Hollywood's love-fest for director Martin Scorsese on the Academy Awards proved marginally more interesting to TV viewers than last year's Oscars ceremony.

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Ratings for the show in the nation's 55 biggest markets were up 2 percent over 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research.

An estimate of how many people watched in the entire country was due later on Monday.

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The show drew a 27.7 rating and 42 share in the big cities, Nielsen said. The comparable numbers last year were 27.1 and 40. One ratings point represents 1,114,000 households, while the share is the percentage of TV sets on last night that were tuned to the awards.

Nationally, last year's show was seen by 38.8 million viewers, only the second time in the past two decades the Oscars ceremony had dipped below 40 million.

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After Scorsese's five previous losses in category of best director, he won Sunday for mob epic "The Departed," which also won best picture.

Awards watchers had viewed Scorsese as a lock to win at last, and while he clearly coveted an Oscar, the director said he had not counted on anything.

"It was an overwhelming, overwhelming moment for me, I must say. I didn't know. When people say, `It's your year, your year.' Thank God we've been able to make so many films over the last 36 years without winning awards. But we've been able to get the pictures made," Scorsese told reporters backstage. "This comes as an extraordinary surprise."

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The relatively predictable and bland Oscar ceremony ran almost four hours under the pleasant but lightweight stewardship of first-time host Ellen DeGeneres, ending after 1 a.m. EST.

Scorsese said he had a hint that he finally had won as his longtime friends and colleagues Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, who presented the directing prize, gave him a look just before announcing his name.

"I've just been used to not winning, so I just make the movies, guys," said Scorsese, adding that he did not mind the long wait because an earlier Oscar might have changed the types of movies he was making. "I'm glad it's taken this long. It's been worth it."

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