TOP NETWORK TO DEBUT FEW NEW SHOWS FOR FALL

NBC Cites 'Very Few Holes' on TV Schedule

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The top network on TV is taking a conservative approach with its upcoming fall schedule while saying today it expects to easily win the current season by an "amazing margin."

General Electric Co.'s NBC will launch only three new comedies and two dramas for its 2002-03 fall broadcast schedule.

"We have the luxury of very few holes on our schedule," Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, said.

Rare trouble spot
One of NBC's few troubled spots include Tuesdays. At 8 p.m., the network will bring in In-Laws, starring Dennis Farina and Jean Smart, a domestic comedy from the producers of Frasier. Another new Tuesday show, at 9:30 p.m., is Hidden Hills, about harried suburban families.

While looking ahead

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to next season, the network said it will easily win this current season in a coveted demographic, adults 18 to 49.

"We anticipate we'll win this season by 33%," said NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa. "It's an amazing margin. We are the only network up year to year. If you take the Olympics out, we are [still] up 4% in regular programming."

What made the network so formidable this year was a strong Thursday lineup, which the network looks to bolster by adding its half-hour rookie hit Scrubs in the 8:30 p.m. time slot. This is a change of strategy for NBC, which typically puts in new shows in this time period.

"To put a brand-new show there is not fair for the show," Mr. Zucker said, because the slot follows the immensely popular Friends. That positioning "comes with incredible pressure," he added. "We wanted [Scrubs] to establish itself."

Also on Thursday, NBC introduces Good Morning Miami at 9:30 p.m., a comedy about a talented young TV producer who arrives in Miami to revamp the lowest-rated morning show in the country. Just Shoot Me will move to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

New dramas
New dramas include American Dreams, set against the backdrop of 1960s Philadelphia when American Bandstand was at the height of pop culture. It will air on 8 p.m. Sundays, which will also see the 10 p.m. debut of Boomtown, a crime drama about Los Angeles cops, paramedics, beat reporters and city officials.

Watching Ellie, a comedy starring Julia Louis Dreyfus, which had been tentatively canceled, will come back as a mid-season replacement. Joining it in the mid-season is Kingpin, a drama about a family-run Mexican drug cartel; Mister Sterling, starring Josh Brolin as an U.S. senator, and It's Not About Me, featuring Jason Bateman as a lawyer who becomes a teacher.

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