Stephen M. Silverman
January 10, 2003 12:31 PM

Go, Trista. Wednesday night’s debut of the new ABC reality series, “The Bachelorette,” starring “The Bachelor” reject Trista Rehn, pulled in an impressive 17.4 million viewers and won its time period, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

The numbers show that “The Bachelorette” outdrew its closest competitor, NBC’s “The West Wing,” by 3.4 million viewers.

Overall, it was good news for new reality shows, the Associated Press reports.

ABC’s “Celebrity Mole Hawaii,” featuring such second-tier celebrities as Stephen Baldwin and Kim Coles, attracted an average of 10.7 million viewers, making it No. 2 in its timeslot — right behind NBC’s “Law & Order,” which averaged 19.6 million viewers.

On CBS, the newly revived “Star Search” with host Arsenio Hall was No. 1 at 8 p.m. Wednesday, with 13.8 million viewers. That made it one of the network’s most-watched Wednesdays of the season.

And in further bad news for “The West Wing” (which has been suffering a ratings decline this season), a faulty overhead light ignited a fire on its set Thursday, prompting an evacuation of about 100 people who were on the Warner Bros. soundstage in Burbank, says AP.

Sprinklers doused the flames, said Burbank Fire Marshal David Starr, and there were no reports of injuries.

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