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Xena's swansong hits high ratings note

Going out with a bang, Xena's series finale was the number one weekly hour, for the week ending July 1.

This is the first time this season Xena, scoring a 3.9 Nielsen household score, topped all of its weekly competition. Leaping 22% from the previous ratings period, the warrior princess died during the course of the episode, she skewered usual leader Entertainment Tonight Weekend (3.4, down 6%) and others, including ER (2.9, down 6%) and X-Files (2.8, down 7%).

Her performance is more impressive, considering the show ran the weekend before July 4th, when a lot of people were racing out of town for the holiday. Some series likely hurt by this factor include three veterans that dropped to their lowest marks ever - Friends (4.8, down 6%), The Rosie O'Donnell Show (2.2, down 12%) and People's Court (1.6, down 16%).

Besides Friends, other top sitcoms Frasier (4.4, down 2%) and Seinfeld (3.8, down 5%) were also down. In fact, Seinfeld (down 24% versus this time last year) equaled its series low. Friends (down 9%) and Frasier (down 12%) are also lower year-to-year.

Rosie (down 21% from last year) wasn't the only off-track talk strip. Others that have slipped from last year include Sally (2.0, down 39% from last year) and Queen Latifah (1.0, down 29%).

Only two court shows showed growth from last week - Judge Judy (5.9, up 2%) and Divorce Court (2.5, up 4%). People's Court (down 38% from last year) showed the year-to-year biggest decline of any court strip.

In rookie action, Power of Attorney (1.8, flat) came out on top. Followers included To Tell the Truth (1.7, down 6%), Judge Hatchett (1.7, flat) and Street Smarts (1.6, down 11%). Dating strip Change of Heart (1.9, up 6%) closed some of the gap on its rival Blind Date (2.4, flat).
- Susanne Ault