‘Swan’ on the nose

Fox surgery marks a successful operation

Fox may have added a key sked piece for the season’s homestretch after makeover reality series “The Swan” opened gracefully Wednesday following “American Idol.”

Meanwhile, ABC’s latest edition of “The Bachelor,” this one centering on a professional quarterback, also looked good despite getting jilted by “The Swan” in its first of two hours Wednesday. NBC’s “The Apprentice” again impressed one week from its finale.

According to Nielsen, “The Swan” (6.8 rating/18 share in adults 18-49, 14.97 million viewers overall) retained an impressive 76% of its 18-49 lead-in from “American Idol” (8.9/28, 20.59m). Other than “Idol,” it’s the net’s best entertainment result in Wednesday’s 9 o’clock hour since “Celebrity Boxing” in March 2002.

And while other Fox shows have put up good numbers behind “Idol,” it’s worth noting that “The Swan” did not see any ratings falloff in its second half-hour — in fact, it built slightly in most categories.

The surgery skein will air regularly Mondays at 9, beginning tonight.

From 9 to 11 Wednesday, the premiere of “The Bachelor” with New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer averaged a 5.2/14 in adults 18-49 and 11.08 million viewers overall — up from the skein’s one-hour premiere at the same time a year ago.

“Bachelor” built with each half-hour, opening with a modest second-place 4.0 rating/11 share in 18-49 at 9 opposite “The Swan” but concluding with a dominant 6.4/17 at 10:30. Show resumes in its regular 9 o’clock slot next week.

Also Wednesday, Comedy Central’s hot “Chapelle’s Show” drew its largest aud yet (4.43 million), becoming the most-watched program on the cabler since a seg of “South Park” in October 1998. In its target demo of men 18-34, “Chapelle” was the No. 1 show on television in the 10:30 half-hour (5.6/18).

And on Thursday, the penultimate seg of the first edition of NBC’s “The Apprentice” put up what’s likely to rank as the week’s No. 1 rating in adults 18-49 (prelim 10.6/27, 21.8 million viewers overall), easily defeating a repeat of CBS drama “CSI” (prelim 6.2/16, 19.4m).

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