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"What About Joan?" debuts big
    ABC may not have gotten it's mid-season surprize in the much hyped "The Job," but it sure did take the cake 13 days later with Joan Cusack's new sitcom "What About Joan?" The show accomplished a few feats for the network. Drawing a 15.3/28 at 9:30, it became the first ABC series in two seasons to build on its "Dharma & Greg" (13.4/24) lead-in, it became the highest rated alphabet show in the Tuesday at 9:30 slot in 3 seasons, it led the net to beat NBC on the half hour
for the first time since December and it finally provided a decent lead-in for "NYPD Blue" (15.0/28), which drew it best numbers since its third outing in January. That drove the network to an average of
15.9 million viewers on the night, its best peformance since season premiere week back in October.
    The only show that managed to get a foothold on ABC during the enitre night was NBC's sparkling "Frasier" (15.5/28), which drew some low numbers, but still beat ABC's struggling "Dharma & Greg" by over 2 million viewers. It couldn't hold that lead at 9:30, however, where "Three Sisters" (10.4/19) fell to its worst retention rate yet- just 67%. It fared even worse in adults 18-49. But there were other good performances on the night. "That 70s Show" (11.3/20) drew its highest ratings in weeks, while time-slot competitor "The Fighting Fitzgeralds" (9.2/16) did come in 4th in its slot, but still manage to become the nets 3rd highest rated original broadcast in the slot this season.
    But, one again, the real winner on the night was ABC. If "Joan" holds up, it'll be a shoe-in for fall renewal considering ABC is desperate for scripted hit comedies. As for "The Geena Davis Show?"
Thank you, Joan Cusack, for driving the nail in that coffin. (March 28, JustTV)

"Joan" woos viewers

By Rick Kissell March 29, 2001

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Viewers were curious enough about Joan Cusack to make her new ABC comedy a big winner in its Tuesday debut as "What About Joan" drew some of the network's best midseason ratings in several years.

According to Nielsen, "Joan" won its 9:30 half-hour by most key measures, including decisive victories in total viewers (14.92 million) and

the coveted adults 18-49 demographic (6.8 rating, 16 share). "Joan" built on lead-in sitcom "Dharma & Greg" by an impressive 17% in the demo (6.8 vs. 5.8) and by 8% in viewers overall. (Each adults 18-49 rating point represents 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total.)

It's a very encouraging start for the comedy, whose premiere was timed to take advantage of the network's huge audience for the Academy Awards two days earlier. ABC has underperformed in the post-"Dharma" slot the last three seasons with "Sports Night" and "The Geena Davis Show," and "Joan" becomes the first ABC comedy to attract more viewers than the original "Dharma" preceding it.

The romantic comedy, which also stars Kyle Chandler ("Early Edition"), delivered the best ratings for an ABC sitcom in the Tuesday 9:30 slot since the premiere of "Geena Davis" in October. But on that night, "Geena" merely matched the demo score of "Dharma" (7.7/19) -- and had the advantage of facing low-rated baseball action on NBC rather than that network's comedies.

It's the best showing for an ABC midseason series -- comedy or drama -- since March 1998 in total viewers ("Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place") and since March 1999 in adults 18-49 ("Norm").

"Joan," which received mixed reviews, also seemed to energize ABC's entire night, as lead-in "Dharma" (5.8/14) and lead-out "NYPD Blue" (6.1/17) delivered their best demo scores in six weeks. "Blue," airing opposite a repeat of CBS' "Judging Amy," also drew its largest overall audience in nine weeks (14.84 million).

ABC won the night in adults 18-49 (5.8/15) with its best average on a Tuesday since Jan. 9 ("The Mole" premiere) and in total viewers (16 million) with the biggest Tuesday gathering for its regular sked since Oct. 10 ("Geena Davis" bow).

"Joan" sent NBC's midseason laffer "Three Sisters" to its lowest marks for an episode after an original "Frasier" (10.77 million, 5.1/12 in adults 18-49). "Sisters," which bowed to big numbers in January and has performed well in a cushy time slot, retained a sub-par 75% of its "Frasier" 18-49 lead-in (5.1 vs. 6.8).

