Perky duets highlight Gotham schedule war

It's 'Donny & Marie' vs. 'Regis & Kathie Lee'

NEW YORK — Gotham’s ayem chat war just got perkier, with WNYW skedding sunny ’70s siblings “Donny & Marie” opposite WABC’s long-dominant smile-meisters “Regis & Kathie Lee.”

Finally taking the wraps off its fall lineup, the Fox flagship Tuesday announced that Columbia TriStar’s frosh yakfest “Donny & Marie” will air weekdays at 9 a.m. starting Sept. 21, putting it in direct competition with Buena Vista’s Gotham-based “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee.” The move, while not completely unexpected, will force “Donny & Marie” to find an audience in the nation’s largest TV market while going up against one of top-rated WABC’s most potent performers.

Gotham TV observers expect “Live” to continue as the most watched show in the 9 a.m. slot, though the veteran yakker could be vulnerable to a challenge this fall, particularly if its lead-in, ABC’s floundering “Good Morning America,” continues its recent ratings free-fall. The good news for “Live”? WNYW’s “Good Day New York,” which will lead into “Donny & Marie,” has also seen sharp viewership declines lately.

Evening overhaul

As for the rest of its lineup, WNYW is completely overhauling its early evening schedule, slating back-to-back episodes of its newest off-net sitcom strip –“The Nanny” — for 6-7 p.m. and putting a double run of “The Simpsons” in the key 7-8 p.m. access slot. “Home Improvement,” a staple of WNYW’s evening sked for years, is being reduced to a single run, which will play at 5:30 p.m.

“Living Single” will shift to 5 p.m., while “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” disappears completely. All the sitcom changes will take place Sept. 14.

In the mornings, WNYW will run syndie biz-news strip “First Business” weekdays at 5 a.m., leading into the station’s three and a half-hour block of local news.

As for latenight, the Fox flagship will continue with a second run of “Living Single” at 11:30 p.m., with “Mad About You” and “MASH” filling the 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. slot soon to be vacated by Magic Johnson’s yak bomb, “The Magic Hour.” “Cops” returns to latenight in the 12:30 a.m. time period.

Lotto game show

On weekends, WNYW has inked a deal with the New York State Lottery Commission to pick up “New York Wired,” the lotto-themed gameshow that had been airing on WNBC. WNYW will run “Wired” Sunday at midnight, bumping “Siskel & Ebert” back another half-hour, to 12:30 a.m.

The Fox station is also shuffling its Saturday afternoon schedule, creating a block of young-adult oriented dramas and action-ers. The lineup, which is set to bow Sept. 19, will begin at 1 p.m. with the off-net broadcast premiere of “Party of Five,” fol-lowed by “Robin Hood” and “Stargate SG-1.”

Pamela Anderson’s new first-run syndie actioner “VIP” will bow Saturday, Sept. 26 in the 4 p.m. slot, with off-net repeats of “New York Undercover” at 5 p.m., “The X-Files” at 6 p.m. and back-to-back installments of “The Simpsons” at 7 p.m. “VIP” will get a second play Sundays at 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, WCBS Tuesday confirmed the few changes it’s making to its lineup next fall.

The most significant sked shift will come at 4 p.m. weekdays, where “Inside Edition” is set to replace one run of “Judge Judy.” The red-hot Worldvision courtroom show will now get a single run, at 4:30 p.m., leading into the CBS flagship’s 5 p.m. newscast.

Shifts in schedule

As expected, “Entertainment Tonight” will shift to 7 p.m., allowing King World’s new game strip “Hollywood Squares” to occupy the 7:30 p.m. time period. The move will make WNBC’s “Access Hollywood” the only magazine strip at 7:30 p.m. in Gotham.

Not surprisingly, WCBS is going heavy on sports-related programming on weekends, taking full advantage of the return of NFL games to the Eye web. Two locally-produced NFL preview shows will air from 11 a.m. to noon on Sundays, while “Sports Wrap,” a new sports-news series produced by WCBS, will run Sundays at 11:35 p.m.

WPIX, the Tribune-owned WB flagship, is the only Gotham station yet to announce its fall lineup.

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