On Sunday, Tony Soprano didn’t just whack Tony Blundetto – he whacked the Tony Awards as well. Despite infusions of A-list movie stars (Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger) and hip-hoppers (P. Diddy, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige), the 58th annual Tonys drew Broadway awards gala’s smallest audience ever, with just 6.6 million watching the CBS telecast, according to Nielsen. Nearly twice as many, 11 million, watched the ”Sopranos” finale on HBO. That’s 1.5 million fewer than watched the Season 4 finale in 2002, but it would have been enough to land the show in the top 10 this week if cable programs were ranked with broadcast shows. Still, not even ”The Sopranos” could whack Shaq. He and his Los Angeles Lakers, competing in Game 1 of the NBA finals against the Detroit Pistons, scored the biggest win of the night, and of the whole week. Some 15.4 million basketball fans tuned in to the game, giving ABC rare bragging rights for having the week’s most-watched show.
Still, the NBA assist was enough only to elevate ABC from its customary fourth-place finish to third, averaging 5.8 million viewers for the week. (With the start of the summer rerun season, viewership for all networks dropped sharply this week.) The Tonys massacre aside, CBS still won the week, as usual, averaging 8.2 million. NBC, boosted by a non-rerun episode of ”Crossing Jordan” (No. 8, with 11.6 million viewers) and the Miss Universe Pageant (No. 9, 10.5 million), finished second for the week, with an average of 8 million. Fox was fourth with 4.8 million. The WB, boosted by a strong debut for drama ”Summerland” (4.6 million), averaged 2.7 million for the week, edging out UPN with 2.6 million.