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NBC cuts fall season in two

Shows to be rotated in and out of time periods

It’s a tale of two TV seasons next year at NBC.

With the Winter Olympics smack dab in the middle of the season, splitting it into two halves, the Peacock will take advantage of the Games by airing a more femme-friendly sked in the spring.

The fall/spring split will also allow NBC to make good on its promise to rotate shows in and out of time periods throughout the year.

As a result, the net is eschewing the traditional 22-episode order for many of its shows, picking up fewer episodes of each — yet, because the shows are sharing slots, NBC plans to run fewer repeats through the year.

Monday night skein “Heroes,” for example, was given a smaller, 19-episode order and will share the 8 p.m. slot with cult fave “Chuck,” which was given just a 13-episode pickup.

“You’ll wind up with more originals than ever,” said NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman. “What we don’t need to do is turn around and do one TV show the same slot throughout the year. We’re playing for 52 weeks of originals.”

Other shows sharing timeslots include new skeins “Parenthood” and “Mercy,” which will split the seasons (“Parenthood” in fall, “Mercy” in spring) on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. And new actioners “Trauma” and “Day One” will split the Monday 9 p.m. spot.

According to the Peacock, the split seasons are necessary because of the Winter Olympics. But it’s also a function of the net having limited shelf space due to the Jay Leno strip at 10 p.m.

“NBC has picked up more scripted shows than last season even with ‘The Jay Leno Show’ at 10 p.m.,” Silverman said.

Meanwhile, Silverman cited the net’s early “infront” meetings with advertisers for steering the net toward renewing bubble skeins “Law and Order” and “Chuck” (which, the net admitted, was also the beneficiary of a rabid Twitter campaign).

“The hands were raised across the country for those shows to return,” Silverman said.

As part of the “Chuck” renewal, the Peacock also sealed a major marketing deal with Subway (which was at the heart of a massive “Save Chuck” campaign). Under the pact, Subway will be integrated in the show — one character will work for the sandwich chain — and other advertising tie-ins will be launched.

The news wasn’t as sweet for “My Name Is Earl” and “Medium.”

“We didn’t see any letters or chatter for those shows,” Silverman said. “And we didn’t see any creative momentum.”

But “Earl” and “Medium” aren’t completely dead. “Earl” producer 20th Century Fox TV is set to talk to Fox and ABC about potentially moving the laffer to those nets. And “Medium,” which comes from CBS TV Studios, looks likely to move to CBS, where it would make a logical companion to “Ghost Whisperer.”

Eye execs felt so blindsided by the Peacock’s move to ax “Medium” that they took the unusual step of sending out a tersely worded statement.

“NBC’s cancellation of ‘Medium’ is inexplicable to us,” the CBS statement read. “The ratings don’t lie: ‘Medium’ outperforms many of NBC’s renewed shows. We believe the show has a significant future and await developments.”

That, of course, is believed to be a thinly veiled hint at the CBS net’s acquisition of the show.

Meanwhile, despite speculation that NBC might split “The Biggest Loser” into two nights, the reality show will remain a two-hour Tuesday night block in the fall. In the spring, “Loser” will collapse to 90 minutes so the net can launch the new laffer “100 Questions” behind it. (That follows a similar model employed by ABC on Monday nights with “Dancing With the Stars” in recent years.)

Keeping “Loser” intact is a safer ratings bet — as Silverman noted, that second hour of “Loser” gives NBC some of its best ratings, and NBC would potentially be giving some ratings points up by moving the show.

But it now means that NBC, ABC and Fox will all be battling each other with reality shows on Tuesday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. — a competish that likely puts a smile on the faces of CBS execs.

Silverman said he wasn’t concerned about the reality faceoff in the slot.

“‘The Biggest Loser’ stood up to the biggest smackdown of them all, ‘American Idol,’ ” he said. “It’s a great, dynamic self-reliant soap opera.”

On Thursdays, Peacock will use its “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday” limited-run half-hour to launch its two-hour comedy block; new laffer “Community,” which has already earned strong buzz, will bow in the 9:30 p.m. slot behind “The Office.”

But once “SNL” finishes its Thursday tour of duty, “Community” will be immediately tested — by taking over that lead 8 p.m. slot. That’s because “30 Rock” will nestle back into its traditional 9:30 home.

In one surprise, the “Law and Order” mother ship — thought to be benched until midseason — will show up in the fall, at 8 p.m. on Fridays. That will set up a night of justice for the net, as “L&O” will be paired with the return of “Southland.”

NBC only picked up 16 episodes of “Law and Order” — but if it opts to keep the show in that slot all year, more episodes will likely be ordered.

“Law and Order: SVU,” meanwhile, will stay on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. throughout the year.

On Sundays, after football completes its run, the net will turn the night into a reality showcase. New nonscripted skein “Marriage Ref” will air at 8 p.m., leading into the return of the two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” in midseason.

Saturday will continue to be the home for repeats, with “SVU” at 10 p.m. and a mix of “Trauma” (fall) and “Southland” (spring) at 9 p.m. “Dateline NBC” will air on the night at 8.

NBC airs the Winter Olympics Feb. 12-28; NBC’s midseason sked will launch after that. As a result, the Peacock purposely held female-targeted series such as “100 Questions” and “Mercy” until then.

And then there’s the five-night-a-week Leno strategy. Now that he’s seen ABC’s schedule, Silverman said he’s more “confident than ever with Leno.”

NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Marc Graboff reiterated the network’s belief that over the course of an entire 52-week year, the bet on Leno will pay off.

“We look at Jay holistically from a year-round standpoint,” he said. “We think the show will perform great on a year-round basis.”

Here are NBC’s two schedules:

FALL:

Monday: 8 p.m., “Heroes”; 9 p.m., “Trauma” (new drama), 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Tuesday: 8 p.m., “The Biggest Loser”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Wednesday: 8 p.m., “Parenthood” (new drama); 9 p.m., “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Thursday: 8 p.m., “SNL Weekend Update Thursday”; 8:30, “Parks and Recreation”; 9 p.m., “The Office”; 9:30, “Community”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Thursday (after “SNL” ends): 8 p.m., “Community” (new series); 8:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation”; 9 p.m., “The Office”; 9:30, “30 Rock”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Friday: 8 p.m., “Law & Order”; 9 p.m., “Southland”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Saturday: 8 p.m., “Dateline NBC”; 9 p.m., “Trauma” repeats; 10 p.m., “Law & Order: SVU” repeats

Sunday: 7 p.m.: “Football Night in America”; 8:20, “Sunday Night Football”

MIDSEASON:

Monday: 8 p.m., “Chuck”; 9 p.m., “Day One” (new drama), 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Tuesday: 8 p.m., “The Biggest Loser”; 9:30, “100 Questions” (new comedy); 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Wednesday: 8 p.m., “Mercy” (new drama); 9 p.m., “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Thursday: 8 p.m., “Community” (new series); 8:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation”; 9 p.m., “The Office”; 9:30, “30 Rock”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Friday: 8 p.m., “Law & Order”; 9 p.m., “Southland”; 10 p.m., “Jay Leno”

Saturday: 8 p.m., “Dateline NBC”; 9 p.m., “Southland” repeats; 10 p.m., “Law & Order: SVU” repeats

Sunday: 7 p.m., “Dateline NBC”; 8 p.m., “The Marriage Ref” (new reality); 9 p.m., “Celebrity Apprentice”

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