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Syndication Ratings: TMZ on the Ascent

Warner Bros.' rookie magazine, TMZ, had its best week ever for the week ending Jan. 20, shooting up 26% for the week to a season-high 2.4 live-plus-same-day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That performance makes TMZ the clear rookie leader. Those ratings also translated to key demos, with ratings up 50% to a 1.8 among women 18-34, up 31% to a 1.7 among women 18-49 and up 38% to a 1.8 among women 25-54.

TMZ wasn't the only entertainment magazine to see gains for the week. CBS' Entertainment Tonight jumped 8% for the week and 49% over the past three weeks to a 5.2, largely due to constant coverage of pop star Britney Spears. A Jan. 17 report about four paparazzi chasing the singer drove the show's ratings up 15% higher, hitting a 5.5 for the day.

CBS' Inside Edition inched up 3% to a 3.6, a six-week high for the show. NBC Universal's Access Hollywood hiked up 8% to a 2.6. CBS' The Insider improved 4% to a 2.5. Warner Bros.' Extra, in last place, was flat at a 2.0.

Talk shows also had a strong week. CBS' talk leaders, Oprah and Dr. Phil, each grew 9% to a 5.9 and a 5.0, respectively. That's the highest rating for Oprah -- driven by a show on "Oprah and Bob Greene's Best Life Challenge" -- in nine weeks. It also was the best show for Dr. Phil in eight weeks, even though the talk-show host is still apologizing for his poorly received visit to a distressed Spears' hospital room a few weeks ago.

Disney-ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly climbed 7% to a 3.1. CBS' Rachael Ray jumped 10% to a new season-high 2.3, helped by a 14% increase Jan. 14 for an episode featuring Travis Stork, who will be featured next fall on CBS' upcoming The Doctors. Warner Bros.' Ellen DeGeneres was up 5% to keep pace with Rachael.

NBCU's Maury took sixth place at a 2.0, up 5%. CBS' Montel Williams, which is going out of original production after this season and instead will be sold as a "best-of" package, climbed 7% to a 1.6. NBCU's Jerry Springer sprung 8% to a 1.3.

Warner Bros.' Tyra Banks built 9% to match her season-high 1.2, helped by a full-hour interview with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) Jan. 18 that sent ratings up 18% to 1.3.

In last place, NBCU's Martha Stewart held steady at a 1.1.

Among the rookie talkers, Twentieth Television's The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet gained 10% to a 1.1 to lead all six newcomers in daytime. A Jan. 16 performance by singer K.T. Tunstall sent ratings up 20% to a 1.2. NBCU's The Steve Wilkos Show, renewed for season two in more than 85% of the country, held steady at a 0.9.

Warner Bros.' newcomer Two and a Half Men dominated the off-network sitcoms with a season-high 5.6, up 6%. Fellow rookie, Twentieth's Family Guy, remained in second place at an unchanged 4.6.

Sony's Seinfeld, now in its 13th season, upset CBS' seventh-season vet Everybody Loves Raymond, rising 13% to a 4.4 to beat Raymond's 4.2, a 2% bump. That marks the first time Seinfeld has beat Raymond since 2005.

In fifth place, Sony's King of Queens climbed 3% to a season-high 3.4, followed by Warner Bros.' freshman, George Lopez, which lost 3% to a 3.1. Warner Bros.' vet, Friends, remained flat at a 3.0.

Among the court shows, CBS' Judge Judy continued to lead the courts at a 5.2, a 2% drop from the prior week. Judy, in process of being renewed through 2012, remains the only strip in first-run syndication to be up over last year, improving 4% on the week compared to the same week last year.

CBS' Judge Joe Brown remained in second place, unchanged at a 2.9. Warner Bros.' People's Court fell 4% to a 2.5. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis gained 10% to a 2.3, while Twentieth's Divorce Court and Judge Alex each grew 6% to a 1.9.

Sony's Judge Hatchett -- which, like Montel, is going out of original production after this season -- remained flat at a 1.3, tying Twentieth's Cristina's Court, which climbed 8%. Bringing up the rear, Sony's Judge Maria Lopez gained 25% to a 1.0.

Among the rookie gavelers, Sony's Judge David Young fell 10% to a 0.9, while Radar Entertainment's Jury Duty, also renewed for a second season, jumped 50% to a 0.3 from a 0.2.

Game shows were flat to slightly up, although CBS' Wheel of Fortune dipped 1% to an 8.2. CBS' Jeopardy! was flat at a 6.7. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire grew 3% to a 3.2, tying its season high. And Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud jumped 11% to a new season-high 2.0.

Among the new games, Program Partners' Merv Griffin’s Crosswords, renewed this week for season two, was flat at a 0.8, while Twentieth's Temptation gained 20% to a 0.6 from a 0.5.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.