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NEWS & NOTES : KICKING OFF MAY SWEEPS FRENZY, NO. 1 NBC BURIES COMPETITION.

Byline: Daily News Wire Services

NBC kicked off the May sweeps last Thursday night by shellacking the competition in the Nielsen department.

With original episodes in place for the entire powerhouse lineup, the network skated to a Nielsen victory in every half hour of the night. And in most cases, it won by a two-to-one margin.

For the night, NBC averaged a 19.2 rating (percentage of the nation's 97 million TV homes) and a 31 share (percentage of the sets in use), with an average 28.1 million viewers per show.

How big was the margin of victory? CBS was runner-up with a 9.1 rating/15 share, averaging 12.3 million viewers.

No surprise, NBC's ratings peaked with the 10 p.m. telecast of ``ER,'' which averaged a 23.1 rating/38 share, with 33.5 million viewers. The hit medical drama outdrew the combined ratings and viewers for its time slot competitors ``48 Hours,'' on CBS, and ``The Specialist,'' on ABC.

Sharon Lawrence's new ``Fired Up'' NBC sitcom, while winning its 9:30 p.m. time period between ``Seinfeld'' and ``ER,'' continues to lose a significant portion of its lead-in audience. Last week, some 17 percent of the ``Seinfeld'' crowd tuned out when ``Fired Up'' came on. According to Nielsen, ``Seinfeld'' averaged 31.6 million viewers, while ``Fired Up'' drew 25.3 million.

Move over Moesha: Figure skating soon will be in the house at UPN. The fledgling network has signed a multiyear deal to air the U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championship starting this fall. Acquiring the rights for pro skating could be the start of a push by UPN to get into sports television as a way to broaden its audience, sources said. ``You need something that expands beyond the reach of your regular series,'' one network insider said. The Marquee Group, the program production and management company headed by former Madison Square Garden chief Bob Gutkowski, will produce and package the event, which has not been on broadcast television in recent years.

`USA Dead': Cable's USA Network is taking the life out of ``USA Live,'' its three-hour midday block of programming.

The show, which was a mix of live talk and information built around episodes of ``Love Connection'' and ``The People's Court,'' is closing down, confirmed Rod Perth, president of USA Networks Entertainment.

``We are having to move on with, frankly, a degree of regret,'' Perth said. `` `USA Live' was fresh and it was hosted very capably by Bertice Berry. In the end, the underpinnings (`Love Connection,' `People's Court') were just running out of steam.''

The other McCartney: The audience for Paul McCartney's cozy little chat with 50 fans about his new ``Flaming Pie'' CD has just grown a bit: It will be telecast worldwide.

Cable channel VH1 will carry the session at 1 p.m. on May 17, with about a 90-minute tape delay. After the telecast, McCartney then will do an hourlong live online chat, taking some fresh questions and other questions previously submitted. (Queries can be submitted through VH1 online, at http://www.vh1.com.)
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 29, 1997
Words:515
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