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Kevin Costner, Basic Cable Star! Hatfields & McCoys Draws 13.9 Million Viewers

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Kevin Costner lives. Monday’s premiere of Hatfields & McCoys, in which he and Bill Paxton play opposite ends of the legendary feud over six hours, drew 13.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched telecast in basic cable history outside of sports. (Throw in those who watched the 11 p.m. encore and that number shoots up to 17 million.) Westerns are big business on cable — Robert Duvall’s Broken Trail brought 10 million viewers to AMC in 2006, and TNT’s Crossfire Trail was watched by 12.5 million in 2001 — but is proving to be an even bigger lifesaver for Costner, whose last decent big-screen performer was the Coast Guard drama The Guardian, co-starring Ashton Kutcher. The remaining second and third parts of History’s Hatfields & McCoys will air tonight and Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Photo: Kevin Lynch