‘Saving Grace’ a heavenly hit

TNT's new show brings in 6.5 million viewers

TNT’s spiritually minded procedural “Saving Grace” delivered heavenly numbers in its debut Wednesday.

Holly Hunter skein nabbed 6.5 million total viewers in its initial run Monday following “The Closer.” Show retained much of the audience for “Closer,” which drew 7.3 million total viewers.

Another big cable summer premiere, “Mad Men,” turned in a smaller number for AMC.

Period drama about the ad biz drew 1.65 million total viewers in its well-reviewed bow last Thursday. Net debuted the series following an airing of Martin Scorsese mob pic “Goodfellas.”

TNT’s “Grace” yielded a 4.9 household rating, handily beating the 3.0 debut for the net’s other summer opener, “Heartland.” That struggling Treat Williams medical drama premiered June 18 but has been shifted to an 8 p.m. Monday slot to make room for “Grace.”

Show, in which Hunter plays a hard-living cop who may or may not have been visited by an angel, is a big bet for TNT. Net would like to have a second show to package as a block with Closer,” and it hopes to skew a little younger than it does with the Kyra Sedgwick starrer.

“Closer,” with an average of about 7 million viewers, draws about two-thirds of its audience from the over-50 crowd.

“Grace” had mixed results among young viewers: It did land nearly

2 million adults 18-49, though that number comprised just 30% of its aud.

Net touted the premiere as the third-most successful in the history of basic cable.

Second week will prove a critical test for the show; a number of original series on basic cable have debuted to big numbers only to see a steep falloff in the sec-ond week.

AMC’s “Mad Men,” from “Sopranos” vet Matthew Weiner, also leaned old, with 65% of its audience coming from the 50-plus set and just 10% of its aud from the 18-34 demo.

But AMC, which is hoping the pricey original sets the table for an upcoming slate of scripted series, touted several desirable factors, including the fact that the 1.4 rating/1.6 million total viewers was 75% higher than net’s usual movie runs on Thursday night.

Net said the movie and series played to an upscale audience, combining for the best rating on cable that night among households earning in the six figures.

And AMC noted a halo effect. “The viewing environment created last week brought unprecedented daily success with five movie titles performing over a 1.1 (household) rating in primetime,” it noted in a statement.

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