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ABC cuts down on yuks

Net plans to sked eight comedies this fall, down from 10

ABC will laugh a little less often this fall — while for CBS vet “Yes, Dear,” the laughs may be over.

Nothing’s been decided at the Eye, but industry insiders were abuzz over the weekend with the possibility that CBS — in the wake of strong comedy development — may opt to take “Yes” off the fall lineup to make room for a new laffer.

A factor in the decision: The co-production deal between 20th Century Fox TV and CBS Prods. calls for the Eye to take on the full cost of production in the show’s fifth season. “Yes” was also something of a dud in syndication, with 20th selling the show on a barter basis, with no upfront cash (Daily Variety, March 17).

Still, CBS faced a similar situation with “Becker” last year but ultimately ended up ordering one more round of 13 episodes — a scenario that could be in play for “Yes.”

Eye’s comedy development is expected to result in greenlights for at least two laffers: John Goodman starrer “Center of the Universe” and the untitled Jason Alexander half-hour.

As for the Alphabet, net was still mulling over its fall schedule Sunday night, as execs weighed the pros and cons of at least two strategies from two different camps within the Disney-owned net. Regardless of which lineup they end up unveiling on Tuesday, ABC execs plan to sked just eight comedies this fall — down from 10.

That leaves little room for new laffers and means cancellation for sophomore bubble show “Life With Bonnie” and frosh laffers “I’m With Her,” “Married to the Kellys” and “It’s All Relative.”

ABC will pick up just two new sitcoms — Mel Gibson-produced family comedy “Savages” (Daily Variety, May 14) and standup comic Rodney Carrington’s “That’s Just Rodney” — its smallest number of new laffers since 2001.

Comedies in the mix for midseason, but not yet ordered, are Jennifer Love Hewitt’s untitled laffer and the sitcoms “I Married Sofia” and “Full Circle.” ABC’s Jessica Simpson laffer won’t be moving forward, but talks are under way for a plan to produce up to eight Simpson specials over two years. Deal was still being negotiated Sunday night.

By contrast, ABC is bulking up on dramas as it continues its quest to find an hourlong scripted hit.

Hours getting greenlights include “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and the tentatively titled “Life as We Know It” (formerly known as “Doing It”). The net’s untitled “Practice” spinoff is expected to make the grade — and likely land in “The Practice’s” old Sunday night slot — and medical drama “Gray’s Anatomy” has been greenlit.

Other dramas that have made the cut at the Alphabet web include Steven Bochco’s “Blind Justice” and the spy agency thriller “Eyes.” When they’ll air is less certain.

A healthy dose of reality is also expected on ABC this fall. In addition to returning hits “The Bachelor,” “Extreme Makeover,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” look for “Wife Swap” to land a fall slot.

ABC News has also developed a hip, young newsmag dubbed “Good 2 Go” that could land a slot, perhaps Mondays at 8. Skein has yet to be ordered, however.

New skeins will join returning laffers “My Wife & Kids,” “George Lopez,” “According to Jim,” “Less Than Perfect,” “8 Simple Rules” and “Hope and Faith.” “20/20” and “Primetime” are expected to return in some form, though the departure of Barbara Walters could mean changes for the former newsmag.

Also back for another year are dramas “NYPD Blue” and “Alias.”

With only eight comedies on its sked, the big question for ABC is whether to cut back an hour of laffers on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. There’s been speculation “Alias” could be on the move as well or that “George Lopez” could move to a Tuesday anchor position.

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