Maybe Winter Will Be Better - Broadcasting & Cable

Maybe Winter Will Be Better

Networks hope midseason add-ons generate some heat after lackluster fall
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The broadcast networks are hoping winter proves hotter after a lackluster premiere season. ABC, CBS and Fox all have saved some of their biggest events for midseason.

On Fox, American Idol
comes back for round three with a two-hour premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 8-10 p.m. ET, followed by a one-hour episode on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m.

The show's regular schedule will again be Tuesdays at 8 p.m., leading into 24, and Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., leading into The O.C., which could provide a ratings boost for both dramas.

CBS will premiere Survivor: All Stars, featuring 18 of the show's "most memorable, entertaining and controversial castaways," in the enviable post-Super Bowl time slot. When the network launched the second edition of Survivor: The Australian Outback
after Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001, it was the second-highest-rated and most-watched post-Super Bowl program since 1987.

Midseason is coming a little early to ABC, which will pull new episodes of NYPD Blue
after the November sweeps and air Line of Fire
on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. instead. The network has a lot of confidence in the series about a team of FBI agents and the underworld criminals they chase. The show was written and executive-produced by Rod Lurie, who produced Oscar-nominated feature film The Contender. Original episodes of NYPD Blue
will return to ABC in time for February sweeps.

With Karen Sisco
going on hiatus, ABC has made some scheduling changes on Wednesday nights as well. It will fill the Wednesday 10 p.m. time slot with Celebrity MoleYucatan
and precede it with the second go-round of The Bachelorette. Last year's version starred Trista Rehn, who in early December will prolong her reality-TV career by marrying the man she chose, Colorado firefighter Ryan Sutter.

Once The Bachelorette
and Celebrity Mole
complete their runs, Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital
will launch March 3 with a two-hour premiere. All 15 hours of the show have been completed.

ABC plans to relaunch Karen Sisco, which was critically acclaimed but struggled against NBC's Law & Order, in another time slot.

NBC hasn't announced any big events for midseason but will roll out the second season of unscripted drama The Restaurant
next year; production begins today. The second season will take place in the same Manhattan restaurant, featuring celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and a mix of new and old staffers.

NBC also is casting The Office, an import of the BBC comedy by the same name. Production company Reveille plans to shoot the pilot in February, with hopes that the show will be ready to air in late spring or early summer, if not as part of NBC's '04 fall season.

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