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‘Earth’ celestial, but ‘Xena’ rules

No doubt about it, the Gene Roddenberry name can still open a sci-fi drama.

“Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict,” the new TV offering from the late creator of “Star Trek,” premiered at warp speed earlier this month, landing a 4.9 national household rating, according to Nielsen’s syndie ratings report for the week ending Oct. 19.

Roddenberry, who died in 1991, wrote several scripts for the futuristic “Earth” in the mid-1970s, but the project never got off the ground. The long-forgotten material was unearthed last year by Roddenberry’s widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who is an executive producer of the new series from Tribune Entertainment and Atlantis Films.

The stellar bow makes “Earth” the highest-rated new syndie weekly of the season, although ratings for the show’s second episode dropped significantly in Nielsen’s overnight metered markets.

In key demographic categories, “Earth” came in second with a 3.4 in adults 18-49 to Universal TV’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” and another Roddenberry creation, Paramount’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which tied with a 3.8.

“Xena” remained on top of the syndie drama heap with a 5.6 household rating in the second week of its third season. The veteran “DS9” followed with a 5.2, topping “Xena” pal “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” which tumbled 13% from its season preem the previous week to a 4.8.

Also posting big numbers was an “X-Files” clip special that aired the week prior to the syndie broadcast bow of “X-Files” reruns. Twentieth TV’s hourlong “Secrets of the X-Files” spec snared a 4.5 household rating and a 2.6 in adults 18-49. The off-net “Walker, Texas Ranger,” distributed by Columbia TriStar, tied “Secrets” with a 4.5 household rating, marking a 13% increase over the previous week.

Other syndie weekly premieres during the week were Universal’s “Team Knight Rider,” which revved up a 2.5 household rating, and MGM’s “Fame L.A.,” which conjured a 1.4.

Among frosh syndie strips, Eyemark Entertainment’s “Martha Stewart Living” was flat at a 2.5 household rating, while Warner Bros.’ “The People’s Court” upticked 5% to a 2.3. Eyemark’s “Gayle King” fell 14% from the previous week to a 1.8. Worldvision’s “Pictionary” dropped 7% to a 1.3. “The Home Team With Terry Bradshaw” and “The Arthel & Fred Show” were flat with a 0.8 and 0.5, respectively.

In latenight, Columbia TriStar’s “Vibe” sank to a new low (1.2) in the week before comedian Sinbad replaced Chris Spencer as host. Buena Vista TV’s “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” was flat with a 1.6.

In the daytime talkshow world, King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” dipped 1% from the previous week to a 7.0. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” rose 5% to a 4.4. Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” hit its highest rating in six weeks with an 11% hike to a 4.1. Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” also jumped 11% to a 4.0.

U’s “Jerry Springer” was unchanged at a 3.7. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” fell 3% to a 3.5 to tie with Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones.” Par’s “Maury Povich” emerged from a slump, soaring 19% week-to-week to a 3.1. Col TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” eased 4% to a 2.6, while Tribune’s “Geraldo Rivera” was flat with a 1.8.

At the top of the syndie charts, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” spun a 3% increase to an 11.2; “Jeopardy!” climbed 9% to a 9.3.

In the reality field, Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” continued to shine, hitting a new all-time high with a 3.0, but Par’s “Real TV” stayed on top with a 3.2.

Among access magazine shows, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the pack, as usual, with a 4% week-to-week gain to a 5.7. Par’s “Hard Copy” surged to its highest rating of the season, a 3.4, on the strength of its series on the death of singer John Denver.

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