Television news briefs


Effective immediately, CBS has removed the star-studded, critically admired, presumably expensive drama "Smith" from its Tuesday night schedule, making it the season's first true casualty.

In other damning news, NBC has sent its similarly star-studded, critically admired, presumably expensive serial "Kidnapped" off to the programming wasteland of Saturday night, the final step before that show exits the air.

Over the next three weeks, CBS will replace "Smith" repeats of "CSI" and "Criminal Minds," before figuring out a new strategy at the end of October. Although its star-studded cast included Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen and Amy Smart, "Smith" never found traction against competition that included "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Boston Legal." In its most recent airing, the third for the John Well-produced cops-n-robbers drama, "Smith" drew only 8.4 million viewers.

It's possible that CBS may opt to burn off unseen episodes of "Smith" on a future date, but the network has given no indication of when that might be.

"Smith" could, incidentally, lose its first-to-be-pulled status if Fox opts not to bring "Happy Hour" back. The low-rated comedy went on baseball-hiatus one week early, but in a November schedule announced by the network on Thursday, "Happy Hour" still appears to have a home.

Meanwhile, in a shift that can only be described as playing out the string, NBC will ship new episodes of "Kidnapped" off to 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday, moving "Dateline" into the Wednesday 10 p.m. slot where "Kidnapped" has tanked this season.

Earlier this week it was revealed that NBC will kill "Kidnapped" off after only 13 episodes, giving the show a chance to complete its central mystery. Through its first two airings, "Kidnapped" averaged roughly 7 million viewers, an audience that dropped lower this week.

Before the season began, more than a few critics wondered if too many of the new network shows were highly serialized dramas that might require too much of a commitment for viewers, viewers already burnt by the truncated ends to shows like "Reunion" and "Invasion."

The answer appears to be a qualified yes. With "Smith" in limbo, "Kidnapped" shipped to Friday, "Vanished" moved to Friday and shows like "Studio 60," "Runaway," "Friday Night Lights" and "Six Degrees" struggling, there will be some high profile casualties. On the other hand, the future looks brighter for shows like "Heroes" and "Jericho," with the jury still out on "The Nine" and others.



Earlier this year, "The Unit" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" were uncertain midseason replacements, but now both shows have been ordered up for a full second season.

Industry trade papers have reported that both the Monday comedy and the Tuesday military drama have already been saluted with a back-nine order, bringing their season episode totals to the full compliment of 22.

Boosted by its "Two and a Half Men" lead-in and by star Julia Louis-Dreyfus' recent Emmy win, "Christine" pulled in 13.6 million viewers on Monday, better than last season's average of 12.5 million.

"The Unit," which stars Scott Foley and Dennis Haysbert, has stayed strong in a tough Tuesday hour, hooking 13.2 million viewers earlier this week.



William Shatner, who's been a Starfleet captain, tough-guy cop, lecherous lawyer and even a bit of a singer in his long career, will soon be able to add "game show host" to his resume.

Shatner, who currently stars on "Boston Legal," will serve as host for "Show Me the Money," a game show set to air sometime later this season on ABC. It comes from Endemol USA, the go-to game-show producers behind "Deal or No Deal" and another ABC effort, "Set for Life."

"Bill was the guy we wanted from day one to host `Show Me the Money,'" says David Goldberg, president of Endemol USA. "More than anything, we were looking for a great showman, and in addition to being an instantly recognizable entertainer to audiences of all ages, Bill's got a naturally warm and witty presence that is simply perfect for the material."

The network isn't saying much about how "Show Me the Money" works. Contestants will have to answer trivia questions to accumulate winnings. The twist is that players also "must contend with a never-before-seen mechanism that can cut contestants' winnings to nothing or instantly catapult them into the millions."

Shatner won consecutive Emmys in 2004 and `05 for playing the pompous, oversexed attorney Denny Crane - first as a guest star on "The Practice" and then as a regular on "Boston Legal." He's still best known, though, as Capt. James T. Kirk of "Star Trek."

He's appeared on several game shows in the past, including "What's My Line?" and "The Match Game," but "Show Me the Money" will be his first time hosting one.



