ABC TO ROLL OUT 5 NEW SHOWS, SCALES BACK MILLIONAIRE

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(May 15, 2001) -- For this upfront programming season, ABC Television Network is finally addressing some of its older-skewing programming concerns that have alarmed advertisers in recent months.

As expected, the network announced today that it has cut back on the four-times-a-week game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to twice a week -- Mondays and Thursdays at 9 p.m. Advertisers have complained that while the show still does good numbers, the audience has been getting decidedly older.

But unexpectedly ABC is also shifting its high-profile -- and also older-skewing -- 20/20 newsmagazine to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. from the start of the season through November. Then, in December, the show will move back to its regular time slot at 10 p.m. Friday.

All this is to accommodate the slow-growing, weakly rated family drama Once & Again, which will move to Fridays at 10 p.m. for the first three months of the season. The show will be pushed back to 9 p.m. when 20/20 returns in December.

ABC also announced five new series -- two comedies and three dramas. One of its big efforts is with former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander, who will star as a motivational speaker in Bob Patterson, to air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Philly is a legal drama from producer Steven Bochco, starring ex-NYPD alum Kim Delaney as a defense attorney, airing on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

The network is adding another family sitcom to its Wednesday lineup, My Dad, starring Jim Belushi, at 8:30 p.m. Fridays will see a new drama with John Stamos, Thieves, sort of a new take on It Takes a Thief and Moonlighting. Replacing Millionaire on Sundays is Alias, about a grad student who has a double life as a CIA agent. -- Wayne Friedman

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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