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Reality skeins break records

'Black,' 'Runway' rule Wednesday

Unscripted skeins were all the rage Wednesday night — and leading the pack were a couple of cable perfs for the record books.

FX’s “Black.White.” opened with a bang, and Bravo’s “Project Runway” closed with one. They were joined on the night by UPN’s own record-setting bow for “America’s Next Top Model,” and, of course, more mammoth numbers from Fox’s “American Idol.”

According to Nielsen, the preem of controversial documentary series “Black.White.” (2.1 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, 3.98 million viewers overall) matched the basic cable record in 18-49 for a reality skein by MTV’s “The Osbournes.” Ratings for the social experiment were also on par with the premieres of FX dramas “Rescue Me” and “Over There.”

Show did especially well among young men, with its 2.2/8 in men 18-34, putting it ahead of ABC’s “Invasion” and behind only dramas “CSI: NY” on CBS and “Law & Order” on NBC.

Right behind “Black.White.” was the second-season finale of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” which ranks as the most-watched original in that network’s history. More than 3.4 million viewers tuned in, easily eclipsing last year’s finale aud of 2 million.

For the previous seven weeks, “Runway” has been cable’s No. 1 show in 18-49 during its Wednesday timeslot.

Skein took in an impressive 2.4 million in 18-49 (equating to a 1.9 rating/5 share in the demo), a Bravo feat edged only by an episode of “Queer Eye,” which took in 2.8 million. It also finished just a tick behind second-place “Law & Order” for the hour among women 18-34 (3.3/9).

Strong “Runway” perf helped out 11 p.m. frosh skein “Top Chef,” which hung on to 1.3 million viewers from its lead-in (913,000 in 18-49). Skein notched highs in all demos for an 11 p.m. show on Bravo.

“Top Chef” moves up into “Runway’s” 10 p.m. slot Wednesday.

On the broadcast side, the sixth-cycle premiere of UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.26m) grew with each half-hour and exploded at 9 when Fox’s “Idol” went off the air.

It set premiere records for the franchise in virtually all key categories, ranking second only to Fox in adults 18-34 from 8 to 10 (3.2/9).

And, of course, “American Idol” (12.4/32 in 18-49, 30.38m) was easily Wednesday’s top show, besting the other broadcast nets combined from 8 to 9 and up 10% vs. the same night a year ago.

Beginning next week, “Idol” returns to its twice-a-week format, with a half-hour results show Wednesday at 9.

On a night when ABC’s “Lost” was in repeat, a standout on the scripted front was CBS rookie drama “Criminal Minds” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 15.27m), which was a tick out of the 18-49 lead at 9 and led in both 25-54 and total viewers opposite Fox’s “Bones” (4.7/11, 11.82m); latter surrendered about 60% of its lead-in from “Idol” and moves to 8 o’clock next week.