ABC has opted to air a special episode of “The Practice” in the mega-cherry timeslot following this year’s Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the major webs have locked in most of their skeds for February sweeps, which features a three-network miniseries showdown on Feb. 27, the rating period’s final Sunday.
As for “The Practice,” the hourlong seg of the David E. Kelley skein will air immediately after the big game and assorted post-game festivities on Sunday, Jan. 30 at approximately 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. Decision ends speculation the Alphabet might run an episode of smash gameshow hit “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in the primo slot, which in the past has been used by webs to launch new skeins.
ABC skedders, however, wanted to give the priceless exposure to “The Practice,” which normally airs Sundays at 10 p.m. Despite the show’s success in the slot, Alphabet insiders think the Super Bowl boost could turn “The Practice” into an even bigger hit.
By contrast, “Millionaire” is already a monster hit, and the strategy of bowing new skeins after the game has failed far more often that it has succeeded.
The move might also serve to soothe any lingering hurt feelings on the part of Kelley, whose frosh drama “Snoops” was recently dumped by ABC. Kelley has created a special seg for the slot, which will contain key dramatic twists, according to industry insiders.
“Millionaire” will still be a part of ABC’s Super Bowl weekend programming plans. The web has approved a special NFL-themed edition of the show to air the Saturday night before the big game; questions will all be pegged to football. ABC will air a special movie-themed “Millionaire” on the Saturday night before its March 26 Oscarcast, which will bump the usual Sunday seg of the show.
As for the February sweeps, ABC has now locked in Sunday, Feb. 27, and Monday, Feb. 28, as the airdates for “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” its four-hour mini about the classic American band. The skedding pits “Beach” against night one of CBS’s four-hour Jon Benet Ramsey mini “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” and the opening salvo of NBC’s 10-hour opus “The 10th Kingdom.”
“Beach” will run from 9-11 p.m. on Feb. 27, with “Wonderful World of Disney” pre-empted for the night. The usual 9 p.m. Sunday seg of “Millionaire” will shift to 8 p.m., while a bloopers spec is set for 7 p.m.
ABC is still weighing whether to strip “Millionaire” for two weeks during sweeps, but such a move is a strong possibility. The net has already cleared 8 p.m. slots on Feb. 26 and Feb. 29 to make room for “Millionaire,” though specials could fill those holes.
The first big Sunday sweeps battle takes place Feb. 6 with CBS slated to air the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation “Missing Pieces,” starring Oscar winner James Coburn, opposite the broadcast premiere of “Face/Off” on NBC and ABC’s regular 9-11 p.m. sked. The Pro Bowl will bump “Disney” for the week.
CBS starts its period mini “Sally Hemings” on Feb. 13 opposite NBC’s “Homicide” reunion pic and regular programming on ABC. On Feb. 20, NBC will run its Little Richard biopic, ABC will stick with regular programming and CBS will unveil a new take on “Flowers for Algernon.”
Other notable sweeps maneuverings:
- NBC has skedded a “Law & Order”/”Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” crossover event for a Friday 9-11 p.m. slot on Feb. 18.
- ABC will air either a two-hour “NYPD Blue” or an extra seg of the skein on a Monday or Wednesday.
- ABC will bump “Once & Again” for two weeks during sweeps to accommodate the three-hour broadcast premiere of “Ransom” and the second part of “Beach Boys.” Net’s “Mary & Rhoda” pic will air Monday, Feb. 7, while “Liar, Liar” debuts Feb. 14. A Disney presentation of “Flubber” is set to replace TGIF programming on Feb. 4.