A stronger ABC also affected the other networks in the 9 p.m. hour as Fox's "Dark Angel" fell to firstrun lows (9.51 million, 4.2/10 in adults 18-49) and CBS' "60 Minutes" was a lackluster third in total viewers (10.40 million) and a distant fourth in all demos.

"Dark Angel" has faded to solid but unspectacular numbers, winning its hour Tuesday in men 18-34 and teens but no longer the broad hit it first appeared. Teamed with winning comedies "That '70s Show" and "Titus," "Dark Angel" still makes for a solid lineup for Fox, which again easily won Tuesday in adults 18-34 and teens.

Another comedy enjoying a strong outing on Tuesday was NBC's midseason entry "The Fighting Fitzgeralds" (9.82 million, 4.0/11 in adults 18-49). The comedy, which had performed well sandwiched between episodes of "Frasier" the last three weeks, looked surprisingly strong in its first try in the leadoff half-hour.

Compared with the previous six episodes of NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun" to air in the 8 p.m. slot, "Fitzgeralds" was up by 24% in total viewers (9.82 million vs. 7.90 million) and by 29% in 18-49 (4.0 vs. 3.1). It was still well behind comedy foe "That '70s Show" on Fox (11.21 million, 6.1/17 in adults 18-49), but it finished just behind second-place ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" in the demo (4.2/12).

Things went sour for NBC at 8:30, though, as many viewers bailed from "DAG" (7.90 million, 3.4/9 in adults 18-49) before coming back at 9 for "Frasier" -- the night's No. 1 comedy in total viewers (15.67 million) and adults 18-49 (6.8/17, tied with "Joan").


ABC's ``What About Joan'' arcs upward

By Rick Kissell, Reuters, Thursday April 5

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - ABC's new comedy series ``What About Joan'' turned in a less dominant ratings performance in its second outing Tuesday than its premiere last week but continues to show promise, again winning its half-hour by most measures.

According to Nielsen, the mid-season sitcom topped its 9:30 p.m. competition in total viewers (13.06 million) and in the key demographic of adults 18-49 (5.8/15). But those numbers were off 12 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from the show's debut.

Still, these are fairly modest dropoffs, especially since overall primetime television usage fell by about 7 percent from week-to-week because of daylight-savings time.

ABC was probably most pleased with ``Joan's'' 7 percent build on ``Dharma & Greg'' in adults 18-49 (5.8 vs. 5.4), even though this is down from its 17 percent gain a week earlier. Former timeslot occupant ``The Geena Davis Show'' had improved upon its ``Dharma'' lead-in only once in its last 10 tries.

``Joan,'' which won its half-hour by 4 shares among 18-49 viewers for the second straight week, faced easier competition in week two: NBC's 9 p.m. comedy ``Frasier'' aired in repeat, reducing the numbers for the firstrun comedyr that followed it, ``Three Sisters'' (9.54 million viewers, 4.4/11 rating/share in adults 18-49); Fox drama ``Dark Angel (news - Y! TV)'' was also a repeat.

Elsewhere on the night, NBC's midseason comedy ''The Fighting Fitzgeralds'' (8.56 million viewers, 3.2/10 in adults 18-49) was down by 20 percent in 18-49 from its surprisingly strong premiere in the 8 o'clock slot last week -- pushing the Peacock back into fourth place.

David Copperfield's 8 p.m. CBS special ``Tornado of Fire'' (12. 56 million, 4.2/12 in adults 18-49) may have had something to do with the ``Fitzgeralds'' fade. His first original CBS special in six years finished just a tick behind ABC's first-place ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (news - web sites)'' in the key demographic.

ABC's ``NYPD Blue (news - Y! TV)'' also did well Tuesday, as the farewell episode for original cast member James McDaniel delivered the show's largest audience of the season (16.63 million) and third best 18-49 rating (6.4/18).

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