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I love that Rosie. Really.

"The Rosie O'Donnell Show" could actually be worth staying home for. It's the first new daytime talk show in . . . well, in memory that can entertain you and lift your spirits.No "Oprah" or "Sally" or "Maury" here. Rosie and her show are all about fun.

As promised, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" (seen locally weekdays at 11 a.m. on Ch. 13) looks like a late-night talk show. Rosie tells jokes, she schmoozes with her guests, she does comedy bits. Her set looks an awful lot like the various incarnations of David Letterman's sets over the years - although a bit brighter, given the daytime time slot.

As O'Donnell has frequently pointed out herself, this is nothing new or original. It's a point she keeps emphasizing by tossing something through her fake window to breaking-glass sound effects (a la Letterman), or wondering where "Reege" is, or introducing the audience to "Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra."

But it is a terrific change from the sort of dysfunctional freak fests that are "Jenny Jones" and "Ricki Lake."

Imagine, a daytime talk show you could actually have on even if your kids are in the room!

What makes "The Rosie O'Don-nell Show" work is Rosie herself. She's a natural. There's a total lack of pretentiousness, and a great self-deprecating wit.

She's funny. She's sassy. And she comes across as one of us. She relates to the folks at home.

Even if it's only an act, O'Don-nell seems like a regular gal. Not like Kathie Lee Gifford, who thinks she's a regular person but isn't.

And the strength of her charm and charisma could carry Rosie a long way.

And the early returns are good. The overnight ratings for the show were a very respectable 4.4 - the highest debut of any daytime talk show in the 1990s. And that number put "Rosie" behind only "Oprah" and "Regis & Kathie Lee."

Neither the show nor its host are perfect, however. The gag of having an audience member act as the show's announcer is wearing thin quickly. And there have been a few first-week problems with camera work and direction.

O'Donnell could use a few gag writers with a bit more talent for her opening bits. And she has occasionally overwhelmed her guest - as in Monday's debut when she barely let Susan Lucci get a word in edgewise.

Still, we can chalk that up to enthusiasm. And it was more endearing than annoying.

I love that Rosie. Really.

EXPANDING AND MOVING: As has been rumored for months, Ch. 2's "Dave Fox Sports Den" will expand from 15 to 30 minutes - making it more of a head-to-head competitor with Ch. 5's "SportsBeat Sunday."

Not that that will bump Rod Decker's long-running "Take Two" to a later hour. Instead, it will go earlier, airing Sundays at 5:30 p.m. - between KUTV's local news and CBS's "60 Minutes."

The changes are tentatively set for the second week of August.

OVERNIGHTS COMING: Soon local TV types won't have to wait for the February, May, July and November sweeps periods to find out how they're doing.

They'll be able to check the overnight ratings every morning.

The deal for wiring the Salt Lake television market is firmly in place. In October, 350 homes will be wired with the so-called "people meters" that will monitor their every viewing move.

That information will be available to the local stations the next morning. And the Salt Lake TV market - the 36th largest in the nation - will be included in the national overnight figures as well.

It was CBS's purchase of KUTV-Ch. 2 that pushed this deal from talk to reality. At least three stations in a market must agree to purchase the date - which is much more expensive than the four-times-yearly diaries - and for a number of years, only two stations were interested.

Fox-owned KSTU-Ch. 13 has wanted to go to people meters for years. Chris Craft-owned KTVX-Ch. 4 has also shown interest.

KSL-Ch. 5 was never particularly interested at all. The conventional wisdom is that people meters help the stations that appeal to younger stations the most - which wouldn't help Ch. 5. And, at least when it comes to the all-important late news, KSL had the most to lose.

The former owners of KUTV-Ch. 2 - the Hatch family and various interim investors - wouldn't pay for overnights either. But, at the moment, Ch. 2 is about the only CBS-owned station that isn't in a wired market.

So, come October, the way the stations get their ratings information is going to change. And, chances are, some of their numbers may show undergo considerable change as well.

RUMOR DU JOUR: Speculation is intensifying that "60 Minutes" is going to give up on its debating pundits experiment. Don't be surprised if Molly Ivins, Stanley Crouch and P.J. O'Rourke are some nothing but a memory on the show.

CLASSY LADY: Candice Bergen demonstrated just how classy she is once again this week, telling her producers not to submit her name for Emmy consideration.

The actress won the Emmy for outstanding actress in a comedy five times in "Murphy Brown's" first seven seasons.

"I think she just figured after five wins it was time to step aside and let someone else win," a spokes-woman for the actress said.

QUOTABLE: "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher:

"Jim Baker has written a book about his life as a crooked televangelist called, `I Was Wrong.' He's also writing a sequel about his marriage to Tammy Faye called, `And Blind Too!' "