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'Secret Millionaire' looks like a hit for ABC in Sunday ratings upset

Lorenagarcia Sunday's ratings offered a big surprise. ABC looks like it may have a hit with "Secret Millionaire," a feel-good reality show that already had a blink-and-you-missed-it run on Fox a few seasons back. Meanwhile, NBC's heavily promoted "America's Next Great Restaurant" looked not great at all.

"Secret Millionaire,"  which drops a rich person incognito amid ordinary folk, where he or she looks for real-life heroes, delivered a total of 12.6 million total viewers and was the most-watched program on the most competitive Sunday in a while, according to the Nielsen Co. The show is a steadfast hit in the U.K. but has until now never attracted much attention in the U.S. "Secret Millionaire," which gained audience throughout the 8 p.m. hour, is the biggest midseason reality premiere in three years.(On Fox, the show ran as a series of specials in December 2008 that averaged 6.7 million viewers.)

But ABC's gain was NBC's loss. "America's Next Great Restaurant" opened to a weak 4.6 million total viewers, for a fourth-place finish in that 8 p.m. slot. That was especially bad news for NBC, which was hoping that "Restaurant" would provide a strong lead-in for the two-hour premiere of "Celebrity Apprentice," which ended up scoring a modest 7.8 million viewers.

What did you think of "Secret Millionaire" and "America's Next Great Restaurant"?

-- Scott Collins

(Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Lorena Garcia of NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant." Credit: Byron Cohen / NBC.



Comments () | Archives (21)

I thought Secret Millionaire was superub. If the TV execs think ALL of society loves those stupid reality shows, they are very WRONG. Show real reality if you're gonna show anything. I am sick of hearing and reading about how much the "haves" have, what about the entire rest of this nation? To advise even further, it was GREAT. It brought a tear to my eye and touched my heart....good TV for a change.

Yasmin T.

I really liked Secret Millionaire but will more than likely not watch it again. It was a real tear-jerker and I cried during most of the show.

Awesome show

In 1955 I lived in Western Heights. We called the place the "projects" and it looked nothing like it does today or even 20 years ago. Though we did not own the apartment we lived in, we prized it as did most of the others living there. It was a stopping off place for people in difficult circumstances. The yards were green and there were flowers and small gardens around each home.

The older buildings shown had beautiful parquet hardwood floors. Each apartment had 1 to 5 bedrooms, gas heat, and a furnished kitchen with a pantry, utilities included. Very nice dwelling, safe and affordable. Yes, Rule High School was right across the street, Vermont Avenue. Our school housed 7th through 12th grades and was clean, great athletic field and the pride of lots of people.

What happened? Did people stop trying to better themselves and just sit and wait for the "check to come"? I visited the "projects" about 15 years back and
wept for the loss of pride in the people there. You don't have to have lots of money to keep your "home" clean and the area surrounding free of litter. You
do have to be grateful for what is offered and denounce those who would tear it down, knock out the windows, and spray paint vulgar words everywhere!

I realize that all circumstances are different, but it seems to me that society has made it too easy to do nothing and just "wait for the check".

I changed my life with hard work, honesty, and a belief that it was "MY" obligation to take care of myself. Not looking for a hand out but a hand up is the way it should be. I return to Knoxville as often as I can because I know that the people there are the "BEST".

I pray God's Blessings on the people of Western Heights and that when they are rebuilt, the people there will care for them as we did. You see the same situation in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and on and on. Please people rise above it all...with God's help you can.

I loved Secret Millionaire, cried the whole time. It gave me hope that maybe our society isn't as selfish and screwed up as I fear.

Great show - wanted to hug those two beautiful old ladies myself! Great people helping people - much better reality than those other fake and contrived soap opera shows that spotlight human greed and selfishness!

I thought Secret Millionaire was a GREAT idea and very well done.
I will be sure to watch every episode.

