Since the Sept. 11 tragedies, viewers are less interested in new shows
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Credit: Friends: Danny Feld

This fall season, everything old is new again: Established series like ”Friends” and ”Law & Order” are upstaging newcomers by posting impressive gains of 46 percent and 26 percent, respectively — leaving many industry wags to believe that today’s viewers are seeking out the familiar rather than the unknown in light of the events of Sept. 11. (CBS’ six-year-old military drama ”JAG” is also enjoying a ratings boost this season.)

Meanwhile, viewership for the season’s top new shows like ”Crossing Jordan” (13.9 million) and ”The Guardian” (14.9 million) is actually down from what last year’s freshman champs were averaging at this time (”CSI”: 15.8 million, ”Dark Angel”: 15.4 million). Says CBS Entertainment president Nancy Tellem, who was already forced to yank the low-rated new sitcom ”Danny,” ”It is kind of troubling. The launch of the season is obviously stalled by all that has taken place.” Still, CBS says it will be more patient before issuing another pink slip to a rookie show (that should be good news to Ellen DeGeneres, who’s ranking No. 3 in her Friday time slot). ”I just feel people are gravitating toward dramas and family comedies,” adds Tellem. ”A lot of this is comfort food.”

Crossing Jordan
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