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NBC's 'Revelations' Undaunted by Fox's 'Idol' Worshipers

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, April 15, 2005; Page C07

The end of the world enabled NBC to compete effectively against Fox's supersized "American Idol" results show Wednesday night, while Fox's Pamela Anderson sitcom, "Stacked," opened respectably but did not bust out in the ratings as the network no doubt hoped.

(Don't tell me you didn't see that one coming.)

"Revelations," with Bill Pullman and Natascha McElhone, held its own against an expanded "American Idol." (Larry Horricks -- Nbc Universal)

NBC's six-episode "Revelations," starring Bill Pullman as a brainiac investigating signs of the apocalypse, clocked an average of 15.6 million viewers in its first telecast at 9 p.m. Among the 18-to-49-year-olds that NBC targets, "Revelations" bagged the highest ratings in the hour since September and NBC's best result in that demographic opposite a regular "American Idol" broadcast in nearly three years.

Meanwhile, Anderson, an actress in her late thirties clinging desperately to her twenties by starring in a sitcom about a rocker groupie who goes to work in a bookstore because a job at Hooters hasn't occurred to her yet, attracted only 8.3 million viewers.

We know this says something deeply depressing about the state of the country, and we'll report back when we've figured out what.

The "Revelations" audience was bigger than that scored by any original episode of "The West Wing" in the same time period this season. In fact it did better than every original episode of "The West Wing" in the time slot since the second episode of the 2003-04 television season (that was the one in which bombs were dropped on Qumar and Zoey was rescued).

The opening of NBC's so-called limited-run series drew a larger audience than the premieres of any other NBC freshman drama this season except "Medium," which is about a woman who sees dead people. Smell a trend here?

The "Revelations" opener outdrew the starts of NBC's "LAX," "Hawaii" and "Medical Investigation" this season.

(A special preview of "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" did average 17.3 million viewers in the "ER" time slot, but the official premiere in its regular Friday time slot averaged 14.5 million).

The "Revelations" showing was all the more impressive given that it faced Fox's "American Idol" results show, which that network had expanded to a full hour. Fox insisted the expansion had nothing to do with trying to stop the end of the world on NBC and everything to do with commemorating the debut of "Stacked" while giving loyal "Idol" viewers something special.

(You knew the "Idol" broadcast was special because Ryan Seacrest wore a snappy pinstripe suit and a silver tie, though he kind of ruined the whole "special" thing when he kicked off the broadcast by announcing, "I'm definitely going to earn my money tonight as I host a results show stretched out further than Kirstie Alley's cycling shorts.")

"Idol" wound up with about 25 million viewers Wednesday night.

"Stacked" settled for the aforementioned 8.3 million viewers, though Fox noted it did attract 30 percent more viewers than its 8 p.m. Paris Hilton show lead-in, which is setting the bar pretty low.

On a brighter note, "Stacked" won the 8:30-9 time slot among all key male demographic groups. Duh.

And though Fox modestly declined to say so, we will reveal that "Stacked" won its time slot among kids between the ages of 2 and 11, who no doubt had tuned in ahead of time to get ready for "American Idol" -- a pretty crafty scheduling ploy if you're looking to grow that important next generation of Pamela Anderson viewers.

Still, "Stacked" is one of Fox's best recent comedy premieres.

Yes,"Life on a Stick" opened with 9.2 million viewers, but that was out of an "American Idol" lead-in. Before that, "Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show" attracted only 5.4 million in its first broadcast in mid-March.

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