The top new series of the summer? It’s ”American Juniors,” the pint-size ”American Idol” spinoff featuring talented kids and their obsessive stage parents. In a week otherwise dominated by reruns (the top three shows for the week ending Sunday, according to Nielsen, were CBS’ rebroadcasts of ”Everybody Loves Raymond,” ”CSI,” and ”CSI: Miami”), ”Juniors” and other reality fare stood out. Some 11.9 million people watched ”Juniors”’ debut on Fox last Tuesday, making it the No. 10 show of the week; early estimates for this week say that 8.7 million returned for the June 10 installment. NBC tied CBS as the most-watched network of the week (averaging 9.1 million viewers) by offering a reality-heavy slate that included the debuting ”For Love or Money” (10.2 million viewers) week 2 of ”Fame” (9.9 million) and ”Dog Eat Dog.”
Reality was also sweet for UPN, whose ”America’s Top Model” drew 4.1 million viewers and helped lead the netlet to a rare weekly victory over rival the WB. UPN averaged 3 million viewers to WB’s 2.7 million.
In more traditional unscripted competition, the Miss Universe Pageant (moving over to NBC this year from CBS) drew 12.1 million gawkers and finished ninth for the week. ABC was hurt by weak showings for the NBA and NHL finals (the network tied for third place with Fox for the week, averaging 6.8 million viewers each), but Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s mano-a-mano with Barbara Walters on Sunday was the week’s most popular new program, finishing at No. 4 with 13.5 million viewers. CBS’ old-fashioned reality competition, the 57th annual Tony Awards, drew its lowest audience ever (7.8 million), though the presence of host Hugh Jackman and other big names helped boost the percentage of young (18-49) viewers by 25 percent over last year. Gee, you’d think a show featuring a mutant superhero, a drag queen (”Hairspray”’s Harvey Fierstein), a gay kiss (between ”Hairspray” composers and offstage partners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), and an ”American Junior”-style stage mother (”Gypsy”’s Bernadette Peters) would be a huge ratings draw.