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Yakkers bubble for May sweeps

'Oprah' leads with 5.9, 'Regis' in 2nd

HOLLYWOOD — After a weeks-long slump, ratings for syndication’s talk category perked up during the second full week of the May ratings sweep.

The top eight yakkers all posted week-to-week improvement for the week ending May 13.

Weekly hours and gamers also posted some positive perfs.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” led the yakkers, moving up 2% week-to-week to a 5.9 household rating, according to Nielsen. Perf, however, is down 8% compared with last year.

“Live! With Regis & Kelly” was next, up 6% to 3.8. Skein was one of two vet yakkers to move up year-to-year, doing so by 3%. “Montel Williams,” which is fifth in the category, was the other to improve over 2000.

“Jerry Springer” was the third-highest rated talker, moving up 6% week-to-week to 3.6, which is even with last year.

‘Maury’ up and down

“Maury” was up 6% to 3.4, but down 8% year-to-year.

“Montel'” gained 3% over both the previous week and previous year to 3.0.

“Rosie O’Donnell” improved 7% for the week to 3.0, down 21% for the year.

“Ricki Lake” was up 5% to 2.3, but down 4% from last year.

“Sally” recovered some from a multi-year low the week before, improving 21% over the previous week to 2.3, which is down 23% for the year.

“Jenny Jones” (2.0), “Martha Stewart Living” (1.4) and “Queen Latifah” (1.2) were all flat week-to-week.

Year-to-year, “Jenny” was down 13%, “Martha” was down 7% and “Latifah” was flat.

Meanwhile, the top four weekly hours all posted week-to-week gains for the week that included the third weekend of the sweep. (Most weeklies air on the weekend.)

‘ET’ and ‘X’ up

“Entertainment Tonight Weekend” and repeats of “The X-Files” were both up 9% for the week to 3.6 to lead the category.

Perf reps a 16% improvement year-to-year for “ET Weekend,” while “X-Files” is flat vs. last year.

Frosh action entry “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” followed and was up 11% to 3.1.

“Xena: Warrior Princess,” which is ending its run, was up 17% for the week to 2.8, but down 13% from last year.

Among the gamers, genre leaders “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” both edged up 1% for the week, to 9.1 and 7.8 respectively. “Wheel” is down 8% for the year, and “Jeopardy” is down 5%.

“Hollywood Squares” was up 6% for the week to 3.3, but down 23% year-to-year.

Sophomore “Family Feud” dipped 4% for the week to 2.4, but perf did rep a 9% increase over the same week during the show’s frosh season.

Relationships to heat up

The relationship skein battle will get a little more crowded this fall, with such skeins as “Elimidate,” “Fifth Wheel” and “Rendez-View” poised to enter the fray. But for now, the category’s two main suitors are at relative peace.

Soph “Blind Date” dipped 5% for the week to a 2.0, which is up 5% over its rookie season.

Third-year “Change of Heart” (1.8) was even week-to-week and down 5% from last year.

Among adults 18-34, one of the demos especially pursued by relationship skeins, “Blind Date” earned a 1.4, and “Change” a 1.3. Perf is down 13% week-to-week for “Blind” and up 8% for “Change.”