NBC pushes back fall schedule

In an unprecedented decision, NBC has announced they are pushing back their heavily promoted premiere week of new shows one week from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24.

“In light of the recent tragic events in our country, NBC has decided to postpone the premieres of the network’s fall primetime programs…Further developments could alter this plan,” the network said in a brief statement, Reuters reported.

The other major networks including ABC and CBS were also contemplating the postponement of their fall shows due to the heavy news coverage on all the stations and were taking things hour by hour. They are waiting to see how the aftermath of Tuesday’s attacks unfold before making any long-term decisions about programming.

“We’re on the fence right now,” CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves told Variety of his network’s view on whether to delay the season’s start. “We’re looking at all the pros and cons. I could give you 10 reasons why we should delay it and 10 reasons why we shouldn’t.”

But CBS’s quick decision to postpone the Primetime Emmy Awards was an easy one.

“Nobody wants to watch a sitcom today, and that’s the primary reason why we didn’t want the Emmys to take place this week. It just doesn’t fit with how everyone is feeling. But there comes a certain point where you do have to look at moving on. At the moment, things are minute by minute and subject to change, but we’re thinking about putting on our schedule as planned on Monday.” Moonves told The Hollywood Reporter.

CBS will be making at least one change–they 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 Ellen DeGeneres will host, can be rescheduled Sept. 23.

ABC had actually decided to delay their fall lineup a week, inside sources told Variety. But the network re-evaluated the decision and planned to debut some new shows next week, particularly if Monday Night Football were to go forward. Now it’s unclear what will happen, as the NFL has announced that all 15 games scheduled this weekend have been canceled.

League spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press there were several reasons involved, including the problems in air travel and the trauma to the New York Giants, Jets and the Washington Redskins. It has not yet been decided whether to reschedule the weekend’s games or go with a 15-game season.

Of the smaller networks, the WB will be keeping to their Friday night premieres after affiliates urged it to resume entertainment programming.

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

Fox Network is in a different situation since many of their new fall shows were to be debuting in a few weeks, after the World Series. However, now that Major League Baseball has postponed all the games until Thursday, Fox could be looking at bowing their post-baseball season premieres during November sweeps.

Too much reality?

As well as deciding on the fall schedules, the networks are also combing through their new shows to look for anything considered inappropriate in light of the terrorist attacks.

In particular, the pilot of the new CBS show The Agency, which focuses on the CIA, makes reference to terrorist Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind a plot to blow up Harrods department store in London.

CBS execs will not air the pilot next week–or most likely ever–but will show another episode, making a few adjustments for continuity purposes. Promotions for the series have been pulled.

Agency executive producer Shaun Cassidy told Variety, “The world’s a very different place today than it was. We will have to make some adjustments.”

Also Fox has temporarily pulled its promo spots for its upcoming series 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland as a CIA agent who has 24 hours to stop a group of terrorists from assassinating a presidential candidate.

The pilot to 24, which is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV, includes an explosion of a jumbo jet. But Fox believes the show focuses more on the relationship between the main character and his family than it does on any terrorism and that the assassination attempt is far different from what happened in the real world this week.

“The storyline is not at all related to the events going on right now,” a Fox source told Variety “We don’t see it as a problematic situation. But we’ll keep our fingers on the pulse of the country to see where we are a month from now.” The drama isn’t scheduled to bow until late October.

“We’ve all been bombarded with these images over the past 24 hours of real life, and it’s hard not to want in some way to contribute to the well-being of our country,” 20th Century Fox TV president Dana Walden told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Our responsibility is to try and be sensitive to what’s going on in the world without censoring our writers to the point where they feel like they’re no longer able to write the shows they’ve created. Each of our creators feels a responsibility to be sensitive and to do whatever possible not to be disrespectful.”