TNT transplants ‘Heartland’

Summer show shifted from 'Closer' lead-in

The packed summer cable sked may have its first casualty.

“Heartland,” the TNT medical drama starring Treat Williams, has been shuffled out of its prime slot just two episodes into its run.

Time Warner-owned net is moving the show out of the Monday 10 p.m. spot following hit procedural “The Closer” and shifting it to the less desirable 8 p.m. slot, where the show won’t have the benefit of an original lead-in.

Instead, execs will debut Holly Hunter vehicle “Saving Grace” in the 10 p.m. slot on Monday, July 23; idea is to fill that valuable timeslot with a show that stands a better chance of breaking out.

Execs made the decision after two weeks in which “Heartland” performed poorly in the ratings.

On Monday, net gathered 3 million total viewers and a dismal 800,000 in adults 18-49; disappointing numbers rep roughly 30% drops in both categories compared to the previous week.

“Heartland” has had a rough time with critics, but TNT had been hoping that its star and lead-in would help it build an audience.

More than 30 original series are premiering on cable this summer as nets ramp up their original programming, and TV observers believe that many shows won’t survive the glut.

The timeslot switch makes a “Heartland” run beyond the current nine-episode order less likely.

TNT did continue its strong run for “The Closer,” drawing 6.5 million total viewers Monday for the Kyra Sedgwick skein in its second week. Number reps a 27% drop from last week’s record-breaking perf but is still the strongest on basic cable by a wide margin.

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