August 25, 1998 12:00 AM

This week’s episode of CBS’s “Survivor,” in which — in a surprising twist — Gretchen Cordy was kicked off the island, was the seven-week-old series’ highest rated ever, according to the Nielsens. Wednesday’s installment drew 24.5 million viewers, up from the previous week’s total of 24.29 million. (It was the week’s No. 1 show overall.) Actually, the 24.5 million total was an average. The episode began with 22.64 million watchers in its first half-hour and increased 17%, to attract 26.47 million in its second.

* Meanwhile, despite good critical notices, ratings for the new season’s first three episodes of “South Park” have plunged by 19% in comparison to those of last year, though its network claims that the adult cartoon show has suffered only a slight shrinkage of its target demographic audience of those between the ages of 18 and 49. “The show has lost a lot of teens,” Comedy Central’s Michelle Ganeless told Variety. She said this didn’t surprise her, because “teens tend to be fickle in their viewing.”

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