Peacock’s flock

Confident NBC makes few changes for the fall

NBC executives tried to come off as confident but not too cocky at the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers Monday afternoon at Radio City Music Hall.

Instead of the major sked shakeup of last season, ratings champ NBC will leave 14 hours of its lineup unchanged for the 1998-99 season and will seek to build from its strengths.

As expected, “Frasier” will replace “Seinfeld” in the 9 p.m. anchor spot on NBC’s “Must See TV” Thursday night lineup (Daily Variety, May 18).

In a slick presentation that featured fireworks, NBC tried to put on a good face after losing “Seinfeld,” and also sought to demonstrate that while fresh shows like Comedy Central’s “South Park” do keep eating into the broadcast networks’ viewership, NBC is still the best place for advertisers to reach a mass 18-54 audience.

“There’s a lot of negativity flowing and we have only ourselves to blame,” said NBC West Coast programming chief Don Ohlmeyer. “Our biggest mistake has been to allow misconceptions to take hold. The only true measure is adults 18-54. Isn’t that the real goal of advertisers?”

NBC Entertainment prez Warren Littlefield pointed out that while HBO’s $65 million “From the Earth to the Moon” miniseries garnered tons of publicity, it only reached an average audience of 3 million viewers, good for 144th place behind “Moesha.”

On Monday, NBC will keep “Suddenly Susan” and “Caroline in the City” at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively. “Conrad Bloom,” a sitcom from NBC Studios about a young ad agency exec directed by Jim Burrows, will premiere at 8:30 p.m., and “Will & Grace,” another sitcom directed by Burrows, will join the schedule at 9:30 p.m. “Dateline NBC” stays at 10 p.m.

Tuesday night, “Mad About You” will remain at 8 p.m., followed by “Encore! Encore!,” the new Nathan Lane sitcom. “Just Shoot Me” will air at 9 p.m., followed by “Working” at 9:30 p.m. and “Dateline NBC” at 10 p.m.

In an effort to give the 9 p.m. “3rd Rock From the Sun” a better lead-in, NBC will add another “Dateline NBC” to the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot. “Newsradio” will follow “3rd Rock” at 9:30 p.m. with “Law & Order” keeping its 10 p.m. timeslot.

“Friends” will remain at 8 p.m. on Thursday and lead in to the new “All My Life,” a Warner Bros. comedy starring Christina Applegate, at 8:30 p.m. “Frasier” takes over the “Seinfeld” slot at 9 p.m. and “Veronica’s Closet” remains at 9:30 p.m. in its sophomore season. Top-rated drama “ER” rounds out the night at 10 p.m.

NBC will premiere a new John Wells drama, “Trinity,” at 8 p.m. on Friday night. “Dateline NBC” will come back at 9 p.m. and “Homicide” will keep its 10 p.m. slot.

Saturday night will kick off with the exotic “Wind on Water” at 8 p.m. The Hawaiian drama stars Bo Derek as the mother of two sons who turn to extreme surfing to come up with enough money to save the family’s ranch. The rest of the night is stable with “The Pretender” at 9 p.m. and “Profiler” at 10 p.m.

The 7 p.m. slot on Sunday will feature a mix of specials and sports, such as primetime NBA games, followed by “Dateline NBC” at 8 p.m. “The NBC Sunday Night at the Movies” returns at 9 p.m. on Sundays and will feature a mix of originals and theatricals.

NBC’s biggest miniseries of the season will be May’s “Noah’s Ark,” produced by Robert Halmi and starring Jon Voight.