i>IDOL STEAMROLLS THE COMPETITION

Some 33.56 million viewers tuned in to Wednesday night's edition of Fox's American Idol, some 11 million more than watched the three other major competing networks combined. The two-hour talent contest attracted 27.72 million viewers during the first half-hour segment at 8:00 p.m., peaking during the 9:00 p.m. half hour with 36.88 million. Fox scored an 18.8 rating and a 28 share for the night, more than three times greater than its nearest competitor, CBS, which registered a 6.2/10. NBC placed third with a 5.3/8, while ABC trailed with a 3.4/5. Among the key 18-49 demographic the disparity was even greater, with Fox scoring a 13.9 rating versus second place NBC's 2.6, CBS's 2.5 and ABC's 1.8.

FOURTH-PLACE IDOL FINISHER LANDS IN FIRST PLACE ON CHARTS

Last week's huge ratings for Fox's American Idol are being credited with putting former Idol contestant Chris Daughtry at the top of the U.S. pop album charts for the first time since it debuted nine weeks ago. (The album debuted in November in second place.) Billboard magazine reported that sales of the Daughtry album increased 30 percent over the previous week. The singer's single "It's Not Over" remains high on the top 40 and "Hot AC" (adult contemporary music) charts. Billboard also noted that Daughtry's album edged out the second-place finisher, the soundtrack from Dreamgirls, by only 130 copies, the slimmest margin of victory ever recorded by the trade publication.

20TH CENTURY FOX LOOKING FOR YOUTUBE POSTER

A federal judge in Northern California has granted 20th Century Fox subpoenas that have been served on YouTube.com demanding that the video site disclose who uploaded entire recent episodes of 24 and The Simpsons on the site. The 24 episodes reportedly appeared on YouTube before they were broadcast. A subscriber with the username ECOtotal posted the copyrighted material on January 8 or earlier, according to the Fox court filing. Subsequently YouTube, which requires that subscribers post no more than 10 minutes of any TV show, removed the videos and suspended the user's account.

LOPEZ DISSES LENO: NEW CELEB FEUD?

TV star George Lopez may have touched off the latest celebrity feud as he mocked Jay Leno on a radio talk show in Orlando, FL Wednesday, calling him "the biggest two-faced dude in TV" and a "back stabber." He did not disclose what had led to his rant against the Tonight show host. Lopez also charged that Leno was the "worst interviewer on television" and that when he last appeared on the show, one of the producers stood behind him holding cue cards with questions for Leno to read. Lopez said that while he was answering one question, he could see Leno's lips moving as he read the next one.

FAST-FOOD WORKERS SCORE FEDERLINE AD

Fast-food workers are slinging hash at a planned Super Bowl commercial by Nationwide Insurance featuring Kevin Federline as a rap superstar. At the end of the ad, it's revealed that Federline is only day-dreaming and that in reality he's a fry cook at a hamburger joint. The National Restaurant Association has protested the spot, claiming that it suggests that working in a fast-food restaurant is "demeaning and unpleasant." The Associated Press quoted several teenage fast-food employees who insisted that they work hard for a living. "Everybody starts from the bottom," said one. "He just married into it," referring to Federline's recently ended marriage to singer Britney Spears. Federline had previously been a pizza delivery boy. In an interview with the A.P., Nationwide spokesman Eric Hardgrove said, "In this commercial we are using a humorous characterization of Kevin Federline's life to encourage others to prepare for sudden changes in their lives."

FROM BIG BROTHER BED TO INDIAN HOTBED?

Jade Goody, the British D-list celebrity who touched off an international outcry after she shouted racial epithets at Bollywood star Shillpa Shetty on the U.K.'s Celebrity Big Brother, is planning to visit India in an apparent effort to atone for her remarks. In an unattributed article appearing in the British gossip magazine Hello, it was reported that Shetty wants to prove to the Indian people that she is not prejudiced. Earlier, the Indian High Commission in London purchased a full-page advertisement in the London Independent, inviting Goody to visit India and experience its "healing nature."

Brian B.