Surprise ratings winner helps Eye own Thursdays

CBS is keeping its “Star Search” alive a bit longer than expected.

While the Eye hasn’t given an official production order for more episodes of the newly reincarnated variety skein, the network has told producers to keep casting new talent for the show. What’s more, CBS insiders said it’s all but a given that the show will be extended beyond its planned one-month run, with original episodes likely to air throughout February.

“Star Search,” which airs Wednesday and Thursday nights, has been a surprise ratings winner since bowing Jan. 8. The Thursday edition has proven particularly potent, serving as a solid timeslot holder for “Survivor,” which reclaims the 8 p.m. slot Feb. 13. Indeed, the combo of “Star Search,” “CSI” and “Without a Trace” helped the Eye win Thursday night in viewers last week — the first time that’s happened (sans “Survivor”) since 1985.

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