Network revamps its schedule

Five nights a week of soap operas drenched in sex and violence proved to be too much for MyNetworkTV viewers, so the network has drawn up a revamped schedule that mixes telenovelas with martial-arts competitions and theatrical movies.

“Trying to get people to watch serialized dramas every night on MyNetwork TV was asking the impossible,” said Greg Meidel cq, who was appointed president of the Fox-owned network last month.

The new schedule, which kicks off March 8, will shrink the telenovelas’ schedule from 10 hours a week over five nights to four hours over two nights, Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Monday, the two-hour “International Fight League’s Total Impact” will feature professional mixed-martial-arts athletes organized into teams for the first time. Twelve five-man teams (10 in the U.S. and one each in Toronto and Tokyo) will battle it out over a 22-week season, with one team emerging the winner. The network will repeat each two-hour match the following Saturday at 8 p.m.

The Tuesday telenovela is “American Heiress,” which follows a wealthy, pampered woman and a rough-hewn male hunk who end up trying to survive in the jungle after their plane crashes. Alicia Leigh Willis (“General Hospital”) is the star.

“Saints & Sinners,” the Wednesday drama, finds passion and murder in the lives of Miami Beach hotel owners. The cast includes Maria Conchita Alonso, Charles Shaughnessy cq, Mel Harris and Robin Givens.

Twentieth TV, a sister company of the Fox TV Stations, which has responsibility for MyNetworkTV, is the producers of the two soaps, which have production commitments that will keep the network in originals through the end of September.

Meidel said he has embarked on a movie buying spree to fill Thursday and Friday each week, starting with “The Rundown,” starring The Rock, on March 8, and “Rocky IV” the next night. “In general,” Meidel said, “we’re looking for action pictures and comedies.”

The network didn’t announce any specific projects in development. “But we’re also holding meetings with the top reality-show producers, both for gameshows and traditional reality programs,” he said, adding that scripted sitcoms and cop shows are a few years down the road because of their high production cost.

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