Kevin Reilly, president, NBC Entertainment

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AA: What's your most challenging time period?

Mr. Reilly: Thursday. Trying to maintain stability and maintaining strong ratings when more networks are programming against us. UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris" has had a lot of buzz at 8 p.m. It's a good show and I would expect it to get good sampling early on. But what we have in "Joey," and "Will and Grace," are the incumbents. One hour of "Joey" can still do 4.2 rating, that's still a number to contend with.

AA: How do you think the two "Apprentices" will do?

Mr. Reilly: "The Apprentice" last season was a mixed bag, the next round is quite strong, having seen the first "The Apprentice: Martha." We are really delivering the goods. We were excited and relieved; there will be a lot of curiosity to tune in. You are tuning in for "The Apprentice," but the tone and feel of Martha's show is very different. The way she conducts herself, she's completely involved. She's a woman in control; you understand how she became a self-made billionaire. It's an intense competition and she's directing the tasks and observing the action.

AA: What do you say to people who think it was a mistake to leave Thursday unchanged?

Mr. Reilly: We were a little bit damned if we do and damned if we don't. When you are in rebuild, stability is a good thing. When CBS was rebuilding, it left the sexiest shows alone and it proved a good move. Maybe there were a lot of shots taken at "Joey," but there is an audience for that and for "Will & Grace," which won't just dry up and go away, it will have Alec Baldwin, Harry Connick Jr. this season. "The Apprentice" wins a six rating at 9:30 p.m. and that's against CBS's "CSI." "ER" remains a phenomenon.

AA: What's your favorite cable show?

Mr. Reilly: I was an avid viewer of "Chappelle's Show," I'm completely addicted to "The Shield" and "Rescue Me" on FX [where he was formerly president-entertainment.]

AA: Best TV show of all time?

Mr. Reilly: "The Honeymooners," is where it all began, with four characters and flimsy sets. "All in the Family," "Saturday Night Live," "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

AA: What has ABC's surprise success taught you?

Mr. Reilly: Never count anybody out. Their managerial and marketing challenges were well-documented and desperation breeds inspiration. They did a number of things right. I'm not envious but give credit where it's due. I feel like the desperation that got into NBC is really healthy and the inspiration has percolated.


Ranking among 18-49 demographic 2004/2005: No. 4

Rating/Viewers/Share in 18-49: 3.5/4.59 million/9 share (Nielsen Media Reserarch)

Strengths and weaknesses: The network swapped first place for fourth place in the key advertiser demo and lost a lot of its firepower with its heartland upscale viewers. Thursday night went to CBS. "The Apprentice: Martha," will certainly give the competition a run for its money on Wednesday at 8 p.m. "Three Wishes" gets NBC into the feel-good reality realm that worked so well for ABC in "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Doug says: "Went from very high to middle of the pack and they’re still a formidable contender....for buyers, the declining ratings made NBC a better value."

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