'Idol' Premiere Draws 35 Million Viewers

The ratings juggernaut that is "American Idol" had a monster season premiere Tuesday, coming back with a vengeance to post its highest opening-night numbers yet with more than 35 million viewers.

The ratings juggernaut that is "American Idol" had a monster season premiere Tuesday, coming back with a vengeance to post its highest opening-night numbers yet with more than 35 million viewers.

The show's two-hour premiere centered on auditions taped in September in Chicago and propelled Fox to a historic night. The network logged its highest ratings ever for entertainment programming in total viewers and its second-best numbers in adults 18-49, second only to the "Joe Millionaire" finale on Feb. 17, 2003.

The fifth-season premiere of "Idol" averaged 35.5 million viewers and a 15.3 rating/34 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. That was up 6% in total viewers and 9% in the demo compared with last year's premiere of 33.6 million viewers and a 14.0/33. It also scored big among adults 18-34, averaging a 14.7/36 compared with the 14.3/37 a year ago.

"Idol" started strong, averaging 29.5 million viewers and a 12.2/30 in its first half-hour at 8 p.m. It quickly climbed to more than 30 million viewers before peaking at 38.7 million at 9 p.m. and with a 17.1/36 at 9:30 p.m.

In related news, twin brothers who serenaded "Idol" judges and got through to the next round on Tuesday night's premiere episode are reportedly in hot water with Tennessee police.

Terrell Brittenum was locked up Jan. 10 in Shelby County Jail on an outstanding warrant for charges related to the alleged illegal purchase of a car in Rockdale County, Ga., according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Derrell Brittenum is expected to turn himself in on charges of forgery, theft by deception and financial identity fraud, a sheriff's spokesperson told the paper.

The 28-year-old siblings, who hail from Southeast Memphis, are accused of using another man's identity to buy a 2005 Dodge Magnum in June, according to the paper. They were arrested separately and released on bond in November. Because they did not return to Georgia to face charges, authorities there issued warrants for their arrest and extradition. An extradition hearing date has not been set for Terrell Brittenum, who remains jailed without bond.

Contacted by The Commercial Appeal, a Fox Broadcasting spokesperson refused to comment on the Brittenum twins or their status as "Idol" contestants, saying, "We do not comment on the personal lives of our show participants."

Several post-audition rounds of "American Idol" have already been taped, with Feb. 21 announced as the first live episode of the show's fifth season.