January 21, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Randy Jackson’s waistline is apparently the only thing about ”American Idol” that has shrunk since last year’s edition. According to early Nielsen estimates, Monday’s season premiere drew about 29 million viewers — more than the 26.5 million who watched last January’s second-season premiere, more than any other premiere in the current TV season, and in fact, more than all but three entertainment programs (all episodes of ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) have scored all season.

Still, ”Idol” viewers must not have gotten their fill of obnoxiousness from Simon Cowell. After the show, two-thirds of them stuck around for the premiere of Fox’s ”My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé.” The reality show’s estimated 19.6 million made it the season’s most popular launch of a new series. Now, if that show’s ”Steve” would get himself engaged to Paula Abdul, the resulting series would be unbeatable.

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