November 26, 2008 / 5:06 AM / 10 years ago

Reality rules NBC's midseason schedule

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC announced a partial midseason schedule Tuesday that includes a heavy dose of reality and a lack of scripted dramas.

Host of the NBC game show "Deal or No Deal" Howie Mandel speaks to television critics at the NBC Universal Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

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.

An alternate possibility for post-Bowl programing is a comedy block, such as “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Kath and Kim.”

NBC is staying quiet on whether “American Gladiators,” which launched in January 2008, will return in the spring, summer or at all. “Deal or No Deal” is being put on a rare in-season hiatus, possibly because of the addition of “Howie Do It.” The network’s Amy Poehler comedy also is not yet scheduled.

“Deal” originally was planned for 9 p.m. Wednesdays, but NBC will air repeats of “Law & Order: SVU” instead, at least until the Damian Lewis-starring cop drama “Life” returns. “Deal” also would conflict with the “crime block” brand NBC is trying to build on that night.

That a major broadcast network would air a repeat during such a significant time period also speaks to the Peacock’s struggle to launch new content this fall. Along with “SVU” repeats on Saturdays, the current January schedule has “SVU” airing for three hours during the week.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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