Reality show delivers best ratings in years

It took a catfight to give MTV a runaway hit.

The zitgeist net has been drawing some of its best ratings in years with the new season of “The Hills,” the SoCal-set soap of post-adolescent angst and innuendo.

An average of 3.9 million viewers have tuned in to the first month of the new season, 2.9 million of them in the 18-49 demo.

The reason: a spat between protags Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag involving –what else — a sex tape. Apparently Heidi blames Lauren for blaming Heidi for spreading word about a racy video Lauren may or may have not have made with her ex. (At least we think that’s what it’s about.)

Coverage has exploded in the celeb press over who did what to whom, with leaked stories in US Weekly and PerezHilton becoming part of the fight.

After a double-episode preem Aug. 13 garnered an average of 3.7 million viewers, the figure actually rose in the last two weeks, topping out at 4.4 million on Sept. 3. That’s more than double the average of the first two seasons.

With those kind of numbers, MTV execs must be smiling. Now they just hope one thing doesn’t happen: a reconciliation.

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