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Another special Thursday edition of “American Idol” helped Fox take the night in key demo categories, while “CSI” and “Without a Trace” gave CBS the edge from 9 to 11 and a victory in total viewers.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” was the night’s top show (10.8 rating/27 share, 26.2 million viewers overall), easily winning its hour despite coming in about 10% below its Tuesday-Wednesday average this week. The finale of “Skating With Celebrities” finished out the night for Fox (5.2/12 in 18-49, 14.1 million viewers overall), placing second in most categories.

At CBS, “Survivor: Exile Island” (5.5/14 in 18-49, 16.2 million viewers overall) was again on the low side opposite “Idol” and on par with its demo result of the prior week. “CSI” ruled as usual at 9 (8.9/21 in 18-49, 27.6 million viewers overall) but was below average for an original, as was 10 o’clock drama “Without a Trace” (5.8/15 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall), which led its hour in 25-54 and tied for the 18-49 lead with NBC’s “ER” (5.8/15 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall). The medical drama had one of its weakest scores as well.

NBC gamer “Deal or No Deal” fell to its lowest ratings to date (2.9/7 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) opposite tough unscripted competish at 8, but the net picked up some at 9 with “My Name is Earl” (5.1/12 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall) and “The Office” (4.4/10 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall).

Fourth-place ABC averaged a 2.6/6 in 18-49 and 7.6 million viewers overall for a repeat of theatrical “Sweet Home Alabama,” and was a bit above average at 10 with “Primetime” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 8.0/19; CBS, 6.7/17; NBC, 4.5/11; ABC, 2.7/7; WB, 1.4/3; UPN, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: CBS, 21.1 million; Fox, 20.2 million; NBC, 10.8 million; ABC, 7.7 million; WB, 3.1 million; UPN, 2.5 million.