‘Xena’ getting stronger

NEW YORK — Universal’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” solidified its status as the No. 1 syndicated weekly action hour, harvesting a 6.7 rating in the national Nielsens for the week ended May 4. That’s a 22% increase over the previous week’s “Xena” rating, and a 34% jump over the same week a year ago.

The other hit action hour from Universal, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” also chalked up a banner week with a 6.0 rating, up 18% from the prior week and up 22% from the year-ago rating.

Among the syndicated strips, King World’s “Oprah” stood out in the talkshow arena, picking up its best rating in seven weeks (8.4), which is a 6% gain over last week’s and an 11% boost from last year’s rating. The driving force was the April 30 “Oprah” featuring as guests Ellen DeGeneres and her lover, Anne Heche.

In the magazine category, Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” was ahead of its competitors with a 5.9, up 2% from last week and even with a year ago.

The three dominant sitcom reruns delivered a mixed bag. Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” got a 9.0, up 5% from last week and up 17% from last season. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” went down 3% to a 7.4, but that was up 6% from last year. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” got a 6.3; that’s 3% below last week’s but 16% above last year’s.

The biggest increase for a talkshow was the 14% bump to a 3.3 for “Jerry Springer,” which was also up 10% from last year’s rating. Most observers chalk up the gain to Springer’s brief headline-generating flirtation with becoming a news commentator for WMAZ, the NBC O&O in Chicago.

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