ABC, WB networks present new schedules

Portions of this article have already appeared on the site, but Mr. Manager found the original from the AP!

ABC, WB networks present new schedules
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — When will Regis Philbin ever sleep? The man who lifted ABC from third to first this television season will add another night of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to his schedule in the fall.

ABC already broadcasts the game show sensation on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Next fall it will add a Wednesday edition, the network announced Tuesday.

With four prime-time hours of Philbin, ABC is adding only four new series in the fall. The network canceled the critically acclaimed “Sports Night” and trimmed its newsmagazine schedule from four nights to three.

Meanwhile, the youth-oriented WB network hopes to recover some of its sizzle with a fall schedule that includes two nights of comedies, including a parody of the teen angst dramas it has lived on the last few years.

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” has been a ratings juggernaut since its premiere last August. The quiz has astounded TV executives with its staying power, even though its viewership faded somewhat last week with tough May “sweeps” competition.

Heading into the week all television networks announce their fall schedules, guessing what ABC would do with “Millionaire” had become a parlor game for rival executives: Would the network cut back on its weekly showings to avoid saturating the market, or would it try to ride the craze even harder?

In the end, ABC heeded the siren call of cash: industry analysts have estimated the show will earn between $400 million to $600 million in profits next year.

ABC is adding “Geena,” a comedy starring Geena Davis as a career woman thrust into the role of mom by marrying a widower; a medical drama with former “Homicide” star Andre Braugher; and a comedy with Gabriel Byrne.

A year after giving all of its newsmagazines the “20/20” name, ABC said it will use three different names for its news shows in the fall: “Downtown” on Mondays, “Primetime Thursday” and “20/20” on Friday. Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson are hosts of Thursday’s show, and Barbara Walters is host on Friday.

Like this past season, ABC is starting the drama “Once and Again” on Tuesdays, then moving it to Mondays after the football season so “NYPD Blue” can make a late-season debut in its Tuesday slot.

After several years, ABC is abandoning its “TGIF” schedule of teen-oriented shows on Friday, replacing them with adult fare. The WB is reaching for that mantle, and picked up ABC’s most popular Friday show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” to air in the same 8 p.m. time slot.

The WB’s young comedies on Friday include “Grosse Pointe,” which spoofs the behind-the-scenes lives of actors starring in a teen drama.

The network, whose ratings sagged this year, scheduled six comedies on Sunday nights. It picked up the animated show “The PJs” from Fox and moved “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “The Steve Harvey Show” and “For Your Love” to Sundays.

It is introducing a unique time-share arrangement for “Felicity” and “Jack and Jill” on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Since both dramas lose a large part of their audience for repeats, the WB will air only originals, with “Felicity” in the fall and “Jack and Jill” in the winter.

Jordan Levin, executive vice president of programming, said write-in campaigns helped save shows that were in trouble, including “Felicity,” “Popular” and “Roswell.” “Roswell” fans sent 6,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to WB executives.

“My chili has never tasted better,” he said.


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