‘Snoops’ droops in ABC ‘Million’ shift

Alphabet set to unveil sked

David E. Kelley’s high-profile ABC drama “Snoops” will soon be history, at least in part because of the success of the net’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

While the Alphabet web recently ordered a full season of the frosh detective skein, the need to find room on ABC’s primetime sked for multiple nights of “Millionaire” resulted in a space crunch which ultimately led to Kelley and ABC throwing in the towel on the series. The net is also expected to pull the plug on frosh laffer “Odd Man Out” as part of an overall midseason sked shuffle expected to be announced today.

According to industry insiders familiar with the situation, once ABC decided to sked “Millionaire” several nights a week — including Sunday nights at 9 p.m., where “Snoops” is currently housed (Daily Variety, Nov. 30) — the net told Kelley the only viable timeslot it had for his show was Thursdays at 10 p.m. opposite NBC’s still-mighty “ER.”

With “Snoops” already struggling in the ratings, and with the imminent departure of co-star Paula Marshall requiring Kelley to dramatically rework the premise of the series, Kelley decided it didn’t make sense to continue with the skein. Production on the series is expected to halt after filming of the 13th episode.

Making the decision easier for ABC execs was the continued poor ratings perf of “Snoops” in its current slot, despite extensive promotion of the show and extra efforts by ABC to lure viewers, such as skedding one seg after “Millionaire.” Season-to-date, the drama is averaging a so-so 10.81 million viewers.

The upside for Kelly in the “Snoops” cancellation is that his other ABC drama, “The Practice,” will now have “Millionaire” as a lead-in. Already a hit, “The Practice” achieved its best numbers ever with the quizzer airing before it.

While ABC execs remained tightlipped Wednesday night, industry insiders expected the net today to announce a new lineup with “Millionaire” airing for likely an hour on Sundays and Thursdays, and at least a half-hour on Tuesdays.

On Mondays, ABC is expected to air a movie from 8-10 p.m., with “Once and Again” moving into its previously announced new timeslot of Mondays at 10. “Millionaire” is expected to take on “Frasier” Thursdays at 9 p.m., though it’s unclear if ABC will air the show from 8:30-9:30 or from 9-10 p.m.

ABC will also make changes to its Friday sked to accommodate the departure of “Odd Man Out.” There was some speculation late Wednesday that ABC might even add an extra half-hour of “Millionaire” on Fridays, though the net might not want to wear out the franchise.

Meanwhile, Fox’s “Millionaire” clone “Greed” will be sticking around a little longer. The net has ordered six additional segs of the critically trashed attempt to rip-off ABC’s success.

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