Midseason maneuvers

Networks prune schedules: NBC axes 'Michael Richards'; Fox closes 'The $treet'; UPN kills 'Freedom'

Nearly every network killed off a new show and/or ordered something new, as midseason lineups started to take shape.

Perhaps most significant, ABC made its first schedule change with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
-taking it off Tuesday nights and moving it to 8 p.m. ET on Fridays. In Millionaire's former Tuesday slot will be new reality series Who is the Mole?

NBC pulled The Michael Richards Show
and Titans, ABC yanked Gabriel Byrne's new comedy Madigan Men, Fox said goodbye to The $treet
and UPN gave Freedom
a quick death. On the positive front, NBC ordered four more episodes of new sitcom DAG,
called up midseason comedy Three Sisters
and shuffled its Tuesday-night lineup-putting veteran series 3rd Rock From the Sun
into the lead 8 p.m. slot.

"Everyone had to give their midseason programming orders to producers, and it turned out to be quite a week," said one network executive. "I'm sure it will continue for the rest of the month."

Three Sisters
is from Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline (Ellen,Roseanne
and Murphy Brown). It's a comedy about a family of grown-ups. Dyan Cannon is one of eight regular cast members.

ABC debuts Who Is The Mole?
on Tuesday Jan. 9. The reality/adventure series follows 10 real-life players trying to detect a mole amongst them. The last player standing after nine weeks wins $1 million. The series took contestants to two continents, four countries and 34 cities.

After killing off its teen-skewing TGIF franchise last season, ABC learned that adult comedies couldn't do the trick without some help. Enter Millionaire.
The ratings magnet makes its move on Friday, Jan. 5, replacing Two Guys and a Girl
and Madigan Men. Two Guys
moves up to 9 p.m. and Norm
moves to 9:30. ABC execs say Madigan Men
is only on hiatus; industry sources say it's dead.

As expected, Fox executives canned the pricey Wall Street drama The $treet
(after Dec. 13), after only six episodes. The series, from Michael Ovitz' ATG studio, was averaging 5.1 million viewers and a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49. No replacement was named; expect a reality entrant.

UPN dumped its new Friday action series Freedom
(after Dec. 29) after six weeks on the air. The Warner Bros. series averaged a lowly 1.1 national Nielsen rating and 2.6 million viewers.


B&C's Midseason Grid

A comprehensive look at the broadcast network's midseason schedules. Check out what's on tonight. (Pictured: ABC's 'True Beauty', left, and NBC's 'Superstars of Dance', right.)

Brand-X sweeps

The major broadcast networks say it will be business as usual—well, as usual as the networks can ever be—in November