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Mixed syndie bag

'Oprah' tops sweeps talkers; 'Leeza' best rookie

The second week of sweeps saw a rollercoaster ride in the ratings for a number of talkers as producers went all out trying to grab that extra set of eyeballs with a plethora of bull and bare. The result was a mixed bag, according to the latest Nielsen numbers.

The tried-and-true talker genre saw a nearly perfect split between gainers, losers and smooth sailors. Newcomers continued their struggle to stay alive for next season with only Paramount’s “Leeza” showing a spike. The yakker improved 5% for the week, reaching a 1.5 — which marked the widest margin of victory for the show over fellow freshmen since October.

‘Latifah’ reign flat

Rookie “Queen Latifah” from Telepictures, already assured a place in the lineup next year, was flat at a 1.2. The other three newcomers all landed a 1.0 rating or below. King World’s “Dr. Joy Browne” was off 9% to a 1.0. Buena Vista’s January entry “Ainsley Harriott” remained at a 0.9; King World’s “Martin Short” stayed at a 0.8.

Among the vets, King World’s “Oprah” remained queen of gab despite a 1% dip to a 6.9 rating. Runner-up “Jerry Springer” jumped 2% to a 4.5. Fellow Studios USA show “Maury” continued to do well this season with a 6% jump to a 3.8, tying for third with Paramount’s “Montel.”

Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell,” Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” and USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” were all down for the week with ratings of 3.7, 3.5 and 3.2, respectively. All other talkers were flat for the week.

‘Relic’ breathes new life

Weeklies also some action, particularly among freshman fighting for life come fall, as Paramount’s “Relic Hunter” hit an all-time high with a 33% jolt to a 2.8. New Line’s “The Lost World” also saw a rise with a 14% jump to a 2.5.

Dipping this week were the January-launched rookies “Back2Back Action” from USA and “Total Recall” from Tribune/Universal, off 3% and 5% to a 2.9 and 2.0. Tribune’s “Beastmaster,” which has ruled the freshman crop nearly every week since its debut, hit a pothole, toppling 27% to a 2.2.

Overall, the top weekly hour came from the off-net world as Twentieth’s “The X-Files” rose 11% to a 4.9, equaling its season high.

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