Stars and would-be stars dominated the prime-time landscape.

The annual Academy Awards presentation drew 36.3 million viewers to ABC Sunday night. It was the most-watched entertainment program on television in two years and a rebound of 4 million viewers from last year's least popular Oscars ever.

Fans tuned up for the Oscars by gawking at gowns and tuxes on ABC's red carpet special, which was seen by 24.4 million people, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday.

The grand entrances seem to have usurped Barbara Walters' annual special as an anticipated event. Walters' special, which faced expanded red carpet coverage on other networks, was seen by 11.5 million people. The would-be stars? The contestants on "American Idol," of course. Fox's talent show was seen by 25.4 million and 24.8 million on its two nights the week of Feb. 16-22, Nielsen said.

For the week, network averages were: Fox, 11.8 million viewers (6.9 rating, 11 share); ABC, 11.1 million (6.8, 11); CBS, 10.2 million (6.4, 10); NBC, 6.2 million (3.9, 6); My Network, 1.5 million (0.9, 1); CW, 1.2 million (0.8, 1); ION, 620,000 (0.4, 1).

In the evening news race: NBC "Nightly News," 10 million (6.5, 12); ABC "World News," 8.4 million (5.7, 11); "CBS Evening News," 6.7 million (4.5, 9).


1 Academy Awards (ABC)

2 American Idol (Tuesday) (Fox)

3 American Idol (Wednesday) (Fox)

4 Oscar's Red Carpet 2009 (ABC)

5 The Mentalist (CBS)


7 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)

8 Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

9 Criminal Minds (CBS)

10 House (Fox)

11 Survivor: Tocantins (CBS)

12 Two and a Half Men (CBS)

13 The Bachelor (ABC)

14 CSI: NY (CBS)

15 Without a Trace (CBS)

16 Barbara Walters Special (Sunday) (ABC)

17 Lost (ABC)

18 24 (Fox)

19 Eleventh Hour (CBS)

20 Private Practice (ABC)