CBS has enlisted Alan Thicke to host the network's "American Idol meets The Office" reality show "The Singing Office."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The Singing Office" is based on a popular Dutch format. In each episode, producers choose two companies and force the employees to do vocal auditions. The five best singers from each office are sent to Hollywood for a quick round of styling and training. Then they sing in front of an audience. Then the audience votes. The most gifted office wins a cash prize.


In 2003, Thicke required 30 stitches and dislodged five teeth after getting whacked in the face by a hockey puck. That has nothing to do with "The Singing Office," but we like mentioning it.

Thicke is a musical sort. While he's probably best know as the paterfamilias on "Growing Pains," he also wrote the theme songs for "The Facts of Life," "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Wheel of Fortune." Thicke did a stint on "The Bold and the Beautiful" earlier this year and co-hosted NBC's "Celebrity Cooking Showdown."



NBC has a mixed track record so far this season, but one show, "Heroes," has been as close to a breakout hit as any new series on the air.

Not surprisingly, then, the network has decided to stick with the show for a full season. "Heroes" becomes the first new series on any network to get its back nine episodes picked up.

"'Heroes' has delivered exceptional ratings since its premiere, and we're even more impressed with the quality of the upcoming episodes," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly says. "We have complete confidence in creator-executive producer Tim Kring. The best is yet to come over the course of a full season with this newest drama sensation."

"Heroes" follows a group of people who have extraordinary abilities, from flight to hearing other people's thoughts. The show, which premiered Sept. 25, has hinted that they'll play a role in saving the world, though it's not clear how just yet.

Through its first two airings, the series has averaged 13.5 million viewers and a very solid 5.7 rating among adults 18-49. The 18-49 number is the best in its 9 p.m. Monday timeslot and tied with ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" for the best performance of any new show this season. "Heroes" has also been more of a self-starter, building substantially on its lead-in ("Deal or No Deal") each week, whereas "Brothers & Sisters" has the advantage of airing after "Desperate Housewives."

The cast includes Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Sendhil Ramamurthy, Ali Larter ("Final Destination"), Masi Oka ("Scrubs"), Hayden Panettiere ("Ice Princess"), Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls") and Adrian Pasdar ("Judging Amy").



Dust off your cape and pull out your Roget's. "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" will be back to find that undiscovered crimefighter with a memorable image, unusual powers and a hyperbolic turn of phrase.

The Sci Fi Channel has renewed the hit reality series starring the legendary Stan "The Man" Lee for a second season. The show, produced by Bruce Nash's Nash Entertainment and Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment, will be expanded to 10 hour-long episodes.

"After all these years as a writer, I never thought I'd be on the other side of the camera starring in a far-out TV series", says Lee in a statement. "But, now that I've had a taste of it, there's no stoppin' me! And here's a confession: While we were having a ton of fun with our first season's episodes, we kept saying things like, `What a shame we don't have time to add this zany idea or that outrageous gimmick.' Well, now we've got the time! The great guys at the Sci Fi Channel have unleashed us to cook up ten new, wilder-than-ever episodes. So, Heroes, hang on to your Spandex , `cause the best is yet to come!"

On the show, Lee selected a lucky few from thousands of hopefuls who created their own superhero alter egos - from designing their own costumes to dreaming up a specific attitude and point of view. The chosen ones then live together in a secret lair and compete in challenges to test their mettle and demonstrate that they have the necessary virtues to be a superhero. The first season saw the wannabe heroes facing off against a supervillain, braving towering heights and attack dogs and coming to terms with the dark secrets in their past.

"The next season of Superhero promises to be even more exciting than the first. Expect bigger and more thrilling challenges, and more unexpected twists and turns this season," promises Executive Producer Nash.

In the end, Matthew Atherton, aka Feedback, was declared the winner and thus will be immortalized in his very own Dark Horse comic book created by Lee.

"'Who Wants To Be A Superhero?' was a success for us on many levels last summer," says Sci Fi's Executive Vice President Mark Stern. "The show garnered great reviews, attracted a record-breaking number of younger viewers to the Channel, and held its own against some very stiff competition on Thursday nights."

