Friday, May 18, 2012

ABC loads up on nighttime soaps; renews Van Der Beek sitcom

 LOS ANGELES (wire report) — ABC is doubling down on nighttime soaps in its bid to get out of third place.
The network of "Revenge" and "Scandal" announced that it will add new shows such as "666 Park Avenue," about the machinations at an upscale and possibly haunted New York apartment building, and "Nashville," centering on the scheming among country-music stars and Nashville politicians.
Starring Rachael Taylor, "666" will premiere on Sunday nights at 10 p.m., following "Revenge," which is moving from Wednesdays to a coveted Sunday slot in an effort to build an evening of soapy drama on the competitive night.
"Sunday night will be a battle between good and evil from 8 all the way to 11," Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment, told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday, alluding also to the first show of that bloc, the fairy-tale-themed "Once Upon a Time." "Nashville" will air in "Revenge’s" old slot on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
It will debut its more male-oriented new hourlong drama, Shawn Ryan’s military-themed "Last Resort," earlier in the evening at 8 p.m.
Overall, the network, which this season will finish ahead of only NBC in the ratings race among the four major networks, picked up 10 new shows, including a host of new comedies.
Among them is "Neighbors," a show from "Crazy, Stupid, Love" screenwriter Dan Fogelman about what happens when a couple moves into a new home and realizes some of the other homeowners are aliens; the series will air in the prized slot behind network powerhouse "Modern Family" at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
ABC has also signed up midseason comedies such as the Brad Garrett-starring "How to Live With Your Parents (for the rest of your life)" and the Mark Gordon-produced "The Family Tools."
The Disney-owned network is also shifting around existing comedies. It’s moving "Happy Endings" out of its Wednesday 9:30 p.m. slot in the hope it can kick off a one-two punch of comedy on Tuesday, when it will air at 9 p.m., followed by this year’s freshman series "Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23," which stars Cheshire-raised James Van Der Beek in a role he clearly enjoys.
Though those comedies might seem like an odd fit with "Private Practice" at 10 p.m., Lee said that the social media component will help drive viewership. "The (’Endings’ and ’Trust’) light up the Twitter feeds and Facebook every time they go on...(so) it’s a great lead-in for the upscale ’Private Practice,’" he said.
Finally, the network hopes that Friday night can become a destination for a particular kind of comedy once again, and is moving Tim Allen’s "Last Man Standing" to that night when it premieres in November, and putting the new Reba McEntire-Lily Tomlin country-music comedy "Malibu Country" behind it.
"It’s time for Friday night to be a destination again for broad family entertainment," Lee said, referring to the network’s ’90s-era period of "Family Matters" and its successful T.G.I.F programming bloc.
Lee also announced that "Dancing With the Stars" will inaugurate an all-star show that will bring back past favorite contestants, but declined to identify them at this point.
ABC has been facing added heat from NBC, whose ratings have picked up in the past year.
Lee downplayed the question of NBC heat. "All ships should rise ... I think that’s good for broadcast," then added that, "When you take sports out of it we’re a very strong third behind CBS and Fox," he said, "and we’re going to continue to press."

CBS shuffles slots; Moonves fires back at Kimmel

NEW YORK (AP) — Dominant CBS shuffled its schedule for the fall on Wednesday, giving Ashton Kutcher and Simon Baker new nights and adding four new series.
“Two and a Half Men,” where Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen as star this season, is moving from Monday to Thursday. It will be paired with “The Big Bang Theory” in what CBS hopes is a “super comedy block.”
“The Mentalist,” where Baker plays a brainy crime-solver, shifts from Thursday to Sundays.
Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis will star in a new drama about Las Vegas that premieres in the fall, and CBS is transplanting Sherlock Holmes to Manhattan. The series “CSI: Miami,” “Unforgettable” and “Rob” drew cancellation notices.
“We had just one goal, and that is to continue making hit shows,” said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler.
The changes amount to shuffling chairs on a smooth-sailing cruise ship for CBS, which will win the ratings race again this season, this time by the largest margin between a first and second place network in 23 years.
Such strength earned ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel a powerful new critic Wednesday morning. During ABC’s presentation to advertisers on Tuesday, Kimmel made jokes at the expense of a sore spot for CBS — its relatively old audience compared to its rivals. Joked Kimmel: “They really do have their finger on the pulse of Americans with almost no pulse.”
But CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves took exception Wednesday, noting that CBS beats ABC among the youthful 18-to-49-year-old demographic many advertisers seek.
“He should freshen up his material,” Moonves growled.
CBS moved “Two and a Half Men” in part to give “2 Broke Girls” its showcase 9 p.m. time slot on Mondays. A new comedy, “Partners,” will join Monday’s schedule. It is based on the lives of creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, whose “bromance” is threatened when one of them gets engaged.
CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said it was a “jump ball” between “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York” over which would get cancelled. The network decided to keep the newer New York spinoff on Friday nights.
On Tuesday nights, CBS will add “Vegas,” where Chiklis plays a Chicago gangster who moves to Las Vegas in the 1960s to create mischief, and Quaid is the detective who tries to keep the peace.
“Elementary” adds to CBS’ stockpile of crime dramas, with Jonny Lee Miller playing Holmes and Lucy Liu his assistant Watson. The network’s other new drama, “Made in Jersey,” is about a working class woman who tries to compete with better educated colleagues at a law firm.

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