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'Reality summer' continues on U.S. networks as several shows draw high ratings

By Wade Paulsen, 08/12/2003 

Back in the spring, the U.S. networks talked about dumping reality shows; only six shows were scheduled on the four main networks and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel referred to them as "shit". How quickly things change.

E! Online reports that several reality shows continue to perform well in the ratings for the week ended August 10. In fact, six reality shows were in the top 20 for the second straight week. However, the successful reality shows belong to just two networks: NBC and CBS.

NBC, which had failed in reality TV until recently, has produced several hot new shows. Leading the pack is Who Wants To Marry My Dad?, which ranked 12th as it narrowed the potential brides to two -- a slight drop from its Top-10 finish the week before. For the second straight week, For Love Or Money 2 ranked 16th. Although the two-hour finale of Last Comic Standing didn't live up to the prior week's performance, it still ranked 20th. And even Mark Burnett's reality-documentary The Restaurant managed a 26th-place finish. However, not everything from NBC worked: Race for the Altar lost audience after its disappointing debut, finishing 69th. (Perhaps viewers thought it was another show about the on-again, off-again engaged Hollywood couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, also flopping in Gigli.)

At CBS, meanwhile, the old mainstays Big Brother 4 and the Emmy-nominated The Amazing Race 4 have kept its ratings afloat. BB4 managed to finish 10th with its Wednesday edition, 14th with its Tuesday edition, and 31st with its Friday edition, despite the fact that Friday is a 'dead night' for reality TV. TAR4, meanwhile, continued its improvement from disappointing early ratings, coming in 19th. Like NBC, though, CBS has a flop: Simon Cowell's Cupid, which plummeted to 57th place after it was moved from Wednesday to Tuesday night.

Fox, which has gained a reputation for successful reality shows, has American Juniors improving from its dismal start -- but only to 36th place. Paradise Hotel remains stuck in the 40s. However, Fox may get a boost when its Temptation Island 3 premieres on August 28th.

And then comes ABC. Its The Real Roseanne Show, depicting the temperamental comedienne trying to revive her career with a cooking show, only reached 59th in its debut, despite heavy promotion. And The Family, which was pulled off the air during the regular season, may be the most unsuccessful network reality show since NBC's Chains of Love, flatlining in 73rd place -- which is almost identical to its performance the week before. Frankly, we're amazed that Jimmy Kimmel was allowed to describe his network's reality TV offerings so accurately. We're also amazed that ABC doesn't make a Mole 3 with non-celebrities. Perhaps Disney executives enjoy life in the cellar.


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