New 'American Juniors' a Ratings Hit

06/05/2003 at 11:09 AM EDT

Ryan Seacrest apparently doesn't need Simon Cowell.

FOX's Tuesday night "American Idol" spin-off "American Juniors," emceed by Seacrest and minus the scowling Cowell, got off to a strong start in its 8 p.m. debut this week, helping its network tie with rival NBC in the key ratings race among viewers aged 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.

NBC pulled in 10.9 million viewers with its 9-11 p.m. broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant, which matched its highest rating in 10 years among the 18- to 49-year-olds, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"Juniors" started the night for FOX with an average of 11.7 million viewers, the best marks for a series premiere this summer and an easy victor in its time slot.

But at 9 p.m., it was slower going for FOX's new cop show "Keen Eddie," which only attracted 7.6 million viewers, despite the "Juniors" lead-in help.

In other TV news, USA Today reports that recently retired NBC newswoman Jane Pauley, 52, may resurface as a talk-show host on the very same network she worked for for 27 years.

The paper says Pauley has been talking to NBC Enterprises about hosting a daily syndicated daytime talk show that would air on NBC-owned stations starting in 2004. As yet, no deal has been struck, the paper reports.

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