NBC stocks up on winter spex

NBC has set dates for longform programming and specials through the February sweeps, including a first-ever prime time berth for the NBA All-Star Game and the four-hour miniseries “The Ninja Murders.”

The lineup also will feature a Feb. 28 two-hour premiere (in the Sunday movie slot) for the high-ticket Columbia Pictures TV pilot “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” a holdover from last season’s development slate that remains a series candidate for next year.

It will face the just-scheduled CBS western “Rio Diablo,” starring Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt and Naomi Judd.

The All-Star Game, previously a Sunday afternoon affair, will now air from 3- 6 p.m. PT on Feb. 21, followed by a “Saturday Night Live: 17 Years of Music” special.

The network has done well with basketball since moving all of the NBA Finals into prime time and will also air a prime time game on Christmas.

The Peacock web scored an 18.4 rating, 27 share with its last prime time “SNL” special during the November sweeps and has slotted two other specials in what’s traditionally its movie slot the preceding Sundays–the “Laugh-In” 25th anniversary spec on Feb. 7 and the memoir “Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie” on Feb. 14.

NBC will air a repeat “Perry Mason” movie from 8-10 p.m. on Feb. 5 but will have all-original fare on the remaining Fridays of sweeps, including the two-hour documentary “Mike Tyson: Fallen Champ” Feb. 12, a “Mason” vidpic Feb. 19 and a special prime time “Days of Our Lives” and the Soap Opera Digest Awards Feb. 26.

“The Ninja Murders” air March 1-2, a Monday and Tuesday, while sweeps telefilms are “Danielle Steel’s Heartbeat” (Feb. 8), “Darkness Before Dawn” (Feb. 15) and “Miracle on I-880” (Feb. 22).

NBC has said it will try to improve its fortunes with specials and longform programming through the balance of the season and particularly during sweeps after a distant third-place finish in November.

The web also hopes to get a boost leading into sweeps from Super Bowl XXVII on Jan. 31, which will begin at 3 p.m. PT and be followed by the premiere of the new Barry Levinson drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Other January longform and special fare includes the features “Pure Luck” (Jan. 4) and “Revolver” (Jan. 8); and the made-for-TV movies “Elvis & The Colonel: The Untold Story” (Jan. 10), “Mood Indigo” (Jan. 11), “Marked for Murder” (Jan. 17), “Desperate Rescue: The Cathy Mahone Story,” (Jan. 18), “Killer Rules” (Jan. 24), and “It’s Nothing Personal” (Feb. 1); and the World Figure Skating Championships (Jan. 29). CBS’ major sweeps gambit will be “Queen, ” a six-hour miniseries, to air Feb. 14, 16 and 18.

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