TNT attains 'Grace' with strong debut

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TNT's new drama series "Saving Grace" had a big debut Monday.

"Grace," starring Holly Hunter as an Oklahoma City police detective, averaged 6.4 million total viewers at 10 p.m. Monday, making it the most-watched basic cable series premiere of the year, according to Nielsen Media Research. The drama held on to 86% of its lead-in, "The Closer," which averaged 7.3 million viewers at 9 p.m.

"Grace" also beat the June 18 debut of another new TNT drama, the Treat Williams starrer "Heartland," which averaged 4.3 million, holding on to less than half of its lead-in, the season premiere of "Closer." It should be noted that "Closer" is down from its Season 3 opener, which averaged more than 8.8 million total viewers.

"Heartland" has since moved to 8 p.m. Mondays and is averaging 3.2 million viewers through six first-run episodes.

In the key adult demos, "Grace" held on to most of its lead-in, averaging 1.9 million in 18-49 and 2.5 million in 25-54. "Closer" averaged 2 million in 18-49 and 2.8 million in 25-54.

Meanwhile, Spike's two-hour premiere of "Kill Point" averaged 2.1 million total viewers at 9 p.m. Sunday, with a second airing of "Kill Point" at 10:47 p.m. drawing 969,000 viewers.

While the episode didn't match the record-breaking debut of Spike TV's first original drama series, "Blade," in June 2006 — "Blade" averaged 2.5 million viewers to become Spike's most-watched series premiere ever — it did perform consistently throughout the two hours. "Kill Point," starring John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, averaged a 1.6 household rating in its first quarter-hour and a 1.5 in its last quarter-hour.

Elsewhere, the finale of Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star," which saw Amy Finley crowned the winner, averaged 3.4 million viewers from 9-10 p.m. Sunday. That makes the finale the most-watched telecast ever in the network's history as well as its most-watched series ever, averaging 2.2 million viewers a week, up 38% from Season 2 and up 68% compared with Season 1.

Meanwhile, Food Network sister channel HGTV also had its most-watched series premiere ever with the second-season premiere of "HGTV Design Star" at 10-11 p.m. Sunday. The episode, a casting edition titled "Making the Cut," averaged 1.43 million viewers. The show moves to its regular slot of 9 p.m. Sundays next week.

Final numbers for Thursday's debut of AMC's "Mad Men" also are available following Nielsen processing delays last week (HR 7/23). The series — AMC's first original drama — averaged 1.6 million from 10-11 p.m. An encore airing at 11 p.m. averaged 716,000 viewers.

At Lifetime, the new dramas "Side Order of Life" and "State of Mind" were off in their second week, though "Mind" did improve upon last week's premiere episode in the key female demos of 18-34 and 18-49. "Side Order" averaged 1.7 million at 8 p.m. Sunday (down from 2.4 million), while "Mind" averaged 1.9 million (down from 2.3 million).

"Mind" was up 11% in women 18-34 (1.0 rating) and up 8% in women 18-49 (1.4 rating).

Lifetime's 10 p.m. Sunday drama, the hit series "Army Wives," was down only slightly from last week (3.5 million vs. 3.7 million).
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