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E! to air fewer ‘Hollywood’ stories

Cabler lays off staff, reduces number of segs ordered

E! Entertainment TV will be writing fewer chapters in its “True Hollywood Story” next year.

Cable net has laid off 12 staffers, or one-quarter of the “True Hollywood Story” team, and has reduced its episode order from 37 segs a year to 27 for 2007. Show is produced in-house via E! Studios.

Moves follow a decision last month to shift premiere episodes of “THS” to Saturdays at 6 pm, though the net continues to air next-day repeats in the show’s original Sundays at 8 timeslot.

Jeff Shore, senior veep for E! Studios, said the cabler is less reliant on the franchise with the recent success of several newer primetime originals, among them “The Simple Life,” which moved from broadcast web Fox to E! this year, “Girls Next Door” and “Dr. 90210.” (“House of Carters,” the frosh reality show chronicling the lives of Nick Carter and his sibs, is a different story; after a promising start, latest episode drew just 427,000 viewers against tough competish — NBC’s “Heroes” — Monday at 9).

“A few years ago, we needed ‘THS’ as an anchor and a ratings driver. Now we have a lot of new shows carrying Sunday and other nights,” said Shore, who also acknowledged that it was harder to make “THS” an event “when we run it so many times a week in different dayparts … it’s knocked our ratings down some.”

Year to date, “THS” is averaging 530,000 viewers in its premiere runs.

Emmy-nominated hour, a “Biography”-style skein for showbiz personalities and phenomena, launched in March 1996 and remains E!’s longest-running original.

Show is far from dead, said Shore, who has overseen the series since its inception. “It’s a question of how many good (subjects) we will have,” he said. Around 450 episodes of “THS” have been produced.

Net will also continue to produce a handful of “THS Investigates” specials.

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