NBC completely blew up the fall schedule it announced May 15 at its upfront in New York, making changes on all five weeknights including the move of its prize rookie Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to Monday at 10. Among the other notable moves were the relocation of Law & Order to Friday nights at 10 and the replacement of Studio 60 with Deal or No Deal Thursdays at 9.
In all, the network made scheduling changes to eight of the 15 primetime weeknight hours. NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said publicly when he announced the initial schedule he wouldn’t be afraid to tweak the schedule, but even he admitted the sheer amount of moves was eye-catching.
He said the comprehensive re-tooling resulted from a combination of his network’s fourth-place status and the fact they announced their schedule before any of the competition.
"We went first and we’re in fourth," he says. "Unusual circumstances lead to these kinds of measures."
The moves also uncoiled the strategy of launching a spine of new shows Monday-Thursday at 9.
"I liked the ‘spine at nine’ play, but it wasn’t viable once we saw the other schedules," Reilly says.
Speculation had always circled around Studio 60, the Aaron Sorkin-penned drama that found itself matched up against CSI and the relocated Grey’s Anatomy Thursdays at 9.
NBC’s decision to move the show to Mondays at 10 set off a domino effect that leaves the network with a new look.
On Mondays, Studio 60 replaces Medium, which will now return in midseason on Sundays at 10. That spot was to be held by Raines, which means the Jeff Goldblum drama does not have a place on the schedule as of now.
Many industry insiders had expected ABC to move Grey’s to Mondays.
"I think our competitors have left the door open on Monday," Reilly says.
Tuesdays, NBC brought in Law & Order: Criminal Intent at 9, which will serve as a lead-in to Law & Order: SVU which follows at 10.
Reilly says the Tuesday move was in part due to his false belief that Fox would shift House from 9 to 8, which he claims Fox didn’t do because it couldn’t find anything to launch behind it.
Wednesdays were totally revamped, and will now lead off with the new comedy block of Twenty Good Years and 30 Rock, followed by The Biggest Loser and rookie drama Kidnapped.
The straight swap of Deal for Studio 60 Thursdays at 9 came after Reilly considered other options, including moving The Apprentice up to a fall return, or bringing in another hour of comedy that could have included Scrubs.
"In a perfect world, I’d like to go with a four-comedy block," he says. "But you have to be realistic about it."
On Fridays, Crossing Jordan pushed up its return to the fall to lead off the night in place of Deal. Las Vegas follows at 9, leading in to the mother ship of the Law & Order franchise.
Reilly said the network chose "a strategy of established shows with loyal audiences" for Friday night. But many, apparently including L&O creator Dick Wolf, are not bullish on Friday nights in general.
Reilly said he first informed Wolf of the moves on Wednesday morning.
"Let’s just say I didn’t need my coffee [Wednesday] morning," he said about his chat with Wolf. "But we’re good to go today."
The full fall NBC lineup is below:
8-9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. "HEROES"
10-11 p.m. "STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP" (new day and time)
8-9 p.m. "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS"
9-10 p.m. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (new day and time)
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
8-8:30 p.m. "20 GOOD YEARS" (new time)
8:30-9 p.m. "30 ROCK" (new time)
9-10 p.m. "The Biggest Loser" (new time);
10-11 p.m. "KIDNAPPED" (new day and time)
8-8:30 p.m. "My Name Is Earl"
8:30-9 p.m. "The Office"
9-10 p.m. "Deal or No Deal" (new day and time)
10-11 p.m. "ER"/("THE BLACK DONNELLYS" in January 2007)
8-9 p.m. "Crossing Jordan" (new day and time)
9-10 p.m. "Las Vegas"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order" (new day)
8-9 p.m. "Dateline Saturday"
9-11 p.m. Drama Series Encores
7-8 p.m. "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA"
8-11 p.m. "SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL"