Chatshows wither in August heat

A number of syndicated series showed signs of life during the final week of August, but just as many wilted in the heat.

Among the biggest sunstroke victims were the talkshows, most of which drooped during the week ended Aug. 29, according to the Nielsen national barter rankings.

Warner Bros.’ “Jane Whitney” took the biggest tumble, with a 14% fall to 1.8, while Paramount’s “Maury Povich” fell 10% to 3.6, and WB’s “Jenny Jones” sank 8% to 2.2. The remainder were weak, including King World’s “Oprah Winfrey.”

There were a few exceptions, however. Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” (sans Lee) rebounded 16% from the previous week to a below-normal 3.7.

Other chat shows moving up were Tribune’s “Geraldo,” Multimedia’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” and “Donahue.”

Latenight syndie shows headed south in the week prior to the arrival of CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman.” Both Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” (2.7) and Par’s “Arsenio Hall” (2.6) lost 4% each.

In the nightly newsmag race, all shows forged ahead as they put their spin on the latest Hollywood scandal with new segments.

The usual leader, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight,” moon-walked ahead 4% to 7.3, while King World’s “Inside Edition” was still dangerously close with a 3% gain to 7.0.

Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” was taken off the critical list, putting some light between itself and Par’s “Hard Copy.” The granddaddy of the tabloids jumped 7% to 6.2 while “Copy” inched up 2% to 5.8.

Other big winners during the week were Par’s “The Untouchables,” gaining 16% to 4.9; Turner’s off-net sitcom “The Wonder Years,” rising 10% to 3.2; and WB’s “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” up 9% to 5.0.

Swimming against the tide were All American TV’s “Baywatch,” down 12% to 5.2, and Rysher TPE’s “The Highlander,” decreasing 11% to 3.3.

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