Winners, Losers and Pinch Hitters
Summer Sweeps around the Dial
By Devin D. O'Leary
May is the last Sweeps month before the networks close down shop for summer. It's the time when all the season finales jostle each other for attention and (of course) ratings. It's also the time when underperforming shows face the final chopping block. Even as the first Sweeps ratings begin to creep in, some fates are already sealed.
FOX, for example, has swept its midseason sitcom “Life on a Stick” under the rug for Sweeps. The show had a respectable rating, but was losing about 60 percent of its “American Idol” audience. FOX execs didn't like that, and are plugging Pamela Anderson's innuendo-com, “Stacked,” in its place for the month of May. So far, that show is holding on to slightly more than half of the “American Idol” audience on Wednesdays--which is about as good as FOX can ask for.
NBC, meanwhile, looks like it's finally dropping the hammer on the musically inspired drama “American Dreams.” The '60s-set series had garnered some critical and ratings success in its first couple seasons. This year, however, has been up and down dramatically speaking and just plain down numerically speaking. The network isn't commenting on the fate of the show, but this season was shortened to only 17 episodes, forcing an early season finale. Cast members Wil Estes and Rachel Boston have already taken roles in other pilots, so the cancellation looks like a done deal.
ABC recently gave out new season orders for “According to Jim” and “America's Funniest Home Videos.” The network had previously picked up options on “Alias,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Boston Legal” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The network is doing quite well, ratings-wise. But it makes you wonder: If they're picking up a 15th season of “America's Home Videos,” what the hell are they willing to cancel? So far, nothing. (Personally, I could live without “Supernanny,” but I'm sure it will be back.)
The biggest TV news comes from NBC, which is rolling out a full (sort of) slate of summer series. These will include mostly cheap, unscripted series designed to keep a few viewers away from cable; but the tactic has paid off well for the Peacock Network over the last couple summers. The summer slate begins June 21 with “I Want to Be a Hilton,” in which Paris Hilton's momma teaches people how to be snobby, rich, New York whores. What fun! “Average Joe” and “The Biggest Loser” return soon after, trailed by “The Law Firm” (essentially a prime-time version of “The People's Court”), “Meet Mr. Mom” (in which dads try to do domestic work) and the rather self-explanatory “Tommy Lee Goes to College.”
Hey, if Pamela Anderson can have a hit sitcom on FOX, why can't ex-hubby Tommy Lee have a reality show on NBC? ... No need to answer that. Really.
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