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Syndicated Weekly Hours On Up and Up

Weekly hours, led by Paramount's Entertainment Tonight Weekend, were sharply higher for the week ending May 2, the first weekend of the May sweeps. Most strips were little-changed, however, as average viewing, which also included the sweeps' first two weekdays, was down by approximately 314,000 viewers.

Four of the top five weekly hours were up by double-digits. ET Weekend kicked off the sweep, up 16% from the prior week to a 3.6, it's highest rating in nine weeks.

In second place, NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood Weekend jumped 38% to a 2.2, while Warner Bros.' Extra! Weekend climbed 17% to a new season high of 2.1. It was the first time that the top-three weekly hours have been entertainment news magazines.

At number four on your weekly hour hit parade was Tribune's Andromeda, up 12% to a 1.9, tying Warner Bros.' rookie, The West Wing, which was down 5% to a 1.9. Tribune's Mutant X was up 13% to a 1.8, tying NBC/MGM's Stargate SG-1, which fell 5%. And in an eighth-place, three-way tie at 1.7 were NBC/MGM's She Spies, up 6%; Paramount's Unexplained Mysteries, flat; and Twentieth's The Practice, down 6%.

On the downside, Warner Bros.' ER was the only major weekly to hit a new season low, down 24% to a 1.6.

In other weekly action, Paramount's Hot Ticket surged 46% to a 1.9, matching its highest ratings of the season. That gave Hot Ticket the win in the movie-review race over Buena Vista's Ebert & Roeper, down 24% to a 1.6.

Among strips, King World's Dr. Phil and Warner Bros.' Ellen DeGeneres were the only two talk shows to improve as the sweep began.

Four talkers were down and nine were unchanged. Dr. Phil grew 6% to a 5.4, the show's highest ratings in eight weeks, and was up 15% over last year. That was the biggest year-to-year increase of any talk show. Meanwhile, Ellen, the rookie champ, was up 6% to a 1.9. Oprah, the top talker, was down 2% to a 6.5, but that was still up 8% from last year at this time.

Elsewhere in daytime, court shows were evenly split, with three up, three down and one flat. Leading the winners was Paramount's Judge Judy, up 4% to a 5.0, its highest ratings in eight weeks. Also higher were Warner Bros.' People's Court, up 4% to a 2.4, and Sony's Judge Hatchett, up 5% to a 2.1.

In access, most shows were steady.

Paramount's ET was the top magazine, unchanged at a 5.2, followed by King World's Inside Edition, unchanged at a 3.4. Sony's Seinfeld led the sitcoms, but slipped 2% to a 5.8, with Warner Bros.' Friends unchanged at a 5.5. King World's Wheel of Fortune headed the game list, inching up 2% to a 8.4, with King World's Jeopardy unchanged at a 7.0.