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‘Idol’ elevates Fox

'House,' 'Simple' help net score on Wed.

With “American Idol” giving it the anchor it sorely lacked the first half of the season, Fox surged to the top of the primetime demo rankings last week.

The dominant “Idol” made up half of the net’s sked Tuesday and Wednesday, with Fox also receiving strong lead-out perfs on these nights from new drama “House” and the debut of “Simple Life 3,” respectively.

Overall, Fox — whose “24” is also looking good Monday — led its rivals in adults 18-49 with a 4.5 rating/12 share, well ahead of NBC (3.9/10), CBS (3.7/9) and ABC (3.5/9), according to Nielsen. Alphabet fell to fourth for a second straight week but remains a strong second for the season and is up across the board.

It was a tight three-way race in adults 25-54, with CBS and NBC tied for first (4.7/11) and Fox right behind (4.6/11). Fox cruised among the 12-34 crowd (4.4/13), while CBS ruled for the 17th time in 19 weeks this season in total viewers (12.7 million).

Muted laughter

Also of note during the week was a dearth of hit comedies, with the top 20 programs in adults 18-49 comprising 13 dramas and seven unscripted skeins. Fox’s “The Simpsons,” at No. 21, ranked highest among laffers.

For Fox, its big week was powered by “American Idol,” as its hours on Tuesday (12.1/31 in adults 18-49, 28.06 million viewers overall) and Wednesday (11.2/29 in 18-49, 26.57m) were the top two programs of the week in key demos and total viewers.

Music talent show was slightly off its torrid pace of the same week a year ago, but continues to give the shows airing behind it some serious coattails to ride.

Tuesday, medical drama “House” (5.0/12 in 18-49, 12.37m) led its hour with series highs, and one night later Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie kicked off the third edition of “The Simple Life” with the skein’s second-best 18-49 result (6.2/14) and its largest overall aud (13.32m) to date.

Also clicking for Fox were Monday’s “24” (slot-leading 5.1/12 in 18-49, 12.20m) and its winning combo of “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” on Saturday (3.0/9 in 18-49).

On the other hand, net isn’t doing much with “Jonny Zero” on Friday (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.34m), and “Point Pleasant” on Thursday (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.54m) looked shaky in its second week.

Eye on the prize

CBS had a solid week even with its top three dramas and top two comedies airing in repeat, and reality skein “Survivor” remains on the sidelines.

Net’s timeslot preem of “Numbers” on Friday (5.0/14 in 18-49, 15.46m) delivered the Eye’s best demos for a regular 10 o’clock program on the night since 2000 (“Nash Bridges”) and its largest overall aud there since 1994 (“Picket Fences”).

Two nights later, the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation “The Magic of Ordinary Days” (4.2/10 in 18-49, 18.67m) became the season’s most watched movie — and the most popular CBS single-part pic since “Beyond the Prairie” five years ago.

Over at NBC, another winning Thursday led the way as “ER” (9.1/23 in 18-49, 19.75m) sewed up its best scores since Nov. 11 and “The Apprentice 3” remained solid (7.1/18 in 18-49, 15.41m for a 90-minute seg).

Also leading their timeslots in adults 18-49 were Monday’s “Fear Factor” (4.8/12) and “Medium” (6.2/15) and Tuesday’s “Law & Order: SVU” (5.4/14). “Medium” remained steady Jan. 31, kicking off the current week with another winning perf (6.1/15 in 18-49, 15.85m).

NBC continues to struggle, though, with limited-run Wednesday skein “Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Model Search” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.21m). In fact, more males 12-34 were watching Charlie Rose and Mike Wallace on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in the hour than the scantily clad lasses on NBC.

An important chunk of ABC’s sked was in repeats but the net scored big Sunday with back-to-back rebroadcasts of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (6.9/16 and 7.0/15 in 18-49) — the highest-rated repeats for any unscripted series on any net in at least 5½ years.

Also for the Alphabet, Sunday’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” hit a season high (3.5/10 in 18-49, 10.66m) and Friday’s “20/20” earned its second-best ratings of the season with the John Stossel report “Lies, Myths and Nasty Behavior” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 9.53m).

The return of original programming enabled the WB to move well ahead of UPN in adults 18-34 (1.6/5 vs. 1.1/3).

Frog’s “7th Heaven” drew 8 million viewers overall and some of its best demos in two years Monday for the birth of Lucy Camden’s baby. Tuesday’s “Gilmore Girls” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 5.05m) and “One Tree Hill” (1.7/4, 4.07m) were both up nicely vs. the same week a year ago.

Dramatic shortcoming

Both netlets continue to see not-so-great results for first-year Wednesday dramas: “Kevin Hill” on UPN (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.46m) and “Jack & Bobby” on the WB (0.8/2, 1.83m).

TNT, led by Jennifer Lopez theatrical “Enough,” paced the basic cablers for the week in adults 18-49 (1.0 rating), while Discovery spec “Pompeii: The Last Day” was a standout Sunday (1.9/4 in 18-49, 4.62m).

Friday was a good night for Sci Fi, which ranked No. 1 among cablers in adults 25-54 and 18-49, paced by “Battlestar Galactica” at 10 (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.02m).

Showtime’s season finale of “Huff” averaged a mere 462,000 viewers on Sunday, but the pay cabler noted this is an increase from the 456,000 who tuned in on premiere night.

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