''Gotti'' enlivens TV ratings race. CBS wins the weekly Nielsen battle with reruns and ''Amazing Race,'' while ''Simple Life'' and ''Marry My Dad'' score as well

By Gary Susman
Updated August 11, 2004 at 12:00 PM EDT
Victoria Gotti, John, Frank, and Carmine Gotti Agnello: Julie Jacobson/AP

Another summer week, another rerun-driven Nielsen victory for CBS. Among first-run shows, reality fare did well this week, thanks to some noteworthy series debuts and finales. Wednesday’s ”Simple Life” swan song on Fox was the week’s No. 10 show, according to Nielsen, attracting 9.9 million viewers and scoring the highest rating for the coveted 18-to-49 age group. Some 7.8 million people watched Marty Okland pop the question to Stacy Leutner on the finale of NBC’s ”Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” (No. 22 for the week). UPN’s ”Amish in the City” saw a modest slide in its second week but is still doing well by UPN standards with 4 million viewers, though just 2.1 million caught the premiere of the channel’s new dating show, ”The Player.” Even basic cable’s A&E got into the act with ”Growing Up Gotti,” as 3.2 million viewers watched last week’s premiere of the show about ”Dapper Don” John Gotti’s daughter Victoria and her three sons with the Christopher Walken-style coifs, the so-called ”Hottie Gottis.” The show drew 3.2 million, big enough numbers for A&E to immediately order seven more episodes beyond the originally scheduled 13-episode run.

CBS, of course, has its own reality hits with ”The Amazing Race” (No. 6 this week, with 10.6 million viewers) and the three weekly episodes of ”Big Brother.” Still, the big news for the network this week was the increasing popularity in reruns of ”Two and a Half Men,” which drew 12.8 million viewers this week and finished at No. 2, its highest chart position ever. (Watch as TV pundits crank out a slew of ”See, the sitcom isn’t dead yet” articles.) CBS held the top six slots on the chart (No. 1, as usual, was ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” with 14.1 million viewers) and averaged 8.6 million viewers for the week. NBC followed with 6.5 million, then ABC (5.3 million), Fox, (5 million), UPN (2.9 million), and the WB (2.3 million).