NBC reportedly to pull plug on reality shows

NBC will reportedly pull new reality series “Final Appeal” and “What Happened?” from their regular time periods after Oct. 23–the final Friday prior to the start of the November sweeps.

The network confirmed that there were “no plans” to order additional episodes of the two reality shows, which air from 8-9 p.m., but said no decision had been made on picking up “The Round Table,” the new ensemble drama that follows them from Spelling TV.

“Appeal,” a spin-off from “Unsolved Mysteries,” comes from Cosgrove-Meurer Prods., while “Happened” is from Hearst Entertainment. The two shows were late additions to the fall lineup, inserted after CBS announced its schedule, causing NBC to delay sitcoms “Glory Boys” and “The Powers That Be” to prevent a three-network comedy logjam.

The decision is tantamount to cancellation, but NBC stopped short of saying that or revealing what will fill the void. Producers were told the shows will go on indefinite hiatus after Oct. 23, which would mark their fifth and sixth weeks on the air.

NBC may decide to use movies to fill the breach during sweeps, having performed reasonably well last year with stunt movies on Friday–including second runs of Universal theatricals that also aired Sunday of the same week. The Peacock web has a strong feature inventory, including several Universal films that bypass pay cable and go directly to the network.

The fourth component of the Friday lineup, “I’ll Fly Away,” hasn’t exactly been airborne in the ratings but will be given more time due to its critical laurels, which included 15 Emmy noms for its first season.

ABC, meanwhile, said no immediate moves were planned in terms of scheduling changes, although there’s speculation that the network may call in “Matlock” to bolster its Thursday lineup, canceling “Room for Two” and bouncing “Delta” into a new time period.

CBS, seeking to fix Saturday, has already axed “Angel Street,” and lead-off comedy “Frannie’s Turn” reportedly is on the ropes. Web is said to be trying to work out a new lineup that will keep “Brooklyn Bridge” on the air, with Lorimar’s reality show “How’d They Do That?” and sitcoms starring Dudley Moore and Shelley Long from Twentieth and TriStar TV, respectively, among back-up candidates.

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