Secret Millionaire was absolutely heart felt and with all the warmth we are so much in need of. Congratulations!!
Dani Johnson is an amazing person, and a deserving human being. Great Job!
Having experienced all the good things in life, I am now coming to a cross road.
I know the true feeling of fulfillment is when you are able to help others. I wish I could be a part of this show. I have time and desire, a passion beyond words to help others, specially those great people and organizations from the show. The 2 ladies from "Love Kitchen" were absolutely the most loving and precious people I've seen in a long time. Please keep this show going, it will make many people very happy every Sunday.
Thank You,
Roseli Pestana

I'm only 16 years old and this show touched me so much. Now all I want in life is to make a great deal of money so I too can be able to give back and touch peoples lives. I cried so much during this show as if I was the one receiving the check, this is a great and inspirational show.

Success is not dependant on where I come from and who my parents were. Dani, is a clear example of that. If you have the desire and you know your WHY, you will succeed. Plug in with great mentors and make your life count. My hope is that we will do more than have tears, but go out and do the same as Dani.
She was an excellent choice. She walks her talk.

Loved it! Had me crying the whole time, it was so beautiful. Have been following Dani Johnson for a couple of years now so I'm glad she was featured on the first show. She has such a sweet spirit about her and is so charismatic! Thanks for airing a show that can motivate people into helping others on a regular basis...no matter what the circumstances.

Secret Millionaire is rubbish. Those who truly seek to do good works for those less fortunate do not do so through these types of self-aggrandizing activities. Oops, better leave the expensive bling in the mansion so I can go write a few checks to make myself look like a saint. How about donating some of your fortune to these organizations without being the center of attention.

Not like I'll watch this -- ever -- for the same reason I stopped watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. If ABC really wants to target evangelical Protestants, that's its business, but don't expect me to buy it. The ratings? More proof of how easy it is to fool some people all of the time.

@Ron........Dani Johnson donates much more than what she did on Secret Millionaire! She did not want to do the show at 1st, ABC approached her 4 times before she said yes. Why did she not want to do the show, because her family gives in secret all the time. They don't want the "glory" from people when they give! I know this as I am a client of her for almost a year now. She's loves to help others and see people improve their lives!

I LOVED the show! I'm so glad Dani Johnson agreed to do it. She has taught my husband and I how to eliminate $260,000 in debt in 2.5 years and equipped me with skills to go from a struggling college professor with low evaluation scores to one of the most sought after teachers whose supervisor praised her in front of the entire department and the Dean! Dani is the real deal and has also taught us how to GIVE to others. I know she didn't want to do the show because she and her family love to give in secret, but her example can help mobilize our nation to STOP looking for the gov't to save us and to save ourselves!

I really enjoyed that show and it made me cry so much. It was great! I’m so glad there are still great people out there, helping others in need! Great, great show!!!

Western Heights is not the worst area in Knoxville. I lived most of my life in Knoxville, as did my mother who was born there. I went to school with the kids from Western Heights (which is a housing project), as well as lonsdale homes and Christenberry Heights. But this area is actually much more pleasant than the housing projects in SE Knoxville. They were probably afraid to send her there. One walk down Magnolia and if she didn't get robbed or shot, she would have been solicited for sex at least 100 times, and asked if she was lookin to buy crack. I'm glad she chose the organizations she did. It takes a lot more than one person writing a check to make a change, but you have to start somewhere.

I watched Secret Millionaire because their advertisement caught my attention. They used Michael Jackson's Hold My Hand to advertise the show. Since I saw the advertisement, I looked forward to watching it. We all know that Michael was such a good humanitarian, and his song Hold My Hand was very appropriate for the show because it talks about helping each other. During the initial show, there are a lot MJ fans tweeting and about the show. I guess, somehow it added to the overall number of viewers.

Hold My Hand!

Excellent, excellent show!!!

I think Secret Millionaire is an outstanding reality show, it's touching to all, and touches the lives of those less fortunate, having went from a comfortable life, to that of those in need was terrible, what was a weekly allowance for me is now what we as a family of five live off monthly, and to see how one person can make a change , and letting those who provide a service too help others know they are much appreciated is so heart felt. I know how it made me feel when my children ages 11 and 8 wanted to feed the homeless for Thanksgiving and Christmas this last year, it was amazing and people were so grateful and loving I would'nt change the experience for anything. Thank you for the show. LV from Tacoma, Washington LOVES IT !

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