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CBS slaps a new coat on an old genre with ‘House’

The moribund made-for-TV movie exhibited signs of life Sunday with the Hallmark Hall of Fame production “A Painted House,” which delivered the biggest movie audience this season and CBS’ highest movie rating in more than three years, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

That boost came near the outset of the current rating sweeps, which began Thursday and continue through May 21. As networks load up on what viewers like and many marginal shows end their seasons, look for more of popular programs -- underscored by NBC’s six hours of “Law & Order” last week, almost 30% of its lineup.

Beyond CBS, which also featured the finale of “Touched by an Angel,” ratings were generally poor Sunday, with subpar numbers for NBC’s “America’s Most Talented Kid” and “American Dreams” as well as ABC’s “Alias” and “Dragnet.”

Fox, meanwhile, may have gone back to the Michael Jackson well once too often, garnering mediocre ratings with a Jackson “Home Movies” special Thursday. NBC’s “Will & Grace” posted its highest rating since February with Madonna’s guest appearance and ABC’s “Primetime” drew its biggest audience in a year (excluding its “Living With Michael Jackson” special) with a Dixie Chicks interview.

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ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” also performed well in its return, retaining most of its audience from “The Bachelor.” Perhaps predictably, the plastic-surgery program looked especially good in the Los Angeles area, where its rating was almost 30% higher than the national average.

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Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (April 21-27) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates there are 272.04 million potential viewers in the U.S. age 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

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*--* 1 CSI CBS 25.22 2 ER NBC 20.88 3 Friends NBC 20.71 4 American Idol (Tue.) FOX 20.56 5 Friends (8:30 p.m.) NBC 20.25

6 American Idol (Wed.) FOX 19.46 7 “A Painted House” CBS 18.27 8 Survivor: Amazon CBS 18.09 9 Law and Order NBC 18.08 10 Will & Grace NBC 17.71

11 Will & Grace (9:40 p.m.) NBC 16.92 12 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 14.14 13 “American Idol Special” (Mon.) FOX 14.11 14 Without a Trace CBS 14.02 15 Judging Amy CBS 13.97

16 JAG CBS 13.84 17 The West Wing NBC 13.65 18 Law and Order: SVU NBC 13.49 19 Everybody Loves Raymond (9:30 p.m.) CBS 13.44 20 Law and Order: Criminal Intent NBC 13.41

21 Primetime Thursday ABC 13.29 22 The Bachelor ABC 12.93 23 Touched by an Angel (Sun.) CBS 12.90 24 Law and Order: Criminal Intent (10 p.m.) NBC 12.88 25 CSI: Miami CBS 12.77

26 Bernie Mac FOX 12.70 27 The Simpsons (8:30 p.m.) FOX 12.40 28 60 Minutes CBS 12.25 29 Mr. Personality FOX 12.18 30 King of Queens CBS 12.12

31 Extreme Makeover (Wed.) ABC 12.02 32 24 FOX 11.94 33 The Guardian CBS 11.88 34 The Simpsons FOX 11.71 35 Yes, Dear CBS 11.27

36 That ‘70s Show FOX 11.20 37 Malcolm in the Middle FOX 11.07 38 Star Search (Wed.) CBS 10.71 Third Watch NBC 10.71 40 Crossing Jordan NBC 10.39

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41 Wanda at Large FOX 10.28 42 The District CBS 10.19 43 Wonderful World of Disney ABC 9.84 44 60 Minutes II CBS 9.80 45 America’s Funniest Home Videos (9 p.m.) ABC 9.76

46 Dateline: NBC (Tue.) NBC 9.70 47 Law and Order: SVU (Sat.) NBC 9.63 48 CSI (Fri.) CBS 9.48 49 Frasier NBC 9.30 50 America’s Funniest Home Videos (8 p.m.) ABC 9.09

51 Dateline: NBC (Fri.) NBC 8.80 52 Star Search (Fri.) CBS 8.78 53 “Psychic Secrets Revealed” NBC 8.76 54 Touched by an Angel CBS 8.60 55 Hack CBS 8.52

56 20/20 (Fri.) ABC 8.41 57 The Agency CBS 8.39 58 7th Heaven WB 8.28 59 George Lopez ABC 8.04 60 Alias ABC 8.03

61 Oliver Beene FOX 7.87 62 “Primetime Special Edition” (9 p.m.) ABC 7.85 63 My Wife and Kids ABC 7.83 64 “Michael Jackson Home Videos” FOX 7.82 65 “Forrest Gump” ABC 7.81

Fear Factor NBC 7.81 67 According to Jim ABC 7.73 68 America’s Most Wanted FOX 7.62 69 The Practice ABC 7.59 70 NYPD Blue ABC 7.57

71 Dragnet ABC 7.50 72 “John Stossel Special” ABC 7.45 73 American Dreams NBC 7.42 74 King of the Hill FOX 7.39 75 Watching Ellie NBC 7.35

76 48 Hours Investigates CBS 7.33 77 America’s Most Talented Kid NBC 7.32 78 8 Simple Rules ABC 7.01 79 Lost at Home ABC 6.79 80 Smallville WB 6.70

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81 Law and Order (Sat.) NBC 6.66 82 King of the Hill (7 p.m.) FOX 6.65 83 Cops (8:30 p.m.) FOX 6.45 84 The Practice (10 p.m.) ABC 6.18 85 America’s Most Talented Kid (Sun.) NBC 6.15

86 John Doe FOX 5.80 87 Cops FOX 5.46 88 Hunter NBC 5.38 89 Gilmore Girls WB 5.10 90 Fastlane FOX 4.87

Just Shoot Me (8:30 p.m.) NBC 4.87 92 Just Shoot Me NBC 4.68 93 WWE Smackdown! UPN 4.64 94 Everwood WB 4.62 95 Girlfriends UPN 4.11

96 Reba WB 4.09 97 Charmed WB 4.08 98 All American Girl ABC 3.84 99 Angel WB 3.71 100 Grounded for Life WB 3.70

101 Half and Half UPN 3.69 102 Dawson’s Creek WB 3.47 103 Half and Half (8:30 p.m.) UPN 3.21 104 Enterprise UPN 3.19 105 Charmed (9 p.m.) WB 3.03

106 The Twilight Zone UPN 2.86 107 Jamie Kennedy WB 2.81 108 Buffy the Vampire Slayer UPN 2.74 109 The Parkers UPN 2.73 110 What I Like About You WB 2.70

111 Jamie Kennedy (9:30 p.m.) WB 2.65 112 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch WB 2.57 113 Greetings From Tucson WB 2.40 114 “The 6th Man” WB 2.14 115 Gilmore Girls: Beginnings WB 2.11

116 Platinum UPN 1.76

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Network averages

Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.

*--* Network Last week Season to date CBS 12.67 12.52

NBC 11.02 11.66

FOX 10.29 9.83

ABC 8.52 10.08

WB 4.06 4.07

UPN 3.10 3.54

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