'Friends' Survives CBS Competition
In the competition over who owns the remote control, "Friends" topped "Survivor: Africa" in the hotly contested battle for Thursday night. The latest edition of the CBS reality series, in which 16 (now 15) contestants duke it out for $1 million, did kick off last week with impressive numbers, averaging 23.8 million viewers, and that will make it the second most-watched series of the week. No. 1, however, was the NBC sitcom, which attracted 29.2 million viewers. "Friends" also eclipsed "Survivor" among the key demographic of viewers aged 18-49, the group most sought after by advertisers. Thursday's edition of "Friends" concluded a much-publicized three-part story with Ross (David Schwimmer) learning that he was the father of Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) baby. Combined, this season's first three episodes of the sitcom's eighth season have averaged 30.3 million viewers, the series' brightest beginning since the opening of its second season in 1995, NBC said. (Last year, "Survivor: The Australian Outback," which also went head-to-head with "Friends," earned higher ratings than the sitcom.) In other TV news, The New York Times notes that the medium has once again proved difficult for stars, with Jason Alexander, Ellen DeGeneres and Emeril Lagasse facing frustrating ratings. Last season this was also the situation for Bette Midler and Geena Davis and, historically, says the paper, this was similarly the case for Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra and Henry Fonda. On a positive note, the new Richard Dreyfuss CBS series, "The Education of Max Bickford," is making a strong showing, as is Scott Bakula in the syndicated "Star Trek" spin-off, "Enterprise."
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