Originally created 03/19/01

'Jack & Jill': Up the Nielsen hill



New episodes of "Jack & Jill" are doing dramatically better in the ratings than "Felicity" reruns that aired around this time last year.

That's the result of The WB's winter experiment of airing the romantic comedy in the "Felicity" time slot instead of repeating "Felicity."

"Felicity" will return with new episodes after "Jack & Jill" airs all of its 13 episodes, which means viewers won't get stuck with repeats.

And that's a good thing, for viewers and for The WB's Nielsen ratings.

"Jack & Jill" is doing 70 percent better than "Felicity" reruns among viewers between ages 18 and 34, a WB spokesman said. And the ratings are up 85 percent among women between 18 and 34, a key advertising demographic for The WB.

The ratings are up 70 percent for viewers 12 to 34 and 79 percent for female viewers between ages 12 and 34, the spokesman said.

"Jack & Jill" airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays. And I enjoy this series, with all its quick banter, more than "Felicity," a good series about students at New York University.

"Jack & Jill" is about young professionals in New York during their first years after college.

The series is about the big first moments of life, said Ivan Sergei, who stars as Jill.

"It's about the first time everybody is in love, the first time of losing your love," Sergei said during a phone interview. "It's a fine blend of comedy and drama."

So far this season, David "Jill" Jillefsky has proposed to Jacqueline "Jack" Barrett (Amanda Peet), and Jack and Mikey Russo (Simon Rex) have become partners running a bar. This is forcing the fun-loving, women-chasing Mikey to become more responsible.

In the new episode airing this Wednesday (March 21), Jack and Jill must revise their wedding plans. The story is called "Battle for the Bahamas."

Sergei said he and Peet like doing the fast-paced, rollercoaster dialogue of "Jack & Jill." The series and Jack and Jill's relationship are reminiscent of the screwball romantic comedy films of the 1930s and '40s. Sergei and Peet have the potential to someday become another Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn if they continue to act together after "Felicity." (Casting directors, that's a not-so-subtle hint.) Sergei said he likes the tension as Jack and Jill try to solve their disagreements without confrontation. "You don't want to fight with someone."

Peet continues to garner fame as a movie star. She's currently starring in "Saving Silverman."

"Am I famous?" Peet said, laughing after a Pasadena news conference. "I don't know."

Sergei, who starred in "The Opposite of Sex" and some independent films, explained his approach to his movie roles.

"As I read new scripts for films, one of the things I try to think of is my own limitations," Sergei said. "Can I see the character's point of view? Does it (the character and story) make sense to me? Is he well drawn out?"

During other interviews, "Jack and Jill" cast members said they can relate to their characters.

Jamie Pressly ("Can't Hardly Wait" and "Ringmaster"') talked about her character, Audrey Griffin, a dancer who appeared in a movie. "I've been a dancer for 20 years. She and I have a lot in common. My mom's a dance teacher. I started when I was 3."

Pressly discussed Audrey being betrayed by the most responsible character in the whole bunch - Barto Zane (Justin Kirk of "Love! Valour! Compassion!"). Barto, feeling insecure when Audrey got attention from Hollywood executives, cheated on her at the end of last season. "I'm sure she will forgive him, but not necessarily forget," Pressly said.

Rex, who plays Mikey, is modest about stardom and fans. "I don't see myself as a hearthrob," he said. Rex has an upcoming role in the movie "Forsaken," due for an April release in theaters. "I play a gofer for vampires," he said.

He also appears in the upcoming collegiate comedy, "Going Greek."