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One Giant Leap For Network TV?

May 14, 2007 12:07 AM

Sure, the three “Law & Order” pickups are big upfront news, but not quite this big: "With this innovative programming move, we have significantly strengthened the already powerful USA network, given NBC maximum flexibility, and in the process have changed the paradigm of prime-time television,” said Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal’s president and CEO. “By changing the traditional way programs are rolled out, we have reinforced NBC Universal's forward-thinking approach to new programming strategies and our willingness to embrace bold thinking."

But really, what’s changed by premiering “Criminal Intent” on USA first, then repeating it on NBC? “Intent” has had a second window on USA for the last six seasons. From a viewer perspective, you still get the same current episodes of the same police procedural on the same two channels. The only real paradigms being shifted are show renewals being tied to budget cuts, and broadcast series getting renewed with lower ratings than ever before.

Meanwhile, at NBC, another comedy pickup: On good authority (though without network confirmation), that NBC Universal TV/FremantleMedia’s “The IT Crowd” has been picked up, about a squad of computer tech geeks working in the basement of large corporation. Scenes played at NBC’s development presentation received a fairly warm response.

Also, an unofficial ABC comedy pickup: “Miss/Guided,” (20th Century Fox and Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Films), about “an ugly duckling who returns to her alma matter as a guidance counselor.”

E-mail James Hibberd

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