Tiger bite trumps bipolar.
NBC's not-a-news-interview with Roy Horn, his first since a bite on the neck by one of his white tigers one year ago that ended the long run of the Siegfried & Roy Vegas act and nearly did Horn in, copped 14.5 million viewers Wednesday night.
It was the most watched show of the night, beating the much ballyhooed "60 Minutes" interview with Marian Carr Knox, former secretary of Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, the alleged author of those alleged memos that CBS had included in its recent controversial coverage of George W. Bush's alleged service at the alleged Texas Air National Guard, among other programs.
Horn's chat with the first lady of California also trampled NBC's own super-hyped "Dateline" interview two weeks ago in the same time slot with Jane Pauley -- the one in which Pauley added her name to the growing list of celebrities announcing they're bipolar.
That interview nabbed 9.5 million viewers which, at the time, seemed really good. The chat with Pauley, a former "Dateline" personality who was launching her NBC syndicated show that week, was a "news" interview, as opposed to the Horn interview, which was not because it was conducted by Maria Shriver, who is the wife of someone holding a major political office these days.
The special on Horn drew, in fact, NBC's biggest number in the Wednesday 9 p.m. hour (excluding Olympics, of course) since the daughter of the faux president of the United States was rescued in the second episode of a two-episode "West Wing" season debut, which seems like a lifetime ago but was only in October.
Among 18-to-49-year-olds, the age group NBC targets, "Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle" gave NBC its best performance in the time slot since May, when America's Sweetheart, Katie Couric, interviewed the cast of "Friends." That one was a "news" interview, as opposed to a two-hour plug for the series finale of NBC's sitcom the next night. I know, it's terribly confusing.
Getting back to the special on Horn, tracking what happened that night at the Mirage when he was dragged offstage by one of his act's white tigers:
It scored more viewers than has any premiere of any NBC series this season to date, except the unveiling of "Friends" spinoff "Joey." It was bigger than "Hawaii" (10.9 million), "Medical Investigation" (11.2 million), "LAX" (13 million) and even "Father of the Pride" (12.4 million), the animated sitcom about a family of white lions that performs in the Siegfried & Roy act.
In fact, the Horn interview drew a bigger crowd than the premiere of any new series on the fall lineup on any other network. That includes ABC's reality series "The Benefactor" (5.5 million), Fox's reality series "The Next Great Champ" (5.0 million) and "Trading Spouses" (7.5 million), Fox's prime-time soap "North Shore" (5.9 million) and WB's drama "Jack & Bobby" (4.7 million).
So happy is NBC with the performance of "Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle" that the network has decided to rerun it at a time yet to be determined.