The show averaged a 1.1 household rating and increased the number of 18-49 viewers by 74 percent. Those under 18 tuned in as well, with 30 percent making up the total viewers. Overall, the show brought 2.9 million new viewers to the channel.

The second season is scheduled to air next summer.



Having pushed "The Knights of Prosperity" to later in the season, ABC is giving one of its other new comedies that show's intended timeslot. Eventually.

The network says "Big Day," a show about the various calamities on the day of a young couple's wedding, on Nov. 28. It will air at 9 p.m. ET, pairing with "Help Me Help You" to form, as things stand now, the only block of comedies on ABC's schedule. (The network hasn't announced its plans for 8 p.m. Tuesdays once "Dancing with the Stars" ends; it's possible returning sitcoms "George Lopez" and "According to Jim" could fill that hour.)

ABC had originally planned to air "The Knights of Prosperity" at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Oct. 17. Earlier this week, however, the network decided to hold off on the show, possibly until midseason, so it can give "Knights" a better marketing push. After its premiere, "Big Day" will likely have the advantage of airing new episodes against what are likely to be post-sweeps repeats on other networks.

The show stars Marla Sokoloff ("The Practice") and Josh Cooke ("Four Kings") as a couple about to be married. Told more or less in real time, a la "24," it will follow the minor and major crises of the wedding day: including the father of the bride's (Kurt Fuller, "Desperate Housewives") doubts about his future son-in-law, an ex-boyfriend still carrying a torch for the bride and a battle between mother (Wendie Malick, "Just Shoot Me") and daughter over what kind of salad to serve.

Miriam Shor ("Inside Schwartz"), Stephen Rannazzisi and Stephnie Weir ("MADtv") also star. Former "King of Queens" executive producers (and married couple) Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa created the show.



Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos will once again pair up for television.

The husband and wife acting couple will develop a comedy for the CW network that will riff off their real-life experiences in the world of soap operas.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the couple has received a script commitment for the comedy, which is as yet untitled

The couple met while working on ABC's "All My Children," on which Ripa played Hayley Vaughn Santos from 1990-2002, and Consuelos portrayed Mateo Santos Sr. (1995-2002). Consuelos also had a recurring role on his wife's comedy "Hope & Faith," and they both co-starred in "1-800-Missing."

Ripa and Consuelos, both 36, married in 1996 and have three children: Michael, 9; Lola, 5; and Joaquin, 3.

The CW already has another sitcom based on a real-life acting couple. "All of Us" was co-created and executive produced by Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith about their life. It's now part of the CW's comedy lineup, which moves to Mondays, starting Oct. 9.



All of Fox's new shows will return when the network finishes its baseball hiatus, but there will be several key scheduling changes.

Underperforming "Justice" and "Vanished" will find new nights, with fellow freshman program "Standoff" moving to a different hour. In addition, Fox has found a place for the reality show "The Rich List."

The first major move will take place on Mondays, starting on Oct. 23, when the legal drama "Justice" will move into the 9 p.m. ET slot after the solidly performing "Prison Break." That offers the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced procedural a stronger lead-in audience than it was getting on Wednesdays, following "Bones."

The slightly altered Tuesday will start on Oct. 31 with "Standoff" in the 8 p.m. hour and "House" dropping down to 9 p.m. When Fox announced it schedule in May at the upfronts, "Standoff" was slated to move to Mondays in January. It's unclear if the negotiator series has done enough to justify that next shift.

"Bones" will stay at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, with "The Rich List" starting on Nov. 1. "The Rich List" is hosted by well-known British morning TV personality Eamonn Holmes and features a potentially limitless prize package.

"The O.C." premieres Nov. 2 following the return of "'Til Death" and "Happy Hour." There had been some speculation that the critically slammed "Happy Hour" might not be returning. Instead, it'll be giving "The O.C." an entirely incompatible lead-in.

Friday will be home to "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy," which has a two-hour premiere on Oct. 20 and moves into its real home at 9 p.m. the following week. Taking the 8 p.m. Friday block, a place where Fox has traditionally sent well-intentioned shows to die, is "Vanished."

Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged and will return to action on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5.


© 2006, Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.





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