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Makin' 'Whoopi'

NBC's ''Whoopi'' and ''Happy Family'' are Nielsen winners. The two new Tuesday sitcoms debut at No. 4 and No. 5 for the week

For a show touted as edgy, politically incorrect, and having something to offend everybody, Whoopi Goldberg's sitcom ''Whoopi'' sure has broad, mainstream appeal. NBC's strategy of debuting two of its sitcoms two weeks early paid off, as ''Whoopi'' debuted as the fourth most-watched show of the week, drawing 15.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Its Tuesday follow-up, John Larroquette and Christine Baranski's new sitcom ''Happy Family,'' held most of Whoopi's lead, premiering at No. 5 with 14.7 million viewers.

Other new series that performed well out of the gate were UPN's sci-fi show ''Jake 2.0'' (3.7 million viewers, strong by the standards of netlets UPN and the WB), variety show ''Steve Harvey's Big Time'' on the WB (3.6 million), and UPN's comedy ''The Mullets'' (3.5 million). The WB's sitcom ''All About the Andersons.'' drew a so-so 3.2 million. Not so hot was the WB's ''Run of the House,'' the latest sitcom from the artist formerly known as Joey Lawrence, which drew a whoa-ful 2.5 million.

Despite the successes of NBC's new Tuesday sitcoms, as well as its ''For Love or Money 2'' finale (No. 7, 12.3 million) and its Friday ''Dateline'' interview with shrink-turned-diet guru Dr. Phil McGraw (No. 9, 11.7 million), the network still finished second for the week in overall viewers, averaging 8.7 million. The title went to CBS (9.3 million), armed with five hours of ''CSI'' reruns and an interview with the late Johnny Cash from deep in the vault of ''60 Minutes'' (No. 6, 13.3 million). ABC had the most-watched show of the week, the Tampa Bay-Philadelphia match on ''Monday Night Football'' (19.4 million), and the pregame show scored at No. 3 (15.3 million), but the network finished third overall, averaging 8.1 million. Fox was a distant fourth with 5.6 million, followed by UPN (3.4 million) and the WB (3.3 million).

Originally posted Sep 17, 2003
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