‘Santa’ hot, syndies not amid run-up to holidays

Date-show genre avoids falling numbers

NEW YORK — The holiday run-up took a toll on syndication ratings but gave a boost to a film based on a seasonal hero.

Viewership for the week ended Dec. 21 was off by nearly 300,000 households from the previous week.

Making its syndie debut, “The Santa Clause” emerged as the top-rated movie this season. Pic is distributed by Buena Vista as part of a movie package of 72 titles. Its 7.7 rating, according to Nielsen, landed behind only top-ranked “Wheel of Fortune” (9.2) in all of syndication.

The date-show genre was the only one to avoid falling numbers.

Category leader “Blind Date” saw a 7% week-to-week bump, earning it a 1.6. “Extreme Dating” recorded an all-time high, according to Nielsen, surging 9% to a 1.2. “ElimiDate” pulled in a 1.4 (up 8%) and “The Fifth Wheel” rolled in with a 1.0 (up 11%).

On the talkshow circuit, “Oprah” stumbled 3%, hitting a season-low 6.0 but maintaining its position as top-ranked yakker. “Dr. Phil” bounced back from his own season low last week, up 4% to a 5.2.

Biggest gain of the week visited “Crossing Over With John Edwards,” which spiked 25% for a 1.0 rating.

With new pics cramming the multiplexes, critics’ review shows “Ebert & Roeper” and “Hot Ticket” unspooled hot numbers. “Ebert & Roeper” moved up 10% to a 2.3; Leonard Maltin-led “Hot Ticket” registered a 7% week-to-week increase for a 1.5.

Off-net sitcoms and newsmags all recorded flat or falling numbers, including top-rated “Seinfeld” (down 6% to a 6.1) and “Entertainment Tonight” (off 5% for a 5.6).

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