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Talkers take a dive

Chatfests, sitcoms slip in syndie ratings

Daytime talkshows headed south in the week ending Aug. 17, when most chatfests were in reruns, according to Nielsen’s latest syndie ratings report.

King World’s perennial yak-pack leader “Oprah Winfrey” showed the most resolve among syndie talkers, easing 1% to a 6.8 national household rating from a 6.9 the previous week. Compared with the same period last year, “Oprah” was off 3%.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” and Universal’s “Jerry Springer” posted the biggest week-to-week declines. “Live” sank 13% from a 3.9 to a 3.4, putting it in eighth place among the 10 surviving syndie talkers of the 1996-97 season.

“Jerry Springer” also dove 13% from a 3.8 to a 3.3, landing in ninth place. Nonetheless, “Jerry” was up 27% over his year-ago mark.

Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” held on to the No. 2 spot behind “Oprah” for the sixth straight week, in spite of a 2% week-to-week drop from a 4.5 to a 4.4. In year-to-year comparisons, “Jenny” was up 7%.

Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” and Paramount’s “Montel Williams” tied for third with a 4.0. “Sally” was down 9% from the previous week but up 14% from her year-ago mark. “Montel” was off 2% from week-to-week and down 7% from year-ago.

‘Rosie’ realities

Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” stayed in fifth place with a 3% drop from the previous week’s 3.9 to a 3.8. Although she’s scored major timeslot upgrades over the past year, “Rosie” was down 7% from the same period last year. At the same time, year-to-year performance comparisons on the show are tricky this month because “Rosie” was riding high with original episodes in August ’96, just two months after her impressive premiere in June.

Paramount’s “Maury Povich” fell 3% week-to-week to a 3.7, which also marked a 3% decline from year-ago. Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” dropped 8% from a 3.9 to a 3.6, down 10% from year-ago. Tribune Entertainment’s “Geraldo Rivera” brought up the rear with a 1.9, off 5% from week-to-week and down 24% from the previous year.

‘Fortune’ on top

At the top of the syndie charts, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” inched up 1% from the previous week to a 9.5, while its companion “Jeopardy!” hit its lowest mark of the season, dropping 11% week-to-week from an 8.3 to a 7.4. Year-to-year comparisons for the gameshows, magazines and other access fare are thrown off by preemptions caused last year in many West Coast markets by network coverage of the Republican National Convention.

Among the magazine shows, Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” was far ahead of the pack despite a 2% week-to-week dip from a 5.3 to a 5.2.

King World’s “Inside Edition” was down 7% from a 4.4 to a 4.1. Par’s “Hard Copy” inched up from a 3.6 to a 3.7, with Warner Bros.’ “Extra” following closely with a gain from a 3.5 to a 3.6. King World’s “American Journal” lost 4% from a 2.8 to a 2.7. NBC/Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” climbed 5% to a 2.3.

Sitcoms dip

Off-network sitcoms were mostly down, although Col TriStar’s “Seinfeld” eked out a 2% gain to a 6.7. Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” fell 5% to a 7.3. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” dipped 3% to a 5.7. “Real TV,” “Judge Judy,” “Cops” and the rest of the reality pack were basically flat week-to-week.

Among the weekly dramas, All American TV’s “Baywatch” KO’d Universal’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” for the first time this season. With a 13% spike to a 4.3, “Baywatch” was the only weekly to grow during the week, although all shows were in reruns. U’s “Xena” held on to the No. 1 spot, in spite of a 10% decline, with a 4.9.

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