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NBC may engage ‘Mason’ for Friday

After performing well with an aging lawyer named Matlock last year, NBC may call upon another veteran barrister to try and fix its struggling Friday lineup–this time by assigning the case to Perry Mason.

NBC reportedly has scheduled an original two-hour “Perry Mason” movie for 8 p.m. on Oct. 30–the first Friday of the November sweeps–and may run repeat “Mason” telefilms in that slot for the next eight weeks, carrying through the end of the calendar year.

The Peacock network has a hole to fill there, having already said that it won’t order additional episodes of reality series “Final Appeal” and “What Happened?” with plans to give those shows and new drama “The Round Table” a rest after Oct. 23 (Daily Variety, Oct. 9).

Like “Matlock,” which has since moved to ABC as a backup series, “Perry Mason” comes from producers Fred Silverman and Dean Hargrove in association with Viacom Prods. The movies appeal to the same older-skewing audience as “Matlock” and would likely provide a better lead-in in terms of household ratings to NBC’s struggling 10 p.m. drama “I’ll Fly Away.”

NBC officials were out due to the Columbus Day holiday and couldn’t be reached but had indicated that they would make an announcement this week regarding changes in the Friday lineup.

The web’s options are limited by ABC’s continuing “TGIF” comedy lineup and CBS’ early success with its Friday sitcom block.

NBC used a similar approach last season, bringing in “Matlock” Fridays in mid-October after striking out with news programming in the 8 o’clock hour.

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