'Howie Do It' does just fine

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The debut of NBC's hidden-camera series "Howie Do It" enjoyed a stronger-than-expected launch Friday.

"Howie" (7.7 million viewers, 2.1 rating/7 share in adults 18-49), which features "Deal or No Deal" host Howie Mandel playing pranks, placed second in the adult demo at 8 p.m. behind the usual time-period leader, CBS' "Ghost Whisperer" (10.6 million, 2.5/8). It marked NBC's best non-Olympics performance in the hour since February.

"Howie" also gave the biggest Friday lead-in yet to "Lipstick Jungle" (4 million, 1.3/4), which aired its finale. The dramedy has failed to pop in the slot, though, decreasing the likelihood of a series renewal.

The second season of CBS' "Flashpoint" (10.1 million, 2.1/6) premiered Friday at 9 p.m. Although the crime drama's adult demo rating matched that for "Howie," the result wasn't as impressive given the show's lead-in and CBS' usual dominance of the night. "Flashpoint" was just slightly better (by 11%) than previous occupant "The Ex List" at retaining the "Ghost" rating.

With Neil Patrick Harris of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" as host and Taylor Swift as musical guest, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" posted a 6.0/14 metered-market household rating Saturday, matching its best showing since Nov. 1. (partialdiff)
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