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Syndie sitcoms melt in the heat

NEW YORK — Warm weather lured many people away from their favorite syndicated TV shows during the week ended May 11.

Even the three powerhouse sitcom reruns — “Home Improvement,” “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” — lost viewers, according to the weekly national Nielsens. Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” equaled its low for the season, falling 4% to an 8.6 rating (although it was up by 10% from the same week a year ago). Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” dropped 5% to a 7.0, a 1% decline from last year. Twentieth TV’s “Simpsons” fell 2% to a 6.2, but that’s a gain of 15% over year-ago ratings.

Three other sitcoms that started in syndication last September declined to their lowest ratings of the season: Columbia TriStar’s “Mad About You” was off 5%, to a 4.2; Warner Bros.’ “Martin” went down 3%, to a 2.6; and Warner Bros.’ “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” slid 11%, to a 1.6.

The highest-rated talkshow, King World’s “Oprah,” took the biggest fall, plunging 15% to a 7.1, which was 12% down from last year. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell Show” was off by 2%, to a 4.6. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” also dropped 2%, to a 4.4; that, however, was a gain of 10% from last year.

Among the other talkshows, Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” crept up to a 4.4 — 2% above last week and 16% up from last year. Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” climbed 5%, to a 4.2, which was off 7% from last year. Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” got a 4.0, up 3% from last week and down 7% from last year. Paramount’s “Maury Povich” fell 12% to a 3.6, off 3% from last year. Universal’s “Jerry Springer” slid 9%, to a 3.0, but that’s 3% ahead of last year. Tribune’s “Geraldo” managed only a 2.0, which is 5% off last week’s pace and 13% down from last year.

The two highest-rated series in syndication, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” both from King World, also suffered in the week’s numbers. “Wheel” wound up with an 11.0, off 4% from a week ago and off 3% from a year ago. “Jeopardy!” went down 12% to an 8.8, off 8% from last year.

Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” slid 7% to a 5.5, off 5% from last year. King World’s “Inside Edition” declined 7% to a 4.2 — its lowest rating of the season so far — with the yearly decline at 21%. Paramount’s “Hard Copy” finished with a 3.8, down 5% from last week and 14% from last year. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was off 3% both for the week and for the year, ending up at a 3.4. King World’s “American Journal” actually went up by 3%, to a 3.0, but that’s down 12% from a year ago.

The weekly action hours were a mixed bag. The No. 1 “Xena: Warrior Princess,” from Universal, fell 10% to a 6.0, up 28% from last year. Paramount’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” jumped 8% to a 5.2, but down 2% from last year. Universal’s “Hercules” was flat year to year at a 5.0, down 17% from last week. All American’s “Baywatch” fell 15% to a 3.5, down 10% from a year ago. MGM’s “Outer Limits” gained 6% to a 3.4, off 6% from last year.

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