Now that the distraction of the November sweeps is over, the networks can focus on midseason, with ABC Entertainment prez Ted Harbert saying his network’s new series will largely be held until March — after CBS’ 17-day assault from the Winter Olympics.
At this point only two new ABC shows, James L. Brooks’ “The Critic” and probably the Brian Dennehy drama “Birdland,” will premiere in January. Although ABC wouldn’t specify time periods, sources say the animated half-hour could get a tryout at 8:30 Tuesday or Wednesday, with the latter to play either at 10 p.m. Wednesday or between 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday paired with “Matlock.” Both shows are from Columbia Pictures TV.
Harbert added that specials and movies will fill the 8-10 p.m. Saturday slot “until further notice.” The network performed reasonably well with theatricals there through the first six weeks of the season before premiering the short-lived lineup of “George,””Where I Live” and “The Paula Poundstone Show.”
ABC also acknowledged that it’s considering a 10 p.m. Wednesday berth in the spring for its fourth news magazine, “Turning Point,” but stressed that nothing had been determined.
Regarding future sweeps, the Alphabet network confirmed plans to air “Heaven & Hell”– a six-hour continuation of the “North & South” trilogy — in February, to be followed in May by the eight-hour Stephen King multiparter “The Stand.”
NBC, meanwhile, said it still hopes to get NBC Prods.’ Gene Wilder sitcom vehicle “The Eligible Dentist” on during the spring, despite the exit of exec producer David Seltzer.
John Markus, who served as a producer on “The Cosby Show,” has been brought in to rework the series and serve as its show runner.
Other NBC midseason fare to be held for spring includes the soap “Winnetka Road,” TriStar’s George Wendt sitcom and the recently announced Disney comedy featuring kid actress Gaby Hoffman. The web has already said “The Good Life, “”Viper” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” will join the lineup the first week in January.
CBS and Fox Broadcasting Co. have also been mum regarding scheduling changes. The Eye web has holes to fill at 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, with a revival of “Burke’s Law” seen likely for the Friday slot. The network also has high hopes for the serial “Second Chances,” particularly with “Homicide” as competition instead of “L.A. Law” during January.
Fox’s possible additions include Warner Bros.’ George Carlin comedy Sunday as well as Disney’s Henry Winkler vehicle “Monty” for a Tuesday berth.
Separately, ABC said negotiations have yet to begin with the Carsey-Werner Co. regarding the renewal of “Roseanne,” currently in its sixth season and coming to the end of a two-year renewal deal that reportedly commanded a license fee of roughly $ 2 million per episode.