Overnight ratings for Saturday's Saturday Night Live in which the pop star vocalized without incident were on par with last year's career-threatening hoedown on the same show.
a d v e r t i s e m e n t
While total viewers numbers weren't available early Tuesday, NBC said the telecast pulled in ratings virtually identical to the October 2004 SNL in which 6.4 million witnessed Simpson pull a jig when her pre-recorded backing tracks took an unscheduled solo.
On Saturday, Simpson, 21, performed two songs in the manner befitting the "live" in the NBC comedy show's title: "Catch Me When I Fall" and "Boyfriend."
Simpson, for one, was pleased with her return to the SNL studio. "I feel good about facing one of [my] biggest fears, and feel even better knowing you were all there right behind me," she wrote on her Website.
If audiences have been loath to forget Simpson's tape machine ways--they booed her at the Orange Bowl--then the entertainer hasn't been able to shake the experience, either. On Saturday's show, Simpson said she wrote "Catch Me When I Fall" after last year's SNL snafu. And according to the Los Angeles Times, at least one other track off the singer's I Am Me album (due out Oct. 18), "Beautifully Broken," is also about the screw-up.
As an aside, "Boyfriend" supposedly is about the young love triangle of Simpson, Wilmer Valderrama and Lindsay Lohan--a trio that likely would score big ratings, live or on tape.
Elsewhere in the TV week ended Sunday, per Nielsen Media Research:
ABC's Commander in Chief (eighth place, 16.9 million) is pulling rank on Tuesday nights, as evidenced by CBS' lagging Amazing Race: Family Edition (31st place, 11.2 million). But Commander creator Rod Lurie won't be around to celebrate--he's been replaced as day-to-day executive producer by Hill Street Blues vet Steven Bochco.
The summer was no fluke: CBS' non-sexy NCIS (ninth place, 16.9 million) is hot, now up more than 15 percent from last season.
ABC's Invasion (29th place, 11.4 million) has slowed, now down about 30 percent from its premiere.
Oh, for the good old days of last season when getting killed on Wednesday nights meant 11.1 million watched NBC's The West Wing (56th place, 8 million), now getting killed on Sunday nights.
So, much for one serial killer's delusions of grandeur. The CBS docudrama The Hunt for the BTK Killer (50th place, 8 million) ran a distant fourth Sunday night.
Here's a scary story: ABC's Night Stalker (73rd place, 5.9 million) down 17 percent from its pretty dead premiere.
The ABC Tuesday comedies According to Jim (50th place 8 million) and Rodney (58th place, 7.5 million) delivered "strong audience retentions," which aren't really like laughs, but apparently important nonetheless.
What does Jennie Garth know--and does she have pictures? The WB canceled Don Johnson's would-be comeback, Just Legal, after a 105th place finish (2.9 million) and three airdates. Garth's What I Like About You, meanwhile, motors on for the netlet after a 115th place finish (2.1 million) and 71 other episodes that were just as little-watched.
In other WB news, Related (105th place, 2.8 million) is no Gilmore Girls (73rd place, 6 million).
The just-concluded So You Think You Can Dance (50th place, 8.2 million) was no Dancing with the Stars.
Inconceivable was un-ratable last week. NBC canned the fertility drama before it even turned three episodes old. In its absence, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (69th place, 6.3 million) became the network's least watched original series.
Overall, CBS and ABC split honors--the former was the most watched network among total viewers (averaging 12.8 million); the latter was the most watched network among viewers aged 18 to 39.
NBC (9.7 million) ran third in both races, with fourth falling to Fox (8.4 million), despite strong ratings for the first round of the baseball playoffs.
The WB (3.8 million) topped UPN (3.3 million).
Here's a look of the 10 most watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. CSI, CBS, 28.8 million viewers
2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 26.1 million viewers
3. Lost, ABC, 22.4 million viewers
4. Without a Trace, CBS, 21.2 million viewers
5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 18.7 million viewers
6. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 18.1 million viewers
7. Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 17.9 million viewers
8. Commander in Chief, ABC, 16.9 million viewers
9. NCIS, CBS, 16.9 million viewers
10. Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 16.2 million viewers