Upfronts 2009: NBC Unveils "Shared" Schedule for 2009-10

Chuck, Law & Order renewed in shared time-period strategy built around February Olympics coverage
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Upfronts 2009: Complete Coverage from B&C

NBC executives rolled out a "shared" programming strategy, with fall and spring seasons separated by the 2010 Winter Olympics, that allows them to keep reruns to a minimum.

Heroes will run at 8 p.m. on Mondays in the fall with dramedy Chuck taking over the time period post-Olympics. New series Trauma, a high-explosive-quotient drama about first responders, will be in the Monday 9 p.m. slot this fall with doomsday drama Day One airing there in the spring. On Tuesdays, The Biggest Loser with stay super-sized at two-hours this fall and then downsize to 90 minutes after the Olympics, making room for the new comedy 100 Questions at 9:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, Ron Howard's Parenthood will get the 8 p.m. leadoff slot this fall with hospital drama Mercy assuming the time period after the Olympics.

Thursday night will kick off with Saturday Night Live Weekend Update at 8 p.m. NBC has confirmed at least a six-episode run of the live comedy. Parks and Recreation, The Office and new comedy Community will round out the night. After Update completes its run, Community will move to 8 p.m., making room for 30 Rock at 9:30 p.m.

My Name Is Earl has been cancelled. The comedy was a reliable performer for its first few years on the schedule but showed a precipitous ratings decline in the 8 p.m. slot this season.

The show, which is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, was said to be among a crop of veteran series that were hung up in sticky negotiations over costs including steep license fees. Ben Silverman, co-chair of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, denied that cost was a factor in cancelling Earl.

"The real factor was the abundance of development and programming that we had in- house," said Silverman, adding that Community and an expanded episode order for Weekend Update "really left us with not even a place to put Earl."

Chuck was also on the bubble but the show's association with Subway sandwich shops, and its fans' passionate Subway-infused campaign, helped to save it. The fact that Subway has also committed to more advertising time during the television broadcast of Chuck as well as on NBCU digital platforms was also key.

"We're building relationships between our great creative and our great advertiser to deliver more for the audience and return shows like Chuck," said Silverman.

Also getting a pickup was Law & Order, which will air in the leadoff spot at 8 p.m. on Friday followed by Southland. The John Wells drama has struggled somewhat on Thursday nights this spring. And while Friday night's low viewership levels may not appear to be an enviable time period, Silverman countered that the Law& Order/Southland combo will give the network "a strong and clear alternative to the more female skewing shows on the other networks as well as a clear crime block that is easily promotable."

Of course, the network is positioning Jay Leno's primetime comedy hour as its most prominent swath of alternative programming. Asked for his reaction to ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson's assertion on Tuesday that ABC and CBS would benefit from NBC's Leno gambit, Silverman responded: "This is the only topical show. It's the only DVR-proof show. We're going to deliver originals all year long. We love the comedy alternative. We love topical. We love Jay today even more than when we made this decision."

Below are NBC's fall and midseason schedules:

MONDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Heroes"
9-10 p.m.-"TRAUMA"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

TUESDAY
8-10 p.m. - "The Biggest Loser" (two-hour edition)
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. - "PARENTHOOD"
9-10 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

THURSDAY
8- 8:30 p.m. - "SNL WEEKEND UPDATE THURSDAY" (multi-episode run)
8:30-9 p.m. - "Parks and Recreation"
9- 9:30 p.m. - "The Office"
9:30-10 p.m. - "COMMUNITY" (moves to Thursdays 8-8:30 p.m. after multi-episode run "30 Rock" returns)
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Law & Order"
9-10 p.m. - "Southland"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

SATURDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
9-10 p.m. - "TRAUMA" (encore broadcast)
10-11 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (encore broadcast)

SUNDAY
7- 8:20 p.m. "Football Night in America"
8:20-11 p.m. "NBC Sunday Night Football"

NBC MID-SEASON 2010 SCHEDULE
(2010 WINTER OLYMPICS preempt regularly scheduled programming from February 12-28, 2010)

*New programs in UPPER CASE

MONDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Chuck" (season premiere)
9-10 p.m.-"DAY ONE"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

TUESDAY
8-9:30 p.m. - "The Biggest Loser" (90-minute edition)
9:30-10 p.m. - "100 QUESTIONS"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

WEDNESDAY
8-9 p.m. - "MERCY"
9-10 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

THURSDAY
8- 8:30 p.m. - "COMMUNITY"
8:30-9 p.m. - "Parks and Recreation"
9- 9:30 p.m. - "The Office"
9:30-10 p.m. - "30 Rock"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

FRIDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Law & Order"
9-10 p.m. - "Southland"
10-11 p.m. - "THE JAY LENO SHOW"

SATURDAY
8-9 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
9-10 p.m. - "Southland" (encore broadcast)
10-11 p.m. - "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (encore broadcast)

SUNDAY
7-8 p.m. - "Dateline NBC"
8-9 p.m. - THE MARRIAGE REF
9-11 p.m. - "The Celebrity Apprentice" (season premiere; two-hour edition)

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