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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 15:00 GMT
Reality TV dominates US ratings
Joe Millionaire
Women hunt their man in Joe Millionaire
TV viewers in the United States are still flocking to reality shows in preference to traditionally popular dramas.

Despite fears the genre had run its course, more than 18 million viewers tuned in to watch the first episode of Fox's Joe Millionaire.

The programme shows women trying to court a man whom they mistakenly believe is a millionaire, when in fact he is a construction worker.

On rival network ABC, The Bachelorette proved a hit, drawing 17.4 million viewers and beating NBC's competing drama The West Wing.

The Bacherlorette follows a former cheerleader who has her pick of eligible men and is a spin-off from The Bachelor, which is currently being shown on BBC Choice.

Joe Millionaire
Joe Millionaire is not all he seems
Jordan Levin, entertainment president of Warner Brothers, said the mood at the network was "approaching a level of giddiness" after excellent ratings for new programmes High School Reunion and Surreal Life.

Latest ratings show that only three of the top 20 most popular drama or comedy programmes have a larger audience for their current series than their last.

But Mr Levin said American TV networks did not expect the success of reality programmes to last.

He said reality TV did not form a lasting relationship with audiences in the manner a drama can.

"I think you have to be very careful with reality programming because it can be very seductive.

Classic comedy

"But it can start to force you into a place where you're juggling your schedule to satisfy a very long short-term fix."

But the genre will continue for at least another 12 months: a new series of American Idol is due to begin on Fox soon.

CBS is also planning to revive classic comedy The Beverly Hillbillies but with a real family.

The plan for the show has drawn protests from a group representing rural Americans.

Meanwhile, a California-based production company is reported to be in talks with former world heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson's representatives about a new reality programme.

Triage Entertainment wants to film an ordinary man as he is put through intensive training before facing the ex-champion in the ring, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

See also:

15 Jan 03 | TV and Radio
15 Jan 03 | TV and Radio
14 Jan 03 | TV and Radio
14 Jan 03 | TV and Radio
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