WB Tries Out Reality Night in Schedule Shuffle
2 hours, 12 minutes ago
By Michael Schneider
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Coming off its best-ever sweeps in key demographics, the WB will juggle its schedule in an attempt to shore up weak Wednesday and Thursday performances.
"We recognize we do have still have some weak points," WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin told reporters on Monday during the network's November sweeps conference call. "Like every network, there's a night here or there that's not working."
The WB will bench struggling Thursday night sitcoms "Family Affair" and "Do Over" and retool the night as an all-reality showcase starting Jan. 9, timed to the premiere of new series "High School Reunion."
"High School Reunion" will debut in its main time slot on Sunday, Jan. 5, at 9 p.m. But the WB will also immediately repeat those episodes of the reality show, on Thursdays at 8 p.m.
So-called multiplay scheduling is nothing new, but "High School Reunion" could very well be the first primetime series to launch with a second run permanently scheduled in the same week. (Shows like Fox's "24" have done so on a temporary basis.)
"We've always benefited from a multiplex or multiplay strategy," Levin said. "On the reality side, the upside is you can amortize your costs (because it's) harder to repeat once the event has been seen. It allows us to make a little more noise."
Also Thursdays, "Surreal Life"
-- the "Real World"-meets-D-level-celebs series starring folks like Emmanuel Lewis and M.C. Hammer -- will premiere with a one-hour episode Jan. 9. Show settles into the post-"Jamie Kennedy Experiment" slot the following week.
"We thought an all-reality Thursday night would be a more cohesive strategy and profile for the night," Levin said.
That strategy promises to be short-lived, however, as Levin said the WB will likely go back to scripted fare on Thursdays after "High School Reunion" and "Surreal Life" complete their runs.
Meanwhile, making room for "High School Reunion's" Sunday night slot, demon drama "Angel" will move to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. in the slot vacated by recently departed "Birds of Prey." Levin blamed the demise of "Birds of Prey" on the show's poor execution.
"We believe 'Birds' proved that there was a fantasy audience and a male audience there," Levin said. "Over the course of 'Birds" run that audience eroded, but those audiences came at first. 'Birds' was not moving in the right way creatively and it didn't have the auspices (to continue)."
As for "Family Affair" and "Do Over," now that the WB has reduced those shows' orders to just 15 episodes, Levin said the network will take time to relaunch them in a different slot later in the spring.
The WB is also still mulling over where to put recently acquired comedy "Grounded for Life," which the network won't be able to launch until after February sweeps.
Also waiting in the wings: the actioner "Black Sash," a potential candidate for Sundays at 9 p.m. once "High School Reunion" completes its six-episode run; the comedy "The O'Keefes"; and improv series "On the Spot."
Levin also said the WB had ordered two additional episodes each of "Jamie Kennedy Experiment" and "Reba," the network's highest-rated comedy. That brings the full season orders for both shows to 24 each.