NBC Has Fix-Up Plans

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NBC, which has fallen behind CBS among viewers 18-49 this season, is looking to 10 new shows to bolster ratings when it rejiggers its lineup in January and March.

The network’s Entertainment President Kevin Reilly says he’s placed as much emphasis on programs slated for rollout in early 2005 as the ones introduced in September. His pipeline includes five reality shows and five scripted programs. “These shows in any other year would have been on the fall schedule,” he said. He made the comments while appearing with his counterparts from the other five broadcast networks at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society lunch on Thursday.

Otherwise, the most talked-about show was Desperate Housewives, which along with Lost is helping to revive ABC’s prime time ratings. “We look upon ourselves as the underdogs,” said ABC Primetime Entertainment President Stephen McPherson, in what might be the understatement of the season so far.

One topic of agreement was the sad state of sit-coms. Too many derivative shows, such as the slew of Friends copycats, have turned viewers off to the genre. Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said she’s betting that her networks critically-praised Arrested Development will start to garner better ratings. But that’s not a slam-dunk. “It’s a sophisticated comedy,” she told the crowd. “It requires a certain change in the viewing habits of the audience.”

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