CBS rode the reality wave (Survivor: Paulau) and drama craze (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) to a prime-time Nielsen Media Research ratings win in the key 18-49 demo Thursday with an 8.2 rating/20 share of audience.
Paulau averaged an 8/21 at 8-9, then CSI cleaned up with a 9.7/23 at 9-10.
NBC took second on the night with a 6.1/15 thanks to a first-place finish from ER at 10 p.m. (7.6/19) and a strong second by Apprentice at 9 (7.1/17).
Fox took third on the strength of younger-skewing drama, The O.C., and a sweeps special stemming from Fox chief Rupert Murdoch's tabloid roots: Stars Without Makeup, a sort of "Oh, look what we uncovered," paparazzi cornucopia of wrinkled superstars in jogging suits captured coif-less and sans makeup on some errand or another.
In the grand "elucidating the obvious" tradition of Fox specials explaining breathlessly that magic tricks are really tricks and illustrating that things embedded in the human body are gross, the special served to prove that stars without their makeup look like everybody else without their makeup.
Topping the indignant meter on the special was Cher, who let loose with a string of bleeped and obscured epithets (sorry all you lip readers) at the video stalker. Be that as it may, combined, O.C. and "Oh, See?" were good enough for a 3.1/8.
ABC was fourth with a 2.9/7 for a two-hour Peter Jennings-hosted look at UFO's, which essentially married new graphics with old sightings and stories, and Prime Time.
UPN (2.0/5) wrestled fifth place into submission with wrestling, while the frog netlet was after everybody with a .9/2 for movie, Ever After.
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