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Hope springs eternal for fans of the “Jerry Springer Show.” The latest national Nielsen syndie ratings report indicates that “Springer” loyalists were unfazed by recent allegations that their beloved freak show and brawl-fest is more scripted than spontaneous.

Studios USA’s “Springer” made it six weeks in a row at the top of the yak pack for the week ended April 26, which overlapped the start of the May sweep (April 23-May 20). It was also “Springer’s” week in the hot seat, when newsmags “Extra” and “20/20” ran exposes featuring former “Springer” guests saying they told tall tales on the show.

Amid all the hoopla, “Springer” scored a 7.8 household rating, down 4% from the previous week. However, overnight metered market ratings for that week found “Springer” climbing from a 20 share on Monday, April 20, to a 23 share on Friday, April 24, the day after the “Extra” piece aired.

Real test to come

The real test of “Springer” fans’ mettle will come early next month, when Studios USA brass have vowed that all physical violence will be excised from the show — over the protests of Springer himself.

Coming in second among talkshows for the week was King World Prods.’ “Oprah Winfrey,” which jumped 10% from the previous week to a 6.7. Para-mount’s “Montel Williams” took third place with a 2% week-to-week increase to a 4.3. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” dropped 11% to a season-low 3.9, tying with WB stablemate “Jenny Jones,” which inched up 3% from the previous week.

USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” upticked 3% to a 3.8, while Buena Vista TV’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” followed close behind with a 3.7. Columbia TriStar TV’s “Ricki Lake” dipped 6% to a 3.4. Par’s “Maury Povich” rose 4% to a 2.9.

In latenight, Col TriStar’s “Vibe” was unchanged from the previous week at a 1.4.

Court stays flat

Among the season’s freshman daytime strips, Warner Bros.’ “The People’s Court” was flat at a 2.7. Eyemark Entertainment’s “Martha Stewart Living” was off 4% to a 2.2. Worldvision’s “Pictionary” was down 8% to a 1.1.

Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the magazine field for the 92nd straight week, rising 4% from the previous week to a 5.4. King World’s “Inside Edition” inched up 2% to a 4.2. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was unchanged at a 4.1, in spite of its much-publicized “Springer” exclusive, which garnered big numbers for the newsmag in key markets like New York, L.A. and Chicago.

Par’s “Hard Copy” was down 6% from week-to-week to a 3.1. NBC/Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” dipped 4% to a 2.3.

At the very top of the syndie charts, as usual, were King World’s gameshows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” “Wheel” slipped 4% to a 10.7, while “Jeopardy!” was off 2% to a 9.2. Reality strips “Judge Judy” and “Real TV” were off 6% and 9%, respectively, for the week.

Off-network sitcom strips were mostly lower. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” bucked the downtrend, inching up 2% to a 5.3. Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” and “Seinfeld” were tied at a 6.8. Par’s “Frasier” was off by 4% to a 4.8.