‘Blue’ targeted for hiatus as ‘Fire’ bows

Lurie-created skein to preem in Dec. 2

Christmas break comes early this year for ABC’s “NYPD Blue,” which will go on hiatus after November sweeps to make room for new drama “Line of Fire.”

Created by Rod Lurie, “Line of Fire” premieres Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 10 p.m. The drama will continue in that slot for nine weeks, until “Blue” returns in time for February sweeps.

ABC Entertainment prexy Susan Lyne said scheduling “Line of Fire” in “Blue’s” slot is part of an initiative to keep the Tuesday at 10 p.m. timeslot in originals throughout the rest of the season.

That means the net won’t schedule any “Blue” repeats this season, and when the cop drama needs to take a break or two next spring, specials will fill the hour.

ABC has frequently rested “Blue” through the years to give new programs a crack at that Tuesday night audience, as well as to give the Steven Bochco drama a chance to catch up on production and post-production schedules.

But “Blue” usually doesn’t go on hiatus until post-February. Lyne said the net decided to give the show an earlier break this year in order to launch “Line of Fire” off of November sweeps.

“We have a good promotional launch pad in November for this show, we’ve still got Monday Night Football, and we’ve got some big news ‘gets’ in the month — some of which have been announced, such as Jessica Lynch, and some that will be announced,” she said.

Lyne said the net also saw a benefit in launching “Line of Fire” before Fox brings megahit “American Idol” back to Tuesday nights in January.

“That’s useful for us, because we will be winning Tuesday nights, so we’ll have a better lead into our 10 p.m. show,” she said.

DreamWorks and Touchstone TV have already delivered six episodes of “Line of Fire” to the web, having started production at the same time as the network’s fall series.

ABC will still have four episodes of “Line of Fire” at its disposal come February. Should it hit big, “Line of Fire” could potentially extend its Tuesday night stay a little bit longer, or move to another night once “Blue” returns.

“Line of Fire” revolves around an organized crime family and its battles with the FBI. Leslie Bibb, Anson Mount, David Paymer, Leslie Hope, Jeffrey Sams, Brian Goodman, Michael Irby and Julie Ann Emery star.

Lurie, who also directed the show’s first episode, exec produces “Line of Fire” along with Marc Frydman and Jeff Melvoin.

Elsewhere, there’s no word on the fate of NBC’s “Boomtown.” Skein’s production hiatus has been extended for another week pending a decision by Peacock brass.

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