NBC unveils new summer script

More than 10 alternative skeins planned

HOLLYWOOD — NBC has set Tuesday, May 27, as the launch date for its ambitious summer programming blitz of nearly a dozen original unscripted skeins.

Net plans to air at least one hour of original programming on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,  Wednesday and Friday nights for most of the summer. More than 50% of the Peacock’s warm-weather programming will be original, up from around 40% last year.

NBC’s slate will compete against an even more aggressive summer programming push by Fox, which, during the early part of the summer will air nothing but first-run fare Monday through Thursday nights (save for repeats of “That ’70s Show” on Wednesdays).

Fox, however, is choosing not to make a distinction between summer and the regular season, flatly declaring it’s in the year-round programming biz.

Two waves

As for the Peacock, net will roll out its summer skeins in two waves: A first batch of six shows will launch over a two-week frame beginning the Tuesday after Memorial Day. In addition to returning summer skeins such as “Dog Eat Dog,” “Meet My Folks” and “Crime & Punishment,” this batch of shows includes several previously announced newcomers, including the relationship skein “For Love or Money,” a reality version of “Fame” and the yuks hunt “Last Comic Standing.”

Next batch of at least three to five skeins will be unveiled after July 4. All of the shows in this group will be new concepts, including the “Joe Millionaire”-like “Beauty and the Average Joe” and the Ben Silverman/ Mark Burnett-produced unscripted workplace drama “The Restaurant.”

In addition, the Friday edition of “Dateline NBC” will offer original episodes throughout the summer.

Slew of programming will be hyped under the promotional banner “NBC’s New Summer Season.”

Move to year-round

NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker said the summer slate is part of the network’s gradual move toward original programming year-round.

“We’ve had great success each of the last two summers (by offering original reality skeins),” Zucker said. “We’re trying to build on that. I think that everybody is moving toward a 52-week season.”

In addition to “keeping the lights on” during the warm-weather months and providing a platform to hype new fall shows, Zucker said he hopes at least one of the reality skeins launched this summer will break out and serve as a potential midseason replacement.

Zucker is also putting on hold previously announced plans to debut two original scripted skeins during the summer, a goal he laid out to reporters in January.

“We came real close to doing that, but we decided that right now we weren’t ready to do it,” Zucker said. “We’ll make it a goal for next summer.”

Here’s a night-by-night look at where original programming will land on NBC’s sked during the first half of the summer:

Monday: “For Love or Money,” which has a slew of bachelorettes competing for the heart of a handsome hunk who has no idea the gal he picks gets a million bucks, bows June 2 at 9 with a two-hour premiere.

The following week, on June 9, “Meet My Folks” returns for another season of episodes. It’ll air at 10.

Tuesday: “Dog Eat Dog,” the gonzo gamer hosted by Brooke Burns, comes back for a second season, starting May 27 with back-to-back episodes at 8 and 9 p.m. On June 10, “Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America” bows in the 9 p.m. slot.

Wednesday: Debbie Allen-hosted revival of “Fame” launches with a two-hour premiere May 28 from 8-10 p.m. Peacock is also expected to take repeats of “The West Wing” off for 7 weeks during the summer.

Thursday: NBC will stick to its regular sitcom lineup.

Friday: “Dateline” will be in originals throughout the summer, with “Law & Order: SVU” at 10. No word yet on what will fill the 8 p.m. slot.

Saturday: Movies and “Law & Order” repeats.

Thesp talent search “Next Action Star,” which had been set for a summer premiere, has been pushed back to midseason 2003-04. NBC is also weighing when to launch “Perfect Partners,” the relationship reality skein formerly known as “Love Shack.”

Sunday: “Crime & Punishment,” the real-life version of “Law & Order,” returns for a second season at 10.

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