Syndie talkshow strips waged a fierce fight for fifth place during the week ending Aug. 11, according to Nielsen’s latest national syndie ratings report.

Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake,” Buena Vista TV’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” and Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” were in a dead heat with a 3.9 household rating for fifth place in the yak-pack standings. Paramount’s “Maury Povich” and Universal’s “Jerry Springer” were right behind, tied with a 3.8.

The only talker to enjoy any real elbow room from the competition that week was King World’s “Oprah Winfrey.” As usual, “Oprah” towered above her talk compadres with a 6.9 household rating, marking an 11% increase over the previous week but a 4% decrease from the comparable week last year.

‘Jones’ even: ‘Raphael’ gains

Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” hung on to the No. 2 spot for the third straight week, despite a 4% week-to-week drop to a 4.5. Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” posted a 5% gain over the previous week, and 22% over year-ago, to land at a 4.4. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” fell 13% week-to-week from a 4.7 to a 4.1. U’s high-flying “Jerry Springer” had a little wind let out of his sail, dipping from a 3.9 to a 3.8, after hitting record-high ratings over the past three weeks.

At the top of the syndie ratings chart, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” spun a 9.4, down a hair from the previous week’s 9.6, while KW’s “Jeopardy!” inched up week-to-week to an 8.3.

The top access magazine shows staged a rally from the previous week, although all were off from their year-ago marks. Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” climbed 4% to a 5.4; King World’s “Inside Edition” gained 5% to a 4.4, while Par’s “Hard Copy” was up 6% to a 3.6. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was flat with a 3.5. King World’s “American Journal” fell 3% to a 2.8 and NBC/Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” dropped 4% to a 2.2.

Off-network sitcoms were mostly unchanged from week to week. Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” was flat with a 7.5; Col TriStar’s “Seinfeld” was up 3% to a 6.6. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” dropped 3% to a 5.9, marking an 18% spike over year-ago. Col TriStar’s “Mad About You” was down 5% to a 3.7.

Reality strips off

For reality strips, it was a bad week for law enforcement. Twentieth TV’s “Cops” skidded 24% from the previous week’s 2.9 to a 2.2, while its companion, “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,” fell off 14% to a 1.8. MGM’s “LAPD” took a 20% hit, falling to a 1.2. Par’s “Real TV” held steady with a 3.0, as did Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” with a 2.5.

Among the weeklies, Universal’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess” finally showed some signs of wear and tear after a summer of reruns. “Xena” was off 10% from the previous week with a 5.4; “Hercules” slipped 12% to a 4.5. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” hit a new low for the season with a 13% drop to a 3.9, tying with All American TV’s “Baywatch.”

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