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Booming Start For American Idol

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The franchise is back with a bang, with season 4 debuting last night to 33.5 million viewers, the largest audience of the season thus far, larger than the viewership of the other five networks COMBINED, and the third-highest ratings night of entertainment programming in the Fox network’s history:

    I’m as awe-struck as anybody,” Fox entertainment President Gail Berman said. “We thought we would do well, but nothing like this.”

    Berman and the show’s producers were busy earlier this week trying to dampen expectations, saying they anticipated the talent contest to lose some of its popularity in its fourth season.

    Last year’s season debut was seen by 29 million people, Nielsen said. The season opener even eclipsed last May’s finale: 31.4 million people saw Fantasia Barrino crowned the third champion.

    The two-hour debut Tuesday night featured auditions in Washington, D.C., with the heart-warming story of Regina, who sold her wedding ring for a chance to get on the show and was rewarded with a trip to Hollywood.

    “In the end, this may sound a little corny, it’s the people’s program,” Berman said. “People just love this show. They feel a part of it, because they’re the folks who make the choice who wins.”

    ….”It was pretty impressive,” said CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves. “I think Gail undersold it very well. Very smart. I’m sure there’s happiness over on Pico Boulevard (Fox headquarters) today.” [AP]

We had it on the TV last night but I didn’t catch much of it running around doing other things. I’m not a big fan of the audition round where the emphasis is on freakshow oddities, mental illness, and delusions of grandeur, with the emphasis on “delusion.”

The audition round continues tonight from St. Louis at 8pm on Fox.

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