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Syndication Ratings: Ellen's ‘Idol' Boon

Most of syndication got a Valentine from Nielsen in the week
ending Feb. 14 and most shows met or exceeded their best rating levels
of the
season.  While winter storms in much of
the country kept many viewers indoors, ten of the top eleven veteran
talk shows
were up from the week before, with Oprah
as the only talker to decline.

Warne Bros.' Ellen
was an especially bright spot, hitting a new all-time
series high
2.9 in what was the first full week of the February sweep.  Of course,
Ellen's big number coincided with
her first week of appearances as the fourth judge on American Idol
Week-to-week Degeneres gained 12% to 2.9 and grew 26%
from last year at this time. 

Elsewhere in talk, CBS Television Distribution's (CTD) Dr. Phil
improved 3% to 3.2.  Disney/ABC's Live With Regis and Kelly
added 7% to 3.0.  NBCU's Maury
climbed 10% to 2.2.  CTD's The Doctors advanced 5% in
households to
2.0 and 17% among W18-34.  CTD's Rachael Ray jumped 11% to 2.0,
with a
show featuring Susan Lucci offering romantic advice for Valentine's Day
blooming 22% to 2.2 on Feb. 11.  NBCU's Jerry Springer spiked
8% to 1.4.  Steve
(NBCU) was up 8% to 1.3. 
Warner Bros.' Bonnie Hunt
picked up 11% to 1.0.  NBCU's Martha Stewart surged 17% to 0.7,
leader CTD's Oprah fell 4% to 5.4.

Court shows also got very favorable Nielsen verdicts.  CTD's Judge
was up 4% from the week before to 5.0. 
It ranked first among all syndicated shows with a 7.9 GAA rating.  CTD's
Joe Brown
also racked up a 4% increase, hitting a 2.4.  Warner
Bros.' People's Court was buoyed by 5% to a new season high
2.3.  Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis was up 6% to 1.8. 
Twentieth's Judge Alex and
Twentieth's Divorce Court were flat
at 1.6 and 1.5, respectively.  Warner
Bros.' Judge Jeannine Pirro scored a
new season-high 1.2, up 9%. 

Among rookies, Sony's Dr.
advanced 7% to a new season-high 3.2 in first-run.  The
highest-rated new off-net, NBCU's The Office, was also up 7% to
matching its best number yet.  Other new
sitcoms included CTD's Everybody Hates
, which was flat at 2.0, and Twentieth's My Name Is Earl,
which added 6% to 1.8.

In first-run, Twentieth's Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader
and Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams were unchanged at 1.7 and
1.2, respectively.  Litton's Street Court hopped 17% to 0.7.

Among magazines, CTD's The
scored a new season-high 2.0 with a 5% hike from the week
before.  Leader CTD's Entertainment Tonight was up 2% to 5.0. 
The show's ET Weekend saw its rating balloon 8% week-to-week
and 40%
year-to-year to 2.8.  CTD's Inside Edition raced ahead 9% to
3.6.  Warner Bros.' TMZ was up 5% to 2.3.  NBCU's
Access Hollywood lost 5% to 2.1.  Warner Bros.' Extra,
which did not air in some big markets due to storm coverage,
was up 5% to 2.0.

Game shows were mixed. 
CTD's Wheel of Fortune slid 1%
to 7.4.  Jeopardy (CTD) inched up 2% to a new season-high 6.4. 
Disney/ABC's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire got a 4% dividend
and earned a
2.7.  Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud was up 7% to 1.5.  NBCU's Deal
No Deal
dropped 8% to 1.1.

Off-net sitcoms were mostly higher.  Warner Bros.' Two and a Half
was up 4% to a new season-high 5.7.  Twentieth's Family Guy
upticked 3% to 3.6. 
Sony's Seinfeld was up 4% to
2.9, tying Warner Bros.' George Lopez,
which leaped 7%.  CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond and Twentieth's
King of the Hill were flat at 2.8 and
2.4, respectively.  Friends (Warner Bros.') fell 4% to 2.2. 
Sony's King
of Queens
was unchanged at 1.7.  House of Payne was up 7%
to 1.6.  Frasier
was flat at 1.5.