NEW YORK — NBC is expected to announce to advertisers today that “Frasier” will replace “Seinfeld” in the crucial Thursday 9 p.m. timeslot this fall.
Up until late last week, Brillstein-Grey’s “Just Shoot Me” seemed a top contender for the timeslot, but the sophomore comedy will move into “Frasier’s” Tuesday 9 p.m. slot instead, sources said.
NBC has ordered four new comedies and two new dramas for fall, and half of the six new entertainment series are produced by NBC Studios. The other three series are from Warner Bros. TV and Paramount Network TV, two studios that already produce hit series for NBC and therefore have clout.
Entertainment shows down
In total, NBC will air 14 comedies (down from 18 at the start of last season), seven dramas (which equals last year’s total) and five newsmags, all “Dateline” (up from four). The six new entertainment series total is down from eight new shows last fall.
While shows yanked earlier this season, including “The Naked Truth,” “Fired Up” and “Players,” among others, won’t return, there were no surprise omissions from the fall schedule. Brillstein-Grey’s “NewsRadio,” which had been on the bubble, made it back — but at a price. Sources say the Peacock web was able to extract profit participation in the series, which will soon be sold in syndication. NBC also was able to get some financial protection in case it becomes necessary to cut back from a full season’s order, sources said.
Final details of what sources describe as a very deal-driven schedule were still sketchy at press time, but “NewsRadio” is expected to follow “3rd Rock from the Sun” Wednesdays at 9:30, unless the Wednesday comedy block is moved up an hour, which is a distinct possibility.
A fifth hour of the newsmag “Dateline” will either precede the comedy block on Wednesday at 8 p.m. or follow it at 9 p.m. sources said.
The Dick Wolf drama “Law & Order” is expected to stay at 10 p.m. Wednesday, while the frosh sitcom “Working,” which had followed “3rd Rock” all season, is now expected to shift to Tuesday at 9:30, following “Just Shoot Me.”
Fewer big scheduling moves
NBC stuck with its four-sitcom strategy on Monday but abandoned the “Must-She” element, and in general made fewer big scheduling moves than last season. The biggest challenge will be for NBC to maintain a strong Tuesday without “Frasier,” which just this year began to consistently defeat ABC’s “Home Improvement,” pushing NBC to No. 1 on the night.
While the new Tuesday schedule is a risk, Thursday is clearly NBC’s most important night, and the web made the safe decision there, moving in its biggest gun, “Frasier,” a proven hit show in its fifth season. Sources say NBC may have negotiated a deal to renew “Frasier” through its eighth season before deciding to move the show to Thursday, although the studio had no comment.
‘Closet’ stays put
Warner Bros.’ frosh comedy “Veronica’s Closet” is expected to stay on Thursday night in its 9:30 timeslot after “Frasier,” while the new WB comedy “All My Life,” starring Christina Applegate and produced by the team behind “Friends,” will likely be launched at 8:30 p.m., following “Friends.” With “ER” at 10 p.m., “Frasier” will be the only Thursday night series not from Warner Bros.
While NBC has dominated Thursday night for years, there is already rumbling that Fox will move at least one of its hit series to Thursday night to mount a direct challenge to NBC. The other nets will announce their schedules later this week, with ABC on tap Tuesday, CBS on Wednesday and Fox on Thursday.
Sundays spotlight sports
NBC’s Sunday lineup is expected to feature a series of sports specials at 7 p.m., followed by “Dateline” at 8 p.m. and the Sunday movie from 9-11 p.m.
The new series on NBC’s schedule include the following:
– NBC Studios’ “Conrad Bloom,” produced by the team behind “Caroline in the City” and directed by Jim Burrows, is a comedy about a guy searching for love and meaning in his Madison Avenue job. Sources said “Conrad Bloom” will air Mondays at 8:30 following “Suddenly Susan.”
– NBC Studios’ “Will & Grace,” also directed by Burrows, will likely air Mondays at 9:30 after “Caroline in the City.” The sitcom is about a gay man and his female best friend.
– NBC Studios’ drama “Wind on Water,” starring Bo Derek, is set in Hawaii and features two sons who surf in order to raise money to save their family ranch. It is expected to air Saturdays at 8, leading into the returning “Pretender” and “Profiler.”
– Par’s Nathan Lane starrer “Encore! Encore!,” produced by the team behind “Frasier,” is about a former opera singer living in the Napa Valley. The sitcom is expected to air Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. after “Mad About You.”
– WB’s comedy “All My Life” stars Applegate as a young single mother living with her brother and working as a waitress.
– The John Wells drama “Trinity,” from Warner Bros. TV, is about an Irish family living in Hell’s Kitchen. It is expected to air Fridays at 8, followed by “Dateline” and “Homicide.”
NBC is still deciding on its midseason orders, although sources said Par’s “Lateline,” which aired midseason this year, will return as a backup next season. The NBC Studios drama “Providence” is also likely to get a backup order and another Wells drama, “Adversaries,” is a strong midseason contender.
Warner Bros.’ “For Your Love,” which aired midseason on NBC this season, may wind up at the WB netlet if NBC doesn’t give it another midseason slot.