The aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were evident in higher ratings for news programs last week, while viewers also drifted back to more conventional series and diversions, based on viewing estimates issued by Nielsen Media Research.
Although most series premieres were delayed, CBS got off to a solid start its Richard Dreyfuss drama, "The Education of Max Bickford"--which replaced "Touched by an Angel" on Sunday nights--aided in part by slightly higher-than-usual tune-in for "60 Minutes" preceding it.
Viewers also showed up in big numbers for a two-hour premiere of ABC's "The Practice," which easily won its time slot against the special "50 Years of NBC Late Night" and CBS' movie "The Last Brickmaker in America." ABC won Saturday as well behind the Miss America pageant.
Notably, viewers also seemed ready to laugh, as the one-hour "Friends" finale from last season--broadcast the same night President Bush addressed Congress--drew the biggest audience in years for a rerun of that series. Individual network ratings were not provided for Bush's address or the telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes," but Nielsen estimated 82.1 million and 59.3 million people, respectively, were watching those telecasts at any given minute, behind only the Super Bowl among events shown this year.