Jimmy Kimmel is cleaning up nicely for cleaning up nicely.
The formerly formality-eschewing late-night talk host has scored his best ratings of the year since adding a tie to his on-stage attire.
For the week of Nov. 21, the most recent late-night ratings period available, Kimmel's ABC show averaged 1.8 million viewers, its best showing since December 2004, per Nielsen Media Research.
According to ABC, Kimmel began wearing a tie on Oct. 10. Since then, his show's ratings, aside from one down week, have climbed. Overall, his numbers are up 15 percent since the top button was buttoned and the neckwear was knotted.
ABC isn't tying the tie to the ratings uptick. (It had to be prompted to research the debut date of the fashion noose.) Rather, the network has boasted of key guest appearances by the likes of Destiny's Child and Bobby Brown.
Prior to donning a tie, Kimmel modeled a modified Man Show look: Suit, long-sleeved dress shirt--unbuttoned, revealing a hint of white undershirt. His motives for dressing like a full-blown grownup at age 38 are unknown. "I don't know exactly why [he did it]," says ABC spokeswoman Jennifer De La Rosa. "I think he just started wearing a tie."
To catch the competition, Kimmel is going to need something fancier than a tie--perhaps a cummerbund and spats. Among the seven network late-night shows, Jimmy Kimmel Live (averaging 1.6 million for the season) ranks sixth, far behind NBC's Tonight Show (5.8 million) and just a notch above NBC's Last Call (1.5 million).
For cravat conspiracy theorists, it's worth noting that the least watched of the late-night trio, Last Call, starring the dress-casual Carson Daly, is also the only one not to feature a tie-wearing host. (Nightline's Cynthia McFadden, the only woman in the boys' club, doesn't wear a tie, either, but her cohosts Martin Bashir and Terry Moran do.)
On Tuesday night, Kimmel and his tie welcome Larry King and his suspenders.
Elsewhere in the TV week ended Sunday:At least the first half of CBS' papal miniseries, Pope John Paul II (55th place, 7.5 million), had an excuse for its lowly ratings--it went up against the devout women of ABC's Desperate Housewives (first place, 25.5 million). ABC's Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II (63rd place, 6.7 million) got outranked by an NBC repeat of Joey (58th place, 7.3 million).
NBC's The Happy Elf (78th place, 5.7 million) is a "destined-to-be holiday classic"--provided it gets out of the way of established holiday classic Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (44th place, 8.7 million) on ABC.
How you like him now, Santa? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (16th place, 15.8 million) soared in front of its biggest audience in five years for CBS.
Given recent circumstances, perhaps it's best if the stars of ABC's Lost (fourth place, 21.5 million) don't celebrate their latest big ratings.
Fox's Prison Break scrambled to its so-called fall finale before 12.2 million witnesses (30th place)--up more than 20 percent from its season average. New episodes are due back in March.
If Sunday's Curb Your Enthusiasm season finale was the HBO comedy's series finale, the comedy didn't exactly go out in Seinfeld fashion, drawing all of 1.1 million viewers. For the record, the cable network says no decisions have been made about Curb's future. Creator and star Larry David seems to have weighed in, though, titling last weekend's episode, "The End."
Donna Mills looked smashing, but the effect was lost on CBS' sparsely attended Knots Landing reunion (62nd place, 6.9 million).
The most fascinating thing about the Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2005 (24th place, 13 million)? The ABC host's fascination with Camilla Parker Bowles, named the year's most absolutely most fascinating person.
Judging by the improved numbers for ABC's Commander in Chief (21st place, 13.7 million), constituents like seeing Mark-Paul Gosselaar play the President of the United States like Mr. Belding.
Fox has it in for Killer Instinct (86th place, 4.1 million), the fourth freshman show to be axed by the network.
Football's undefeated Indianapolis Colts scored another win by helping ABC's Monday Night Football (third place, 22.6 million) to the franchise's best ratings since 2000.
Howard Stern's media reign continues. Sunday's 60 Minutes (11th place, 17.5 million), featuring an interview with the soon-to-be satellite radio star, netted the CBS newsmag its most young adult viewers since last December.
Overall, CBS won the week among total viewers (averaging 12.9 million); ABC (12.4 million) won the week among totally desirable ones aged 18 to 49. The two networks shared the glory in the just-concluded November sweeps. CBS claimed the total viewers title outright, and ABC tied CBS for first place in the demo.
Among the stragglers last week, NBC (10.3 million) managed a pair of third-place finishes; Fox (7 million) a pair of fourth-place ones.
UPN (3.6 million) continued its newfound dominance over the WB (3.1 million).
Here's a look of the 10 most watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 25.5 million viewers
2. CSI, CBS, 23.2 million viewers
3. Monday Night Football, ABC, 22.6 million viewers
4. Lost, ABC, 21.5 million viewers
5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 20.6 million viewers
6. Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 19.8 million viewers
7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 19.8 million viewers
8. NCIS, NBC, 18.2 million viewers
9. NFL Monday Showcase, ABC, 18.1 million viewers
10. Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 17.5 million viewers