ABC 'Makeover' Proves Cut Above
Fri Dec 13, 5:22 AM ET
By Rick Kissell

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Don't be surprised to see more nips and tucks on ABC's schedule in the new year, as Wednesday's plastic surgery special "Extreme Makeover" unmasked more big ratings for the network in the 9 p.m. hour.

One week after a Whitney Houston interview on "Primetime" in the same hour delivered the best adults 18-49 rating for a newsmag in 3-1/2 years (9.0 rating/22 share), "Extreme Makeover" produced a slot-winning 5.7/14 in the coveted demographic and a second-place 13.19 million viewers overall (behind NBC's "The West Wing").

This time slot is where "The Bachelor" excelled this fall, so credit ABC's scheduling department for keeping the lights on between "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" with these high-profile rating grabbers.

"Makeover" followed three volunteers through the plastic surgery process, with the final half-hour including polishes like teeth-cleaning and fashion tips from experts.

Despite the strong showing at 9 and demo victories in the leadoff hour from "My Wife and Kids" (4.7/13 in adults 18-49) and "George Lopez" (4.5/12), ABC placed second on the night to NBC, as viewers again quickly fled at 10 when "MDs" hit the air. The medical drama (2.0/5 in adults 18-49) landed deep in third, retaining a mere 34% of its lead-in. (The show was canceled the next day.)

NBC (5.5/15 in adults 18-49, 15.3 million viewers overall) reclaimed its first-place Wednesday standing behind season-high numbers for "Law & Order" (7.6/20 in adults 18-49) and solid second-place showings for "Ed" (4.0/11) and "West Wing" (5.1/12).

Opposite "Makeover," CBS reality series "Amazing Race 3" (9.39 million, 4.0/10 in adults 18-49) didn't see much of a boost with its penultimate episode, ranking third. Its season wraps with a two-hour finale next Wednesday.