Only eight prime-time programs cracked 10 million viewers last week as the broadcast networks crawled to the end of the summer slump.
Here's a look at the week's winners and losers:
Peter Jennings. The night after Jennings died at age 67 of lung cancer, "World News Tonight," the show he anchored for more than two decades, clocked 10.5 million viewers -- its biggest audience since 1998. Had that Monday newscast aired in prime time, it would have ranked No. 6 in the Prime Time Top 10. As it was, the public's spontaneous viewing tribute to the longtime ABC anchor meant the show was of more interest to people than 110 other programs that the six broadcast networks aired in prime time last week. It was watched by more viewers than anything offered on any of the nearly 400 cable networks now available. Two nights later, ABC's two-hour prime-time salute to Jennings logged 9.4 million viewers, which also would have put it in the official top 10 list had not ABC decided to run the special "sustaining," which means without advertising. Nielsen Media Research doesn't rank such programming.
Pamela Anderson. An average of 4.3 million people caught Comedy Central's telecast of Courtney Love's Truly Spectacular Meltdown, which masqueraded as a roast of ABC sitcom star/ Playboy pinup/ animal rights activist Anderson. Though it was jammed with jokes about Anderson's store-bought breasts (uninspired, yes, but a sure-fire magnet for the network's core young male audience) and though Love's Lost Weekend interpretation was Oscar-worthy, this roast was no match for Jeff Foxworthy's back in March, which had bagged more than 6 million fans. Still, the Love/Anderson comedy team copped cable's largest haul of the week among 25-to-54-year-olds -- ironically, that's the news demographic. Grievously, only 77,000 children between the ages of 2 and 11 were on hand to see Love's this-is-your-brain-on-drugs performance.
Miss Teen USA. Up from last year's smallest audience on record -- not so hard a feat, given that the show moved from Friday to Monday night -- the young-chick pageant instead nabbed its second smallest audience ever: 5.7 million viewers.
"Hooking Up." ABC News's documentary series sounded great on paper, since online dating services are reportedly used by 40 million Americans. All but about 4 million of them, it turns out, really do not wish to watch a show about it in their spare time. That's the number of people who suffered through the final episode of this series following 12 women as they online-dated.
"I Want to Be a Hilton." "On second thought, no I don't," said almost all Americans, except the paltry 3.7 million who watched the final episode of Paris's mom's sad stab at celebrity.
"Weeds." It may be "the most talked-about comedy in ages," as Showtime keeps telling us, citing Newsweek.com as its source, but only 488,000 watched the Monday premiere of the new comedy about a pot-selling suburban mom. In its "sneak peek" the night before, it had done better than that, luring 540,000 viewers.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," CBS's "Without a Trace," "CSI: Miami," and "60 Minutes," back-to-back broadcasts of CBS's "Two and a Half Men," CBS's "NCIS," ABC's "Peter Jennings: Reporter," ABC's coverage of the NFL Hall of Fame game.