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Second verse, same as the first

Wednesday's second two-hour audition edition of Fox's American Idol cruised to another overwhelming win in the "fast national" Nielsens.

Its 36.9 million viewers fell barely short of the 37.4 million for Tuesday's sixth season launch. But it performed significantly better than last January's Wednesday premiere, which drew a then record-setting 31.6 million viewers.

Rival networks simply ducked, including CBS. The network's entertainment president, Nina Tassler, echoed her counterpart at NBC by referring to "the Death Star known as American Idol."

CBS' older-skewing Tuesday and Wednesday dramas, principally NCIS and Criminal Minds, still fare reasonably well against Idol. "We have our reflector shields up," Tassler told TV critics Thursday.

Kelly Kahl, the network's scheduling chief, said the shows are "not Idol-proof, but maybe kind of Idol-resistant. We hang in there pretty well. the other guys get vaporized."

Wednesday's vaporees included two new ABC comedies, The Knights of Prosperity and In Case of Emergency, which already had been struggling in the ratings.

Meanwhile, here's video of Idol judge Paula Abdul's recent, less-than-stable interview with Fox's Seattle station. During the course of it, she says that any publicity is good publicity. If so, this is one helluva litmus test: