CBS, ABC follow NBC’s lead

Following NBC’s decision Wednesday to postpone its fall premieres by one week, CBS and ABC have decided to join NBC in delaying their own fall lineups.

TV’s bigwigs have deemed that keeping the country informed on the events surrounding the aftermath of Tuesday’s horrific terrorist attack is more important than premiering new sitcoms and dramas on the air.

CBS and ABC decided Thursday to follow NBC’s lead and will also postpone the start of their fall lineup by one week. NBC made the decision Wednesday to push back the date from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24.

“Right now it’s not about entertainment programming, it’s about news programming,” ABC Entertainment Executive VP Jeff Bader told Variety. “Looking ahead, this is a huge, huge story. News will need at least an hour a night for the foreseeable future. To try to premiere around that makes no sense.”

The two networks were still vacillating early Thursday on whether to postpone their fall shows or not. CBS President Leslie Moonves commented on how CBS execs were weighing the pros and cons, considering premiering some shows and not others. Now only two new CBS shows will air Sept. 19–the second episode of the reality show The Amazing Race and the premiere of the new supernatural drama Wolf Lake, both of which were to air Wednesday. Wolf Lake had always been set to bow a week early to CBS’ fall schedule. CBS also will not be showing a sneak preview of The Ellen Show as planned next week. The hope is to launch the show Sept. 24, especially if the Emmys, which DeGeneres will host, can be rescheduled Sept. 23.

CBS’ decision to cancel the Emmy Awards ceremony this Sunday was made quickly and easily, but a new date has yet to be established. Both CBS and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are looking at either Sept. 23 or Oct. 7. The ATAS was leaning towards Oct. 7 due to security concerns and the timeliness of a celebration so soon after the tragedy, but CBS was pushing for Sept. 23 to keep the Emmys show out of their regular TV schedule. The new date should be announced sometime Friday.

Inside sources told Variety that ABC wanted to wait and see what would happen with Monday Night Football, which starts off their week of programming. The NFL subsequently decided Thursday morning to cancel all the weekend games, so, at that point, ABC’s decision may have become easier to make.

The WB Network has also changed their plans and will not launch tonight’s new block of family comedies, including the new comedy Maybe It’s Me, Reba and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This is to support President Bush’s call Thursday for the country to observe a national day of “prayer and remembrance” today. At this time, the WB is still unclear on when it will premiere its Friday lineup.

Ironically, yesterday, WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin told Variety, “We feel very strongly that to disrupt our schedule completely further reinforces the sense of disruption in people’s lives. We don’t want to contribute to the terrorists’ desire to create chaos.”

Fox is still planning to launch its premieres of That ’70s Show and the new show Undeclared on Sept. 18 as well as its new reality show Love Cruise, which was supposed to have premiered Tuesday.

Fox will also air its second-season opener of the popular drama Dark Angel on Sept. 21 but had to postpone the premiere of the new soap drama Pasadena until Sept. 28 due to the restrictions in air travel. Fox was not able to view dailies from the Vancouver, British Columbia-based production, nor have cast members been able to travel to the set from Southern California.

Some of the new fall shows have also had to be altered due to terrorism-themed subject matter. Fox pulled promos of its highly touted drama 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland as a CIA agent who has 24 hours to stop of group of terrorist from assassinating a presidential candidate. As well, CBS will most likely not show the pilot to its new series The Agency, starring Grant Show, because it makes a reference to Osama bin Laden and his attempts to blow up London’s Harrods department store.

HBO is also joining the ranks in rescheduling and has opted to delay the Sunday premiere of its new comedy The Mind of a Married Man (which had a preview airing Tuesday night) and Larry David‘s second-season Curb Your Enthusiasm. The cable network will show the second installment of the World War II miniseries Band of Brothers as scheduled.

Of course, all these changes in programming will be for naught if the news continues beyond Sept. 24.

” ‘Liquid’ is our new favorite term,” a CBS exec told Variety.