[18 July 2007]
Detroit Free Press (MCT)
LOS ANGELES - If you’re looking for “Fantasy Island,” NBC is building its own on Monday nights this fall.
No, no, no. There won’t be a reincarnation of Ricardo Montalban with an assistant shouting, “Look, Boss, the plane!”
This new Fantasy Island is all part of rookie NBC Entertainment boss Ben Silverman’s plan to build on the success of “Heroes” with a full fantasy lineup on Monday nights.
As part of a revamped Peacock Network fall season schedule unveiled this week, newbie fantasy series “Chuck” (at 8 p.m.) and “Journeyman” (at 10 p.m.) will flank supernatural breakout hit “Heroes” (at 9 p.m.) on Mondays when that trio of shows puts its paranormal stamp on prime time beginning Sept. 24.
“I think the character elements of those shows and the emotional connections within those shows are even more profound than the kind of fantastical elements,” noted Silverman, talking with TV critics in Los Angeles this week. “And I think `Heroes’ demonstrated there was a massive appetite for that kind of show.”
“Chuck,” created by Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.”), is the slyly charming, action comedy odyssey of Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi, “Less Than Perfect”), a computer geek suddenly transformed into a top secret agent after he unwittingly downloads a humongous serving of sensitive government data into his brain.
Meanwhile, “Journeyman” does the time warp with a mystery romance as a discombobulated San Francisco newspaper reporter (Kevin McKidd, “Rome”) finds himself suddenly traveling in time.
To give its Fantasy Island lineup the maximum promotional push, NBC will be heavily hyping the “Chuck”-“Heroes”-“Journeyman” team on its “Sunday Night Football” telecasts leading into Monday.
“The football fans would be a great platform to then drive them into that next night,” says Silverman. “So we’re very confident. We’re very hopeful that Sunday into Monday will be very powerful.”
Superpowerful? Only time will tell if Fantasy Island can help pull NBC out of fourth place in the ratings, where it’s lingered for two seasons.
In another key change from the NBC fall schedule first announced in May, the hit game show “Deal or No Deal” shifts from 8 p.m. Mondays to the lead-off spot on Fridays, where Silverman is betting the critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” can be nurtured from ratings loser to quality TV survivor status and score an expanding audience.
Now that the high school football-family drama will be at 9 p.m. Fridays, successful “Las Vegas” moves back an hour to serve as a popular book end to the evening and a further lure for “Lights.”
The final major tweak in the fall lineup involves summer karaoke sensation “The Singing Bee,” an ultra-peppy lyrics memory musical challenge in which contestants have to keep singing the correct lyrics when the music stops.
Hosted by “Dancing with the Stars” and `N Sync funboy Joey Fatone, “The Singing Bee” blasted off last week with 13 million viewers and ranked as the No. 1 show among young adults over the past five summers.
“We have a real belief in this show,” said Silverman, who made a quick decision after “The Singing Bee’s” gangbusters premiere to add it to NBC’s fall prime- time slate. It will air at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays following an expanded, 90-minute version of “The Biggest Loser” and leading into long-running crime procedural hit “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Yo! Stop the presses!
Attention, Ben Silverman. Here’s an absolutely free of charge crossover Tuesday night promotional thought for your fevered November sweeps idea file.
First, send Joey Fatone to Slim Down Camp on “The Biggest Loser,” followed by his upbeat karaoke ringmaster duties on “The Singing Bee,” with the whole evening capped off by Joey’s killer-of-the-week guest star appearance on “L&O: SVU.” Just do it!