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‘Joey’ still Peacock pal

LeBlanc laffer makes it to next season's sked

Frosh NBC laffer “Joey” will join vet skeins “Crossing Jordan,” “Las Vegas,” “The West Wing” and “ER” on next season’s sked, the net announced Thursday.

NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly confirmed the pickups to media buyers gathered on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” stage to take a peek at the Peacock’s fall development slate.

Hoping to reverse ratings slides, Reilly promised that the net “will be stronger in September than we are right now.”

“We can do better,” he said. “I’m acutely aware we need a new generation of hits.”

Opening the morning, NBC Universal sales/marketing prexy Keith Turner was similarly frank. “This is not the season we had hoped it would be,” he said.

Reilly introduced clips of shows that have already started shooting, including Pentagon drama “The E-Ring,” from Bruckheimer TV and Warner Bros. TV; the sea creature thriller “Fathom,” from NBC Universal TV Studio; and the NBC U/Sony “French Connection” redux “NY-70.”

On the comedy side, Peacock sneaked scenes from “My Name Is Earl” (20th Century Fox TV) and “Lies and the Wives We Tell Them To” (NBC U).

As for the pickups, “Joey” hasn’t fared as well as expected, but still remains the season’s top-rated new comedy among adults 18-49. Show averages a 4.6 rating and 13 share in the demo. Although a “Joey” pickup wasn’t a foregone conclusion, NBC hopes to expand its comedy presence next season — and needs returning shows to help launch the new entries.

Among shows whose fate is still unclear are vet comedies “Will & Grace” and “Scrubs” and drama “Third Watch.”

They were celebrating at Warner Bros. TV, which is behind “Joey,” “ER” and “The West Wing.” “ER” had already been set for next fall but will now continue for two years beyond that, through 2007-08 (the show’s 14th season), while “The West Wing” returns for its seventh season as expected, after a cut in license fee (Daily Variety, March 16).

“ER” remains the net’s top-rated adults 18-49 series (tied with “The Apprentice 2”), with a 7.8 rating/20 share, while “The West Wing,” averaging a 3.4 rating/8 share, is still the net’s top series among higher-income viewers.

Meanwhile, “Crossing Jordan” will enter its fifth season next fall, while “Las Vegas” heads into its third. “Jordan,” from NBC Universal TV Studio, is averaging a 4.2 rating/10 share with adults 18-49, while “Las Vegas” — from NUTS and DreamWorks TV — has posted a 4.5/10 in the demo.

In other NBC news Thursday:

–Imagine TV and entertainment marketing firm Madison Road Entertainment has joined the production team behind NBC’s reality skein “Treasure Hunters.”

“Project Runway” producers Magical Elves (Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz) had already been attached to the skein, which has a 10-episode order (Daily Variety, March 4). Skein follows competitors who solve puzzles and cross the globe in a chase for a hidden treasure.

Imagine’s Brian Grazer and David Nevins, as well as Madison Road’s Tom Mazza, Danica Krislovich and Jak Severson, will exec produce with Cutforth and Lipsitz.

–NBC has expanded the team behind its eight-hour miniseries “9.11,” bringing in consultants Peter Lance and Steve Coll, scribe Fred Golan and the New York Times to work on the project.

Imagine TV, Twentieth TV and NBC Universal TV Studio are spearheading the project, which focuses on the events leading up to and including the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Graham Yost, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and David Nevins are exec producing.

Project will now take advantage of the research by Lance (“1,000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI — the Untold Story”) and Coll (“Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001”), as well as the New York Times’ famed “Portraits of Grief” series.

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