Stephen M. Silverman
October 22, 2003 03:22 PM

Despite heavy promotion for FOX’s new shows, “The Next Joe Millionaire” and “Skin” flopped on Monday, with each drawing fewer than 7 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers.

“We’re disappointed,” Gail Berman, FOX entertainment president, tells the Associated Press. “I wish I knew what happened.” She doesn’t say what the network plans to do with the two stinkers.

The first “Joe Millionaire” was last winter’s surprise hit, attracting 18.1 million viewers for its first episode in January and 40 million viewers for its finale in February — all watching women chase a faux fellow who claimed to be stinking rich.

Now, few seem to care. Texas cowboy David Smith, 24, despite his many shirtless appearances prior to the show’s debut, along with the 14 women pursuing him, only hooked in 6.7 million viewers.

The Hollywood Reporter also points out that the new “Joe Millionaire” was actually beaten in total viewers by the WB Network’s perennial “7th Heaven” (6.8 million vs. 7.2 million total viewers).

“Skin,” produced by Hollywood powerhouse Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Bad Boys”), was an even bigger disappointment. The drama about a relationship between a pornographer’s daughter and a district attorney’s son was seen by 6.5 million people — less than the premiere of last season’s “Girl’s Club,” which was cancelled after two episodes.

Thanks to the new drama, FOX ranked a distant fourth in the ratings against some lively competition, including the first hour of ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” the CBS sitcoms “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Two and a Half Men” and NBC’s casino drama “Las Vegas.”

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