Reality rules NBC's midseason schedule
By James Hibberd
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC announced a partial midseason schedule Tuesday that includes a heavy dose of reality and a lack of scripted dramas.
The prime-time lineup is surprising less for what's included than for what's missing: no dates for "Medium," "Kings," "Life," "Chuck" or "Heroes," and reality shows "American Gladiators" and "Deal or No Deal" are off the board -- for January at least. NBC plans to make an announcement regarding February and March at a later date.
One addition to the broadcast network's schedule is "Howie Do It," a hidden-camera show starring "Deal" host Howie Mandel that will air at 8 p.m. Fridays starting January 9.
Also on the schedule is "Superstars of Dance," a professional dancing competition series from the producers of "American Idol."
After a Sunday premiere January 4, "Superstars" will air in two-hour blocks on Monday nights, with a one-hour finale January 26. The dance reality show essentially fills the short gap before ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" returns for its second cycle; it even airs during the usual "Dancing" time period.
The "Superstars" premiere will have a lead-in from a new primetime "Saturday Night Live" special -- a sports-centric edition to take advantage of football playoffs just as the sketch comedy show's high-flying political specials capitalized on election fever. NBC plans a movie-related "SNL" special as well, on January 18.
NBC also announced that oft-rescheduled reality show "Momma's Boys" will air Monday nights, and the third season of "Friday Night Lights" will air Fridays starting January 16. The network plans a follow-up announcement within a couple of weeks with additional premiere dates and to reveal what will air after NBC's presentation of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1.
A couple of possibilities for a post-Bowl slot are the new drama "Kings" and the launch of the next season of "Heroes." NBC is concerned about falling ratings for "Heroes," and having the highest-rated event of the year lead into the series' next edition, "Fugitives," could work as a Hail Mary pass to revive the show. NBC executives are excited about "Kings" -- which stars Ian McShane in a modern-day update of the story of King David -- and see the series as the network's best chance for a breakout drama. Continued...