NBC, like Fox, is aggressively programming this summer, with plans for more than half its summer schedule to be originals. Six of them will be reality shows. "We are serving notice with this move that NBC intends to compete 12 months a year," said NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker. "In addition, we want the majority of our programs to offer something new to viewers who are accustomed to looking elsewhere for entertainment when the days grow longer."
Other networks may have been served, but, so far, only Fox is taking up the challenge. But Fox learned the value of summer last year when American Idol stacked up Nielsen ratings against repeats on other networks.
Six by July 4
This summer, prior to the Fourth of July, NBC will air six reality programs, three of them new and three returning.
The new shows are Fame, which features choreographer Debbie Allen's search for new talent; For Love or Money, in which 15 women compete for a bachelor's heart, each one knowing that she will win $1 million if he chooses her; and Jay Mohr's Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America, in which a panel of judges narrows a group of comedians to 10 finalists who live in a house together while they compete for an NBC talent contract.
Fame premieres Wednesday, May 28 with a two-hour special; For Love or Money, with a two-hour special on Monday, June 2; and Last Comic Standing, on Tuesday, June 10.
Returning are Dog Eat Dog, a stunt-filled game show; Meet My Folks; and Crime & Punishment, a legal documentary from Law & Order
creator Dick Wolf. Dog Eat Dog
returns Tuesday, May 27 with back-to-back episodes. Crime & Punishment
starts back up on Sunday, June 1, and Meet My Folks, which had a three-episode run in March, returns Monday, June 9.
Reality and specials will dominate Fox's prime time this summer, although the network also plans to launch some scripted series during the warm months. Reality show Anything for Love, featuring people doing crazy things to win the partner of their choice,
debuts June 16, leading into Paradise Hotel, which started casting on April 25. American Juniors
, a kiddie spin-off of American Idol, premieres on May 27. It will lead into new drama Keen Eddie, which premieres June 3.
Thursday nights on Fox will feature Stupid Behavior Caught on Tape, starting May 29. That will be followed by wacky talent show 30 Seconds to Fame. News magazine The Pulse
also will air on Thursdays.
The other broadcast nets also have some reality and specials planned for summer but aren't programming originals as aggressively as NBC and Fox.
Amazing Race again
CBS will air three reality shows this summer. Amazing Race 4
debuts May 29. Big Brother 4
starts later in the summer. Cupid, from American Idol's Simon Cowell, in which a woman looks for her true love (and $1 million) with the help of two friends, starts production May 19 and will be broadcast this summer.
ABC's summer schedule is still in flux, but reality show The Family restarts its run in June, and Roseanne's unscripted show begins in late July or August. ABC will burn off unaired originals of The Drew Carey Show, which technically has been renewed but has been a ratings liability all year.
The WB has plans for several shows in place, including surfer show Boarding House: North Shore, starting June 18. The net also is trying to launch sitcom The O'Keefes
starting May 22. Two Pepsi-sponsored shows remain without a premiere date: Pepsi Smash will come on around midsummer, and Play for a Billion, hosted by Drew Carey, will appear in early fall before the official start of the TV season.
At UPN, America's Top Model starts May 20 and runs through July 8; WWE Smackdown! stays in originals 52 weeks a year.
Cable networks HBO, Lifetime, USA and ESPN will use the reality-filled summer months to launch a load of scripted series.