'Closer,' 'Saving Grace' have strong starts

'Generation Kill' a bit slow out of the gate for HBO

TNT's "The Closer" and "Saving Grace" had big season premieres Monday night, though both were down from their summer 2007 bows.

Meanwhile, HBO's miniseries "Generation Kill" got off to a relatively modest start in its premiere Sunday night.

"Closer," starring Kyra Sedgwick, averaged 7.8 million total viewers in its fourth-season premiere at 9 p.m. Monday, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was off slightly from the series' record-breaking Season 3 debut in June 2007 (8.8 million). Still, "Closer" ranks as ad-supported cable's most-watched series telecast for the year so far (ad-supported cable networks include most basic cable networks, with the exception of Disney Channel and a few others).

Meanwhile, "Grace," which stars Holly Hunter, averaged 5.2 million viewers at 10 p.m. Monday, holding on to 67% of its "Closer" lead-in. That's down from its July 2007 series premiere, which pulled in 6.4 million viewers.

In the key demos, "Closer" averaged 2.5 million adults 18-49 and 3.3 million adults 25-54; "Grace" pulled in 1.6 million in 18-49 and 2.3 million in 25-54.

"Generation Kill" debuted at 9-10 p.m. Sunday to just over 1 million total viewers. The Iraq war miniseries was on par with the network's last film, "Recount," which also centered on a hot-button issue, the 2000 presidential election.

"Kill" garnered less than half the viewership of HBO's previous miniseries, "John Adams," which drew 2.5 million viewers in its March premiere. It also came in under other recent HBO movies, including last year's historical epic "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (1.9 million) and the Queen Latifah starrer "Life Support" (1.5 million).

However, HBO movies often quadruple their ratings in subsequent airings following their premieres. A repeat airing at 10:30 p.m. Sunday pulled in another 300,000 viewers.

"Kill" follows a string of Iraq War-themed theatricals that have not connected with audiences, but HBO co-president Richard Plepler and West Coast president Michael Lombardo brushed aside concerns about "Kill" last week at the Television Critics Assn press tour, saying the mini had less to do with politics than telling the story about a particular Marine reconnaissance.

Meanwhile, ABC Family's original movie "Picture This!" starring Ashley Tisdale, captured 4.3 million total viewers in its debut at 8-10 p.m. Sunday. It also was TV's most-watched program in its time slot among women 18-34 (613,000), viewers 12-34 (2.2 million) and females 12-34 (1.9 million).
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