For those not intrigued by David Letterman’s strike beard or Jay Leno’s attempt to write his own monologue, the Hollywood writers strike has been a non-event thus far. If you’re a fan of “Heroes,” “CSI,” or any other scripted show, you haven’t missed your favourite shows, because they’ve been on their regular schedule – new stuff through mid-December, then a diet of repeats. And by the same token, the networks haven’t felt real pain yet.
That will change at the end of the month, when the networks would typically start showing new shows again. The broadcasters will be in uncharted territory as they cobble together cable shows, repeats, reality and game shows to fill the gaps. But the strike won’t affect every network in the same way: Some are in much better positions than others — and much more likely to support a hard line against the writers.
The situation, by network:
Fox (NWS): Set to dominate. The Super Bowl — the biggest event in TV — goes forward as scheduled. And so does “American Idol”, the biggest series on TV. Yet another advantage: Fox only programs two hours a night, while ABC, NBC and CBS have to fill three hours. It will fill some of that time with highly-rated reality show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader,” as well as already-finished mid-season shows “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “New Amsterdam,” and “The Return of Jezebel James.” Major loss: Another season of “24”.
ABC (DIS): A strong reality slate will help compensate for the losses of dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives”. ABC will lean on unscripted hits like “Dancing with the Stars,” “Biggest Loser,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Wife Swap” and “Supernanny.” It will try out another reality show, “Dance War,” but will devote Friday nights to reruns and “20/20.” One huge problem: The potential loss of the Academy Awards telecast at the end of February.
CBS: Survives on crime repeats. Loses all iterations of CSI, it’s flagship crime franchise, as well as “Cold Case,” “NCIS” and “The Unit.” Les Moonves is importing serial killer drama “Dexter” from Showtime and is adding the Drew Carey game show “Power of 10” and “Big Brother 9.” All CBS’s big Monday night comedies will be in repeats.
NBC: Heading toward another fourth-place finish, and set to limp into the Summer Olympics. It’s already lost Sunday Night Football; now it loses as “Heroes,” “The Office,” and “My Name Is Earl.” Instead it will import “Monk” and “Psych” from cable, and “Quarterlife” from the web. Adds “American Gladiators,” which got a strong start in the ratings, “Baby Borrowers,” and new midseason drama, “Lipstick Jungle.” Brings in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” repeats.
The CW: Loses a hit just as it was building momentum. The baby net has one episode left of its only hit of the season, “Gossip Girl,” but has eight episodes of the next season of “Pussycat Dolls” and a full season of “Everybody Hates Chris” and “America’s Next Top Model.” Its Friday night lineup of wrestling (which uses non-guild writers) is strike-proof.
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