Silverman Considers Ordering More 'Gladiators'

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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NBC Universal Entertainment Co-Chair Ben Silverman wants to order more "American Gladiators."

"We're going to figure out the smartest way to market, schedule and promote them," Silverman says. "The whole group will discuss it. We don't want to order 60 of them. Another thought is this summer we got 'America's Got Talent,' 'American Gladiators' and the Olympics, so we're going to be celebrating our Americana all summer."

Nothing is final, but Silverman's intention to order more episodes is hardly a surprise given "Gladiators'" whopping Sunday-night premiere rating and last night's debut performance in its regular time period.

Silverman is especially heartened that the show held its own against college football on Fox. "It feels optimistic that there's nothing really that can be programmed against it," he says.

The executive also is plotting a special two-hour "Gladiators" finale to lead into the premiere of NBC's "Knight Rider" remake on Sunday, Feb. 17. He predicts the evening could be NBC's biggest night of the season.

"I can't tell you [what we're doing for the finale]," he says. "If I did, Wolf and Hulk would show up at your door."

The next round of "Gladiators" will include a greater variety of games for contestants to compete in, among other fine-tuning format tweaks, he says.

NBC has enjoyed a series of reality series ratings victories since the start of the new year. By adding celebrities to "The Apprentice" and couples to "The Biggest Loser," the veteran shows have garnered strong openings.

NBC's press headlines, however, have been dominated by the writers strike shutting down the network's presentation of the Golden Globe Awards.

"So disappointed," says Silverman, who's a nominee this year for Showtime's "The Tudors." "I just can't understand saying you have an interim agreement with one company but not accepting one with another company on the same exact terms. That whole thing feels disheartening."

UPDATE: NBC plans to shortly announce it will offer its owned and affiliated stations a second run of the first three episodes of "American Gladiators" during non-prime-time hours on the weekends of Jan. 19-20, Jan. 26-27 and Feb. 2-3.

The move is particularly apt for "Gladiators," as the show ran in syndication for years during its original incarnation.

"We're extremely excited by the response to 'American Gladiators,'" said John Wallace, president of the NBC local media division. "By adding the show to our weekend afternoon lineup, we can expose the program to a new audience and benefit from the local ad opportunities. It's a win-win for all involved."
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