Mags Make Hay Out of Brinkley Story

When life hands stars a few lemons, syndicated entertainment magazines get out the buckets and start collecting the lemonade. Weekend magazine shows went five for five in ratings increases for the week ending July 23, according to the Nielsen ratings, rising on the falling fortunes of the marriage of former model Christie Brinkley and the revelations of her husband Peter Cook's affair with a 19-year-old employee.

Insider Weekend had the biggest week-to-week jump, up 25% to a 2.0, its best ratings in nine weeks and up 25% over last year at this time. Inside Edition Weekend, a half-hour weekly like Insider Weekend, was up 13% to a 1.7, though still down 11% from last year.

Among the weekly hours, Entertainment Tonight Weekend led the way with a 2.8, up 8% for the week and up 12% from last year. Access Hollywood Weekend recorded a 2.0, up 18% on the week and up 33% from last year. Extra Weekend was up 7% to a 1.5, but down 17% from last year.

Most syndicated strips were flat or down thanks to severe storms and excessive heat, which may have driven people indoors but also caused power outages affecting viewership in markets including number one New York, Philadelphia and Nashville. Some also took a hit from preemptions July 17 for the return of the Space Shuttle.

Three of the top five talk shows lost ground. Oprah, the leader, was unchanged at a 5.3, but down 4% from last year. Conversely, Dr. Phil was down 6% to a 4.4, but unchanged from last year. Live With Regis & Kelly was down 3% to a 3.1 and down 14% from last year. Maury fell 4% to a 2.7 and was down 16% from the same week last year, while Jerry Springer was up 5% to a 2.0, but still down 13% from last year.

Among rookie talkers, Tyra Banks made it seven weeks in a row on top, scoring a 1.5, unchanged from the week before, while Martha cooked up a 1.3, up 8%.

Judge Judy led the order in the court shows, but was down 2% to a 4.5 and down 4% from last year. Judge Joe Brown was unchanged at a 2.9, but was down 9% from last year. People's Court was next with a 2.7, unchanged for the week but down 4% from last year, followed by Divorce Court at a 2.5, which was down 7% both week-to-week and year-to-year.

Entertainment Tonight, the top mag, was flat at a 4.4, but was the only magazine strip to improve over last year, up 2%.

Wheel of Fortune topped the game shows with a 7.0, unchanged for the week, but down 8% from last year. Everybody Loves Raymond held on to the off-net lead with a 5.0, but was down 2% for the week and down 15% from last year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.