ABC on Wednesday took the unusual step of picking up its Saturday David E. Kelley legal drama “The Practice” through the 1998-1999 season. Sources said the web also has locked in the sophomore TGIF sitcom “Sabrina: The Teenage Witch” through 1999-2000.
The “Sabrina” franchise is spreading fast. On the heels of a successful “Sabrina” TV movie for the “Wonderful World of Disney,” producer Viacom Prods. has inked a deal with Disney-owned DIC Entertainment for an animated spinoff of the show, possibly for ABC’s Saturday morning lineup, sources said.
On top of “Sabrina” and “Practice,” sources said the network has decided to order a full season of the Thursday drama “Nothing Sacred,” which could move to Saturday night. Both “Practice” and “Nothing Sacred” are produced by 20th Century Fox TV.
‘Practice’ makes perfect
Sources said ABC ordered two full seasons of “The Practice” as a nod to Kelley, who this year complained that he was unhappy with the Saturday timeslot. Kelley had been under the impression that his show would be placed on Wednesday at 10 p.m., but “Primetime Live” held onto the slot.
ABC entertainment president Jamie Tarses said in a statement, “We scheduled ‘The Practice’ in a very difficult time period and the risk paid off.”
The show is averaging a 6.4/12 in homes and a 3.7/11 in young adults. It’s the only Saturday night program that’s working for ABC, and it increases its lead-in by an average of 34%.
“Sacred” has not fared particularly well Thursdays at 8 p.m., and it’s been plagued by a boycott from Catholic conservatives. However, ABC believes in the show and may move it to Saturday at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. “Sacred” has averaged a 4.8/8 in homes and a 2.0/6 in young adults this season.
ABC also needs the show because all of its new dramas are performing below expectations, and the network does not have enough backups. The Saturday 9 p.m. show “Total Security” has been canceled and the 8 p.m. “C16: FBI” is on the bubble.
On Friday night, the 8 p.m. anchor of ABC’s kid- and family-oriented TGIF lineup, “Sabrina,” has been a solid performer at a time when the Alphabet web is struggling to find new hits and hold onto existing ones. The show, based on the Archie Comics character, has consistently won its timeslot since premiering on ABC last fall.
For the season thus far, the Melissa Joan Hart-toplined show has averaged an 8.2 household rating and 16 share.
“Sabrina” is expected to bow in syndication in fall 2000. The show is likely to be highly sought-after as an afternoon show by TV station buyers, particularly Fox, UPN and WB Network affils, given its top 10 ranking with teens and kids.