widening the margin over ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which had a 3.8/16. While not faring as well as Friday’s Bryant Gumbel sendoff (6.8/30), the Lauer bow improved “Today’s” fourth-quarter average by 14%.

“Incorrect,” hosted by comedian Bill Maher, is moving over from a three-year run on cable’s Comedy Central. In the Alphabet web bow, Maher tweaked ABC parent Walt Disney Co., mocking Disneyland’s retooling of its Pirates of the Caribbean ride to make its “wenching” pirates more politically correct.

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